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LED Christmas Light Exchange

The holiday season is upon us, with Thanksgiving just around the corner. The Cincinnati Zoo’s annual PNC Festival of Lights begins the evening of November 23, but preparations have already been in progress since mid-August. With over two-million LED lights to hang, it is no wonder we start so early. As guests enter the Zoo they will be welcomed by a breath-taking 35-foot-tall tree, blanketed with more than 20,000 LED lights in the Zoo’s Historic Vine Street Village. Even more lights are hung throughout the park, and a Wild Lights Show will occur on Swan Lake. Making the switch over from incandescent lights to LED lights was an easy, green decision to make. In doing so, the Zoo uses 85% less energy, making the event greener than ever.

You can join in the savings as well. As you start to pull out your boxes of decorations and untangle those lights, think about upgrading them to LEDs, if you haven’t already, which consume considerably less energy than incandescent lights. Home Depot is running their trade-in special to help customers get rid of their old incandescent lights and upgrade to LEDs. Bring in your old broken or used incandescent holiday light strings to be recycled at The Home Depot® and receive a $3-$5 discount (based on the product) on a single receipt in-store purchase of LED lights. Receive the discount for each string recycled.  Limit 5 discounts per customer. The light exchange runs now through November 14, 2012. B e green this holiday season, and don’t forget to come to the Festival of Lights!


November 6, 2012   1 Comment

Have a Green Halloween!

Photo by Kathy Newton

Halloween is just a week away! The Zoo has been celebrating with HallZOOween every weekend in October.  How will you be celebrating? Scary costumes, carved pumpkins, candy galore? However you celebrate, think about doing so in a sustainable way this Halloween. There are many easy ways to be green this Halloween.

  • If your little ghouls and goblins are trick or treating, have them collect their candy in a reusable bag made from sturdy material so it will last for many Halloweens to come. Pillow cases, reusable grocery sacks and canvas bags all make great vessels for collecting tasty treats. By using a bag that can be used again and again, not just for candy but for other items as well throughout the year, you will prevent plastic bags from filling up the landfill which reduces wildlife habitats, causes pollution and burns fossils fuels when transporting trash.
  • Get creative with costumes! Make something from items you already may have at home, or shop at a thrift store to give the costume some pizazz. If you are really crafty, considering sewing your own costume. Re-purpose items like a broken, black umbrella that can be turned into a bat. Or, swap costumes with other families and friends to give those store-bought costumes a second, third or even fourth life.  Many store-bought, pre-made costumes are made from plastic or vinyl, and are more likely to contain chemicals that are harmful for you and the environment. They typically do not last as long either.
  • As you share treats with the colorful, costumed boys and girls in your neighborhood, be mindful of the candy you pass out. Invest in organic candy if you can, avoid individually wrapped candy if possible, or try passing out non-candy items such as pencils, crayons or coins this year. If you do pass out traditional candy, invest in brands that are committed to using sustainable palm oil. Palm oil is used in products all over the world such as soaps, cosmetics, and many different candies and snacks. One species the Zoo works hard to preserve and protect is the Sumatran orangutan, which stands on the edge of extinction in the wild because their rain forest habitat is rapidly disappearing due to palm oil plantations. Luckily, there are companies out there that are aware of this issue and are dedicated to using sustainable palm oil. For a complete list thanks to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, click here.
  • The Cincinnati Zoo has also been dedicated to raising awareness about palm oil, and developed a ‘Sustainable Shopper App”. As consumers, we can choose to buy products made with sustainable palm oil as certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The Sustainable Shopper app connects you with more than 500 products manufactured by RSPO-certified companies. For more information and to download the app, click here.
  • Light the way using LED flashlights with reusable batteries, and/or petroleum free candles.
  • Grow your own pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns, and when the spooky night comes to an end, compost the castaways.

There are many ways to have a green Halloween this season! Doing so will help save natural resources, reduce waste and promote awareness for the conservation of species.

Photo by Kathy Newton

October 24, 2012   No Comments

Northern-Larona Community Park & Urban Farm Needs Your VOTE!

Please help the Cincinnati Zoo and our Avondale neighborhood win $15,000 for our community garden and urban farm through Nature’s Path “Gardens for Good” Contest! This is a project that has been in the works for a few years now. Just behind the Dury Employee Parking lot, on Northern Avenue, there used to be a vacant lot. It was filled with broken chain linked fencing, poison ivy, graffiti and trash. In addition, in the past 10 years, the neighborhood (called the Avenue District) has lost a lot of safe, green space for children to play and neighbors to gather.

The vacant lot before it became a beautiful park

The site before being turned into a park.


Residents of the Avenue District formed a Block Club, rallied together and joined forces with the Cincinnati Zoo, the Avondale Community Council, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and Chase Bank to turn the vacant lot into a vibrant, community green space.

Zoo Staff, Avendue District Residents and Volunteers work to turn the vacant lot into a community park.

Over the past 2 years, with the help of the Zoo’s Horticulture Department and dedicated volunteers from the Zoo, Chase Bank, the Avenue District and other parts of Avondale, the vacant lot has turned into a beautiful park with native trees, shrubs and flowers, a walking path and a grassy lawn for children to play. Now, we want to turn the park into something even more – an urban farm and community garden that will bring fresh, local food into the neighborhood where there is no fresh food available. This is truly a collaborative effort between the original partners, and Urban Greens, a great organization that is serious about turning vacant lots into thriving gardens, right in the middle of the city.

By voting for the Northern-Larona Community Park and Urban Farm every day in June, you will help us get one step closer to winning $15,000. The top 9 projects with the most votes will move onto the finals. This grant money would greatly help move the project forward, and allow us to purchase more supplies and equipment needed to turn this dream into a reality. It will be used for a 2nd water line, fencing, mulch, wood chips, garden tools, a shed, and so much more!

Northern-Larona Community Park and the future site of the urban farm

You can vote for our project at the following Facebook link:


There are projects that already have over 500 votes, and we are just over 100 right now. Please help us out, share with your family and friends, and help Northern-Larona Park bloom into a vibrant, urban farm – turning a food desert into a food oasis. Your help is greatly appreciated!

Questions? Contact Fia at gogreen@cincinnatizoo.org

June 15, 2012   1 Comment