Aquarium Gift Shop Reduces Plastic Use

By New England Aquarium on Monday, April 22, 2024

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New England Aquarium Gift Shop Photo: Vanessa Kahn

The New England Aquarium’s top priority is protecting the blue planet for generations to come. The latest step in demonstrating that commitment is ensuring that the Gift Shop is phasing out plastic. This effort, which has been years in the making, is part of the Aquarium’s retail partner Event Network’s Plastic S.T.O.P.S. Initiative,* and has resulted in more than just the removal of single-use plastic. The Aquarium has replaced all plastic products with those that are plastic-free, biodegradable, or constructed from recycled plastic materials.

The process began in 2018 with the removal of plastic pellets from the assortment of plush animals first and, later, the move to fill the furry stuffed items with recycled/post-consumer fill in 2019. The Aquarium and Event Network also pushed back against the industry standard of individually bagging souvenir items in plastic for shipping.

To reach the goal of using more eco-friendly materials, Event Network researched and identified replacement options that were plastic-free, biodegradable, or constructed from recycled plastic materials. By January 2024, the gift shop completed the initial plastic purge.

The Aquarium will continue working with Event Network to create an environment in which its products, packaging, and processes can help protect the blue planet.

Did You Know?

  • The New England Aquarium gift shop sold more than 26,000 reusable bags  in 2023, which is the equivalent of saving nearly 1.4 million plastic bags from landfills over a year of usage
  • More than 380,000 plastic bottles were recycled to create and fill the store’s plush assortment.
  • Candy and snacks are sold in packaging that can be composted commercially or at home
  • A plastic-free replacement for one of the Aquarium’s former best-selling toys, the animal rescue kit, is also in the works.
  • The Aquarium has also transitioned to EcoChit, a recyclable receipt paper vendor that supports reforestation projects worldwide
  • The Gift Shop features a new fair trade, responsibly sourced apparel line Wearsponsible.
  • The Aquarium sources items from local vendors and artists like Maritime Tribes, Mystic Knotworks, and Beacon Designs as well as merchandise created in partnership with local Boston artist Silvia Lopez Chavez.

*Event Network’s Plastic S.T.O.P.S. Initiative focuses on five key areas: Strategize plastic sell-through, Track plastic items, Order the best and newest alternative products, Promote adjacent product departments, and Share results with transparency and integrity.




A tee shirt display at the New England Aquarium Gift Shop
A tee shirt display at the New England Aquarium Gift Shop Photo: Vanessa Kahn

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