Posts Tagged 'recycling'

Party With a Purpose This Holiday Season!

national aquarium family expert update

Today is America Recycles Day, a national holiday aimed at encouraging friends, families and communities to increase their recycling efforts!

As the holiday season gets underway, take this quick quiz to learn how your family can make your upcoming celebrations more recycle-friendly:

National Aquarium America Recycles Day

How are YOU celebrating America Recycles Day? Tell me in the comments section! 

Blog-Header-HeatherDoggett

Thoughtful Thursday: Celebrating America Recycles Day

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November 15th is America Recycles Day!

America Recycles Day

This national celebration gives us the chance to reflect on the wise use of our planet’s resources and reminds us that we need to take greater responsibility for our daily actions and choices.

At the National Aquarium, we’re continually challenging ourselves to improve our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. It’s especially important to us because the positive results are directly linked to the health of the animals and ecosystems we care about!

Over the last few years, we’ve implemented a composting program for our staff and visitors, improved our single-stream recycling efforts and identified common items that could be recycled through alternative methods (kitchen grease, batteries, corks, shoes, e-waste, etc.). As a result, we sent more than 100 tons of materials to the recycling center and composted more than 22 tons of organic material in 2012 alone!

By simply looking at what we were putting in our trash, we were able to find better ways reduce the amount we sent to the curb each week. Sometimes that meant changing our consumer habits (i.e. buying products with recyclable or less packaging) and sometimes it meant looking at our waste in a new way – as a resource, rather than a nuisance.  For example, empty paper towel tubes can be used as enrichment for our animals, old wet-suits can be made into drink cozies and street banners can be re-purposed into tote bags!

national aquarium banner bags

Limiting the amount of stuff we purchase is important, but it is only part of the answer. As hosts to several clean-up events every year, we see first-hand how destructive it can be when we dispose of our waste improperly. In fact, over the years, we’ve removed more than 660,000 pieces of debris for the small wetland adjacent to Fort McHenry. Close to half of that was made up of plastic bottles. Today, plastic bottles can be recycled into a wide variety of amazing products – including park benches, fleece clothing, construction materials, floating islands, etc. It is our responsibility to extend the life of the products we use through recycling.

The good news is, there are lots of resources out there to make it easier for you. Earth 911 has a great search tool for recycling options in your area. They even have an app for smartphones!

Together, we can work to create healthy communities. Join me (and 47,000 of my friends) and take the pledge to increase your recycling efforts!

Laura Bankey

Thoughtful Thursdays: Let’s Make Everyday ‘Earth Day’

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Every year since 1970, people around the world have come together on April 22 to celebrate the Earth. Considered the largest civic observance in the world, Earth Day is celebrated by restoring habitats and teaching others about conserving our planet’s natural resources and wildlife.

In recent years, the celebration of our planet has been extended by many to “Earth Week” and even “Earth Month.” I applaud those efforts to extend this day of recognition, however, they beg the question, when will we finally reach the time when every day is “Earth Day?”

With serious threats like climate change, ocean acidification and pollution having an increasingly negative impact on our ecosystems, one day a year to talk about the Earth simply isn’t enough. To make a real difference in the environment, we need to all adopt new behaviors in our daily lives – whether it’s in what we’re buying or what we’re throwing away – that can make an actual impact over time.

Since our inception, the National Aquarium has made a concerted effort to celebrate and preserve the Earth and its diverse ecosystems every day of the year. Whether it’s through engaging with the millions of people who visit our venues annually or through plantings and cleanups out in the field, our staff and volunteers are striving to change collective attitudes and behaviors that have harmed our planet for centuries. We celebrate Earth Day because it’s an opportunity to speak to folks about changing behaviors for the benefit of the planet and its people, but our goal is to minimize our impact on our natural world – and that happens 365 days a year.

This year, I’m asking you to join me in restoring and protecting our natural environment. There are a variety of actions you can take to minimize our individual and collective negative impacts. It’s can be as easy as:

Sticking to these principles (in this order);

  • Refuse –say NO THANKS to straws and lids when possible (we pick up thousands of these in our clean up events)
  • Reduce –carpool, take public transportation or bike or walk to work one day a week – a major source of pollution is emissions from our gas-powered vehicles
  • Reuse –get a reusable water bottle or shopping bag and USE it
  • Recycle –almost every local jurisdiction has a recycling program.  Make sure you are up-to-date on what your county/city can recycle.  The list has expanded tremendously over the past couple of years and close to 50-75% of our waste stream can be diverted from our landfills if we take advantage of the systems that are already in place

Buying local

Making the environment part of your purchasing considerations.  This includes small every day purchases and larger decisions such as appliances, lawn mowers and vehicles.

Conserving water

Joining us for any/all of our conservation events throughout the year

Join your local environmental organization for volunteer opportunities in your area

Even better, starting a conservation initiative of your own and engage your surrounding community!

I’ll be celebrating Earth Day along with everyone else this year, and I hope you do, too. From that day forward, let’s fight together to make our planet a cleaner, healthier place for all of us to share. 

