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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

One Day Only: Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale!!!

It’s been 5 months since the Cincinnati Zoo started composting 8 tons of organic waste a week! This organic material includes herbivorous animal waste, straw bedding, cardboard chips and food waste from animal diets. You can join the Zoo and compost too! Composting helps reduce your waste by 30% and provides an excellent soil amendment to your garden. Start a pile in your backyard and add food scraps such as orange rinds, apple cores, banana peels and carrot peelings as well as coffee grinds and tea bags! You can also add in leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste. Turn the pile every few days and in a few months time you’ll have rich, organic compost filled with great nutrients that will help your gardens grow. Keep your pile contained by using a compost bin. [Read more →]

May 11, 2011   No Comments

Driving Green

The oil spill that has occurred in the Gulf this past April has hopefully caused all of us to look a little more closely at our behaviors and take action that will have a positive effect. The number one way each person can help out is reducing your use of oil by driving less and increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Of course, being summer time, driving less may be hard to do. Many of us drive to take the kids to summer camp, go on summer vacation, visit with family and friends and of course, drive to work every day. If you do need to drive, do so in an eco-friendly and fuel efficient way. Wildlife, and your wallet, will thank you.

Eco-Friendly Driving Tips

  • Share the ride – Carpool with coworkers or other families and save money on tolls and gas while significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions
  • Combine trips – Instead of going out for every item or errand that you need as it comes up, combine trips and go on one, multi-errand trip. You’ll save gas, time and wear and tear on your car.
  • Watch your speed – Driving at 50mph uses 30% less fuel than driving at 70mph. Maintain a constant speed while you are on the highway. Utilize cruise control if you have it. Studies have shown that aggressive driving (sharp acceleration, hard breaking, high speeds) reduces travel time only by 4%, but increases fuel consumption by up to 40%.
  • Check your tires – Maintain the correct tire pressure. Driving with under inflated tires increases resistance against the road surface, thus making your car’s engine work harder and uses more fuel. It will also increase the wear and tear of your tire and affect the car’s handling, increasing the risk of an accident. Ideally, check your tires every week or two to ensure they are at the correct pressure.
  • Lighten your load – Avoid hauling around excess weight or drag, such as luggage or golf clubs in your trunk. Doing so reduces your car’s fuel efficiency.
  • Good oil – Check your oil level, and use the recommended grade of oil for your car. Using different motor oil can reduce your car’s efficiency by 2% but switching to the right grade will save you more than 10 gallons of gas annually. Look out for oil leaks and get them fixed immediately if you find one.
  • Don’t be idle – Avoid idling your engine. If you’ll be stopped for more than a minute, it makes sense to turn off your engine. It will save on fuel.
  • No more A/C – Lay off the A/C and use windows instead because using the A/C can increase fuel consumption by more than 20% in city driving. Unless it is stifling hot, roll down the windows or use your car’s flow through ventilation if you’re going at higher speeds.
  • Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

To find out more about the oil spill and what the Zoo is doing to help, visit our website.


How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, by Joanna Yarrow


July 29, 2010   No Comments