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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

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