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Category — Living Green

Teens Help Others “Go Green”

Written by guest blogger, Jessica Klosinski, Sustainability Intern and AIP Graduate Student

While most teens are spending their summer at the pool or playing video games, others are educating Zoo visitors on sustainable choices and going green. The group is called “Green Teens” and you can find them volunteering in the Zoo’s Go Green Garden where they have spent most of their summer. The Go Green Garden exhibit is located across from the Elephants, not far from the Vine Street Village.

The Go Green Garden Exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo

The Go Green Garden Exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo

The teens describe their typical day as greeting and helping guests, giving green tours, helping in the Base Camp Café, and interacting with children. “Interacting with kids is the best; they get really excited,” says Hannah Quillin, 15. The teens are stationed in the Zoo’s Go Green Garden, an area dedicated to educating guests about the zoo’s green initiatives and how they can make sustainable choices in their own lives. Olivia King, 16, one of the green teens, says that talking about water conservation is her favorite part of the zoo’s green story. King and friend Mattina Girardot, 16, say that there is so much to talk about regarding water, from pervious pavement found throughout the zoo to the water retention tanks in the new Africa exhibit. Nicole Armbruster, 14, says that she loves to tell guests that we are “the Greenest Zoo in America.”

Nicole, Mattina, Olivia, Hannah and Melissa in the Go Green Garden.

Nicole, Mattina, Olivia, Hannah and Melissa in the Go Green Garden.

Another place the teens are active is in the Base Camp Café, recently deemed the greenest restaurant in America. The teens help educate the guests as they sort their waste into compost, recycle, and landfill. These teens aren’t all talk either, they say that volunteering has helped them feel connected to conservation and incorporate sustainable living into their own lives. “I yell at people at home for leaving the lights on,” says King. Melissa Holland, 15, shared that volunteering at the zoo has helped her be more involved in programs she didn’t know about before like participating in the Adopt an Animal program. “I recently adopted a female rhino,” Holland says.

Olivia and Mattina teach guests how to sort their lunch waste into bins marked compost, recycle, and landfill.

Olivia and Mattina teach guests how to sort their lunch waste into bins marked compost, recycle, and landfill.

The teens joked, saying they would love to require conservation actions from the public. “I wish everyone had to compost and recycle,” says Quillin. Volunteering at the zoo has also helped to develop responsibility and people skills both valuable in their future career endeavors. Holland has even considered a career in environmental engineering and conservation. The teens say this opportunity has helped them to become more outgoing and to meet other like-minded teens that care about conservation. Representing the greenest zoo in America is a big responsibility but these teens have taken on the challenge. Come visit the teens in the Go Green Garden the next time you visit the zoo; they would love to help you learn how to GO GREEN!

August 16, 2013   1 Comment

Earn Money for the Zoo with MyActions.Org!

Help the Greenest Zoo in America raise money by recording YOUR green actions! Cincinnati’s regional sustainability alliance, Green Umbrella, is in the middle of their Spring Challenge in collaboration with MyActions.org, the social network for the planet. MyActions is a tool to share any green action you have taken throughout the day, and to encourage others to do the same. Tips, videos, and photographs can be shared to even further motivation and knowledge about green actions.

The Cincinnati Zoo has joined the challenge and we need YOUR help. Sign up to join our team, record your actions, and raise money for the Zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo has a team set up – all we need are members to join and start logging their actions! Go to http://www.myactions.org/greenumbrella, click on Cincinnati Zoo. You will then be taken to a sign up page – fill in your information and start logging your actions! You can even download the free app for your iPhone, iPod, and iPad which makes it even more convenient to share your actions.

Money is earned based on the number of actions and points you earn. Each time you log an action, you can include photos and comments – which gives you more points and more money! You can even share on Facebook.

An example of MyActions website, the social network for the planet.

An example of MyActions website, the social network for the planet.

The Zoo is currently #2 in the challenge behind Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. They have 35 members with 791 actions recorded and $230.25 raised for them. We have 34 members with 559 actions recorded and $131.25 raised for the Zoo.

Please sign up and start sharing your actions! Anything from recycling, adjusting the thermostat, carpooling, composting, turning lights off, unplugging electronics, taking short showers, sharing conservation information (so all keeper talks, shows, summer camps, etc. would be an action each day!), buying local, and biking are just a few of the actions that you can record. Each action you take can have a BIG impact on conservation. Saving water and energy, reducing waste and pollution, and raising awareness can all impact the habitats where these plants and animals live.

Share with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and ask them to join the Cincinnati Zoo’s team as a part of the Green Umbrella challenge, which ends June 22nd. Help us become #1 in the challenge, while raising money and doing good for wildlife.

June 12, 2013   2 Comments

Greenest Restaurant in America!

How about that!  Greenest restaurant in America!  In fact, when the Green Restaurant Association took a look at our new Base Camp Café, the Cincinnati Zoo scored the highest sustainability rating of any restaurant EVER!  We’re composting and getting out of the landfill.  We’re serving fresher, local foods.  And we’re working toward a monster goal of having our zoo visitors eat as well as our animals!

And it’s not just our restaurant . . .

Over the past 7 years the Cincinnati Zoo has become nationally known as “The Greenest Zoo in America.”  And this isn’t just a branding campaign or a marketing plan, we have the data to back it up.  The Cincinnati Zoo uses 1/3 the water we used in 2006, when we began our big sustainability push.  And though we have added 25% more buildings, animal exhibits, and facilities since then, we use LESS electricity and natural gas than we did back then.  And it’s important to note that we didn’t accomplish this by blowing money on big new systems.  In fact, part of why our “Go Green” program is so effective is that we actually save a fortune through our sustainability programs.  That way, we can invest those utility savings in upkeep and improving the zoo – for both our animals and our visitors.

The Way Forward

Of course, it’s not about winning awards or recognition.  The Cincinnati Zoo models effective ways to “Go Green” because it is good for our community and good for our world, as well as our bottom line.  The big challenges that both wildlife and people face in the 21st Century are not going to be solved top-down.  There is no magic wand that the World Wildlife Fund or the EPA can wave to save the world.  Even huge problems like habitat loss and climate change will only be solved by hundreds of millions of better, more informed, decisions being made every day across America.  Today the US leads the world in consumption.  We can also lead the way in going green.

Come over to the Cincinnati Zoo and we’ll show you how.

June 7, 2013   4 Comments