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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

Earth Month, Day 10: Turning Trash into Treasure

The Zoo has been composting much of its organic waste for over a year now, and has recently begun composting in the Zoo Café. All of the plates, napkins, cutlery and most of the cups are compostable, as well as all of your food scraps.

Did you know that you can compost too, just like that Zoo? You can transform your kitchen and yard waste into a rich, nutritious compost for your garden.  It’s easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Save the peels, cores, skins, etc. from your food scraps. Mix in with leaves, grass clippings, twigs, etc. into a compost bin or pile.
  2. Turn your compost bin or pile every once in awhile, and make sure it is as wet as a wrung out sponge.
  3. About 3 months later, your food and yard waste will have decomposed into rich, nutritious compost. It should smell like good, earthy soil, be a rich dark color and you shouldn’t be able to recognize anything in it (i.e. a banana peel).

About 60% of overall household waste is compostable. By turning this waste into rich compost, you can keep it out of the landfill and provide your plants with chemical free, nutrient rich soil amendments.

DO Compost in your Backyard Bins/Piles:

  • Fruit & Vegetable Scraps such as orange peels, apple cores, watermelon rinds, carrot tops, potato peels, grape stems, pistachio shells, etc.
  • Coffee grinds and tea bags
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Straw
  • Twigs and wood chips

DO NOT Compost in your Backyard Bins/Piles:

  • Dairy Products
  • Meat/Fish
  • Oils
  • Pet Waste
  • Weed Seeds

There are great resources around the City to help get your started, including compost bins sold at Park+Vine, classes and information given by the Civic Garden Center or Hamilton County Recycling & Solid Waste District, compost blogs, and  many more.

Next Tuesday, April 17th, the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District will be hosting a Composting Seminar right here at the Cincinnati Zoo at 6:30pm. Registration is required as space is limited.  Details can be found here.

Get started with turning your trash into treasure! Save space in the landfill, create rich compost and watch your garden grow.



April 10, 2012   2 Comments

Oh Christmas Tree!

The holidays have come and gone so quickly! New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, and before we know it, all of our holiday cheer will be packed away once again. If you have a real Christmas tree this year, consider recycling it so it can become mulch, wood chips or compost and help future Christmas trees grow! According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year. Imagine if all of those trees are recycled! Close to 350 million Christmas trees currently grow on tree farms in the U.S. alone and for every Christmas tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. There are more than 4,000 local Christmas tree recycling programs throughout the United States, including the following throughout southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Make sure your tree is free of any lights, ornaments, other decorations, nails and wire before dropping them off or setting them at the curb (depending on your location).
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December 27, 2011   2 Comments