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Category — Eat Like an Animal

Red, White, Blue … & Green!

8 Tips to Celebrate Sustainably this Fourth of July

Guest post: Mary Sticklen and Kaitlin Burt – Sustainability interns

The Fourth of July is a great day to celebrate our country by cooking out and watching fireworks. Unfortunately, some of our traditional ways of celebrating can have negative impacts on the environment. So here are some tips that will help you to add some green into your red, white, and blue celebrations!

Tip 1: Buy Local

As you plan for your barbeques make sure to try and source your beef locally and buy your produce and breads at local farmer’s markets. There are farmer’s markets you can still visit before the Fourth (Findlay Market (8am-2pm), Lebanon (3pm-7pm), Madeira (3:30pm-7pm), and Mt. Washington (3pm-7pm). Or check out the locally supplied and organic products at your nearest grocery store.

Display of edible garden items on side deck of Base Camp Cafe.

Display of edible garden items on side deck of Base Camp Cafe.

The aquaponics system in the Zoo's Greenhouse made possible by the Woodward Family Charitable Foundation.

The aquaponics system in the Zoo’s Greenhouse provides food for Zoo animals & Base Camp Cafe.

Tip 2: Ditch Plastic Dishes

While you are feasting this fourth, make sure to use your glassware or buy biodegradable dishware instead of buying plastic or Styrofoam. Biodegradable dishware is not much more expensive than its plastic counterparts and the environmental difference is significant. Biodegradable dishware only takes a few months to degrade in landfills, while plastic can take hundreds of years!

Tip 3: Carpool

The Fourth is a great to time catch up with friends and family. To save money and help the planet carpool to your events and parties.

Tip 4: Reuse Your Cup

If you’re having a big party, opt for serving drinks in large pitchers rather than serving drinks in cans and bottles, which can pile up fast. If you do use plastic cups when serving, make sure to write everyone’s name on them so you only have to use one. Also don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle!

Tip 5: Use Propane

One way you can make your cookout greener is to use propane to grill the food rather than charcoal. Charcoal grills produce almost three times the amount of greenhouse gases as propane. If propane is not an option, charcoal briquettes made from scrapwood are the most environmentally friendly.

Tip 6: Compost and Recycle

Being diligent about your food waste and recyclables is another easy way to be green. If possible compost all your food waste after the party and make sure to recycle any cans or bottles.

Clearly marked waste disposal containers in Base Camp Cafe.

Clearly marked waste disposal containers in Base Camp Cafe.

Tip 7: Watch Fireworks with Friends

Fireworks are an integral Fourth of July tradition, however they are not the most environmentally friendly. Instead of setting off your own fireworks, bring your friends to a local firework event rather than setting off your own. Firework events in the Cincinnati include:

Mariemont Independence Celebration

Loveland Fourth of July Celebration

Red White & Blue Ash Fireworks

Harrison 4th of July Celebration

Ault Park Independence Day Fireworks

Indian Hill 4th of July Celebration

Norwood Hometown Fireworks

If you are setting off your own fireworks make sure to buy fireworks that are high in nitrogen because they release less smoke into the environment.

Tip 8: Enjoy the Outdoors

The best way to appreciate the outdoors is to go out and enjoy it. Have fun with your friends and family and enjoy the fresh air!

Imani the African lion enjoying the outdoors

Imani the African lion enjoying the outdoors

July 3, 2014   1 Comment

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   5 Comments

Eat Locally!

Eat like an animal, and eat locally! Because our animals are from many different parts of the world, their food may travel quite a distance to make it to the Zoo. Did you know that on average, your food travels 1500 miles from farm to table? In the Greater Cincinnati region alone, about $5 billion is spent each year on food. If each of us shifted just 10% of our food to locally produced fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, meat and dairy, we could shift $49 million into our local economy, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions from transporting food. This would also create 522 local jobs. Our commissary has made the shift and does their best to source as much of our food (both for our animals and for our guests!) as we can, locally.

Consider shopping locally for some, or even all, of your food needs. There are many ways you can do so – shop at a local farmers market, join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, visit local farms, support community gardens, grow in your own yard/patios, or have Green B.E.A.N. Delivery bring fresh, local food right to your doorstep. Our local foodshed, as defined by Green Umbrella Local Food Action Team, is within the Central Ohio River watershed – food grown within a 50-mile radius of downtown Cincinnati or a 100-mile radius by growers who regularly sell within a 50-mile radius.

Each year a local food guide is published and highlights all of the local farms, farmers markets, CSA programs and other food related opportunities in our region. It also has a great list of restaurants that source some of their dishes with ingredients from local farms. You can download the CORV Food Directory at their website.

A few other great resources include the Ohio Proud and Kentucky Proud websites that list Ohio and Kentucky small businesses that make, farm or supply mostly food related products. Indiana has some great resources as well, listed on this website.

In our Avondale neighborhood, a great source of local food is Gabriel’s Place – a community garden, community kitchen and marketplace. Their Farmers Market will open up weekly on Thursdays from 4-6pm beginning June 7th, and may feature any of the following:  fresh, local fruits and vegetables, self-made craft goods, breads, baked goods and spices, meats, dairy and beans. Mark your calendar now! Gabriel’s Place is located at 3618 Reading Road, next to the Hirsch Recreation Center.

Consider making the 10% shift, eat locally and support your local food economy while cutting down on carbon emissions!

May 21, 2012   1 Comment