Blog-Header-LauraBankey

We’re Starting the New Year Off Right! Our Resolutions for 2013

Happy 2013! Are you making resolutions this year? We want to help!

The following is a list of the 10 most common New Year’s resolutions. We’ve taken these goals and added tips so they not only benefit you, but the world we live in, too!

  • Eat Healthier
    Eat food that has been certified organic, or better yet, grow your own! Many of the foods in the grocery store have been over-processed or treated with chemicals. To make sure you (and our planet) remain healthy, choose foods that are simple. Rule of thumb: The best foods have only one ingredient!
  • Lose Weight (as in Waste, Not Waist)
    How many pounds of garbage do you send to the landfill each week? Could you cut that in half by the end of the year? Simple steps to meet this goal include: recycling (check out earth911.com for tips on recycling almost anything); composting; buying less stuff; and purchasing items with minimal packaging.
  • Quit Smoking (Drive Less)
    According to the EPA, the exhaust from an average passenger car adds up to 10,000 pounds of chemicals each year to our atmosphere! Start with a pledge to go car-less once a week. Use public transportation, ride your bike, carpool, or telecommute. If you need to use a car, purchase one with high fuel efficiency, make sure it is well-maintained, and properly inflate your tires.
  • Learn Something New
    Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that the fur of a sloth grows in the opposite direction than most mammals? Every time you visit National Aquarium or even pay a virtual visit to aqua.org, you will see and learn so many new things!

    giant pacific octopus

    My heart(s) beat for you!

  • Get Out of Debt (Save Money)
    Many of the steps you take to help the environment can also save you money! One big step toward this goal is to stop purchasing disposable items. In the end, a one-time purchase of a reusable option will save you some cash!
  • Spend More Time with Friends and Family
    Did you know National Aquarium offers not only a family membership, but also a couple and grandparent membership? Plus, you can add on a guest option to any of these membership packages for just $50. You can bring a different friend every time you visit!
  • Enjoy Life More (Stress Less)
    Sometimes we worry so much about saving the aquatic world that we forget to enjoy it. Take time this year to reconnect with nature, and take advantage of the beauty and bounty your nearby national park or wildlife refuge has to offer. Walk by the water, listen to the birds sing, savor some locally caught sustainable seafood, and remember why we work to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.
  • Volunteer
    You always feel better about yourself when you are helping others! Pledge to volunteer at least four times this year and really make a difference. National Aquarium offers plenty of volunteer opportunities, both at the Aquarium and at conservation events throughout the year!
dolphin count

We need volunteers at all types of events – even standing on the beach for our annual Dolphin Count! (You can do that, right?)

  • Quit Drinking
    Bottled water, that is! This one is a no-brainer. Bottled water is a waste of your money and our earth’s resources. Reusable water bottles can be purchased just about anywhere – even at our store! Join us as a volunteer and we may even give you one at our conservation events!
  • Get Organized
    Organize your own neighborhood trash cleanup, storm drain stenciling event, or community garden! These events not only help build a strong community, they also help build a stronger planet. If you want to start small, simply support your local watershed organization in its efforts to create cleaner and healthier communities.

By adopting just ONE of these resolutions (but feel free to adopt them all!), you’ll be kick-starting an amazing 2013!

What other goals and resolutions have you set for yourself? 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Happy America Recycles Day!

We are committed to conservation and we strive to live our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, in everything we do.  Today, on America Recycles Day, we are happy to share with you some of the many ways our dedicated team’s hard work is paying off!

GREEN is in the numbers: 

  • 20.24 tons of organic materials were collected for composting
  • 45.72 tons of single-stream recycling were diverted from landfills
  • 2,135 pounds of technotrash and eCycling were diverted from landfills
  • 3.3 megawatts of electricity were saved thanks to energy efficiency upgrades to the lighting and water pump systems throughout our buildings
ECycled motherboards!

ECycled motherboards!

bird enrichment

Bird enrichment toy made from recycled newspapers!

In addition to our bigger programs, Aquarium staff are always thinking of new ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose materials for our everyday tasks! Our Animal Programs team is especially clever and has made numerous enrichment materials from used items!

  • Paper towel tubes as puzzle feeders for birds
  • Old phone books for our birds to shred
  • Used gift cards to open reptile mouths for medical exams
  • And much more…the list is endless!

Monty likes to hang out in recycled cardboard boxes

We invite you to use today’s celebration to adopt some easy recycling practices:

  • Take the America Recycles Day pledge
    (It’s never too early to get started on those New Year’s resolutions!)
  • Make it a family affair!
    Kick your new pledge into high-gear by sharing your commitment with your family/friends/community.
  • Discover new ways to recycle!
    We are a big fan of TerraCycle’s brigades , who collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste. Send your hard to recycle items off to TerraCycle and they will appropriately recycle for you!
  • Get crafty!
    Before you throw away that old pair of socks, t-shirt, book, cork, plastic milk jug or plastic water bottle check out these fun DIY crafts. They are easy (and cheap) ways to get a little more life out of these products.

Those are just a few ideas – we’d love to learn some new ones! What are YOUR favorite ways to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and/or Repurpose? 


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