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I did some “dumpster diving” at work today. I know that is an unusual confession from a director of a department, but my department is made up of scavengers and rabid recyclers. Zoo Education departments are usually staffed by the “MacGyver’s” of the world. Give us some toilet paper rolls and yarn and we’ll make binoculars. Give me some coffee grounds and flour and I’ll make you a fossil. We don’t throw anything away (which can be a problem-just look at our offices.) We find use in every scrap of paper or pencil nub.
So why was I digging in the trash? I looked in and saw perfectly good pencils there, some reusable plastic nametags and a whole bag of new coffee stirrers! What great resources! I was excited at my finds, but dismayed at what our guests have thrown out. We take seriously our pledge to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We want the whole world to follow that mantra.
If you visit our facilities you will notice more and more signs of our dedication to conservation of our natural resources. There are bright red recycle trash cans. Our toilet paper is recycled. (Did you know Americans flush millions of trees a year down the toilet?) We have lights on sensors and we even turn our animal poop, coffee grounds and cardboard into compost for your gardens. (ZooDoo Gold-available now at the zoo gift shop)
Please think about what you throw out or the packaging that you buy. Using recycled materials reduces the need to damage forests, our precious wetlands, rivers and other places essential to wildlife. We know our guests come here to be entertained, but they also come here because they care about our wildlife and the earth. We will help you, we will teach you. We can all live a greener life and make the world a better place for future generations.
In a perfect society there would not be a need for garbage cans or dumpsters because everything would be reused. Until then, if you seen me digging in a trashcan you will know there must be some great educational resource in there.