22 Top Aquariums Up the Ante in National Push to Cut Plastic Pollution
With 5 million straws a year eliminated and almost 500 businesses on board as partners, #FirstStep campaign presses for new public, policy commitments through Earth Day 2019
Twenty-two top aquariums across the United States, including Audubon Aquarium of the Americas have already eliminated 5 million straws in their coordinated campaign to reduce sources of plastic pollution. Now they’re upping their game by encouraging individuals, businesses and cities around the country to cut back on single-use plastic—starting with plastic straws—by Earth Day 2019.
Banding together in a joint #FirstStep to plastic-free waters, the aquariums seek commitments from 500 more businesses, pledges from individuals, and policy action by municipalities, all to reduce a growing source of single-use plastic waste that harms ocean and freshwater wildlife around the world.
The campaign will kick off during #NoStrawNovember, a nationwide movement asking people who don’t need them to refuse plastic straws for 30 days.
“The number of plastic straws that end up in the trash has always bothered me, as it really seems like such an unnecessary waste. By revisiting when we offer our guests straws and switching to paper products, we have been able to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill,” says Chef Ryan Prewitt of Peche.
The #FirstStep campaign includes:
Recruiting 500 new businesses to partner with aquariums across the country by committing to offer straws only on request, for a total of 1,000 businesses committed by Earth Day 2019
An online pledge site (pledge.ourhands.org/) where individuals can commit to make the last straw their first step to plastic-free waters
Initiatives by partner aquariums to inspire cities in their regions to pass straws-on-request ordinances and other local measures to reduce single-use plastic
Since the 2017 launch of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), 22 partner aquariums in 17 states – located on the coasts and in the heartland – have eliminated more than 5 million straws a year, stopped using plastic shopping bags, and have committed to significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by 2020. Nearly 500 businesses—including United Airlines, the Chicago White Sox, Dignity Health hospitals and Farmer Brothers Coffee—have made plastic-reduction commitments in collaboration with ACP aquariums.
Municipalities in aquarium communities, and California on a statewide basis, have enacted laws either banning single-use plastic from many foodservice operations or requiring businesses to offer plastic straws only when customers request them. ACP partner aquariums are supporting these efforts in a variety of ways.
“Audubon is committed to leading our community by example when it comes to protecting the environment. Since 2017, we’ve gotten rid of plastics straws, eliminated plastic bags in our gift shops, and moved from plastic to aluminum bottled water. Skipping the straw is an easy first step for many to join the larger conversation on how we can combat plastic pollution together,” says John Fallon, Director of Sustainability and Coastal Conservation.
Audubon has also been working within the community in New Orleans to partner with businesses to participate in this campaign. To date more than 10 restaurants are committed to eliminate straws. For a full list of businesses click here.
ACP's initiative has already expanded globally. Its work sparked the European Commission and United Nations Environment Program – with support from five international partners, including ACP – to announce a commitment by European Union Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella at the 5th international "Our Ocean" conference October 29-30 in Bali, Indonesia to coordinate a global coalition of 200 aquariums by 2019 to raise public awareness about plastic pollution.
For information on how to get involved with Audubon on this campaign, please visit: audubonnatureinstitute.org/conservation-programs/plastic-pollution.
For more information about the #FirstStep campaign or to take the pledge, please visit pledge.ourhands.org/.
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.
About the Aquarium Conservation Partnership
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is a collaboration of 22 U.S. public aquariums in 17 states, all committed to advancing conservation of the world’s ocean, lakes, and rivers through consumer engagement, business leadership, and policy changes. ACP was founded by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and National Aquarium in Baltimore, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. More information at pledge.ourhands.org/.