Beyond the Aquarium
a Zero-Waste Year
Time to start working on your “waste”-line…
It’s that time of year again when we reflect on the year behind us and resolve to change undesired behaviors, accomplish personal goals, or improve life in the year ahead.
If you’re looking for resolutions that could help you improve your life AND benefit the environment, look no further! Here are eight tips to reduce your waste in 2020:
Get rid of your (plastic) baggage.
Plastics of all shapes and sizes inevitably end up in the ocean when they’re improperly disposed of. Plastic bags are a particular challenge for sea turtles because the bags bear a remarkable resemblance to sea jellies. Refuse plastic bags when you’re shopping and bring your own reusable totes to use instead.
The (plastic) straw that broke the camel’s back.
When plastic does make it into the ocean, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as “microplastics” rather than biodegrading or dissolving, which poses great threats to marine life, including fish. Skip the straws you don’t need and ask your favorite restaurant to only offer straws on request. If you need to use a straw, opt for reusable ones. Make your last straw the first step to plastic-free waters. Take the pledge today!
Keep calm and compost.
Whether it’s cooked, raw, or rotten, don’t let it go to waste! In 2013, we disposed more than 35 million tons of food waste. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Combat food waste with composting! A large amount of waste can be composted and returned to the earth, providing nutrients to the soil. Healthy Earth = happy humans.
B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bottle)
Water bottles and paper coffee cups are huge wastes of material. Just like plastic bags and straws, single-use drink cups can find their way into the ocean and wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. Buy reusable water bottles and coffee mugs that allow you to hydrate responsibility. Many coffee shops will now allow you to bring your own travel mug to get filled as opposed to getting served in a single-use cup.
Ditch the decorations.
Make 2020 the year of Plastic-Free Parties, starting with your New Year’s Eve bash. Streamers, balloons, tinsel, and wrapping paper all make for a few hours of fun, but is it really worth the thousands of years that some of those decorations will be decomposing in the environment? Sorry to be the party pooper.
And while you’re at it…use real cutlery over its plastic counterpart.
Say no to plastic cups, dishes, and cutlery. Opt for recyclable, eco-friendly implements or ditch the single-use options all together. Because nothing says class like eating your hot dog and chips off fine china.
Stop fiddling with the plastic wrap and start using reusable containers.
Single-use storage materials such as wraps, plastic bags, and foils add to waste in landfills and can harm wildlife for a variety of reasons. Save money and waste by purchasing reusable containers for storing leftovers and traveling with food. Bonus: your sandwich will never get smushed in a plastic sandwich bag again.
Learn how to recycle
Be sure to properly dispose of recyclables. Recyclables that are improperly disposed of can end up in landfills. If we recycle right, we can reduce waste by 40 percent in Boston. You can read the City of Boston’s guidelines for recycling or you can search the web for your city’s recycling guidelines.
The New England Aquarium’s Resolutions
Here on Central Wharf, we’ve worked to eliminate all single-use plastics in favor of recyclable, compostable, or reusable materials in our Harbor View Café. Paper straws and compostable cup lids are now available only upon request. Bottled water now comes in single-use aluminum bottles that are recyclable, or you can purchase a reusable Aquarium water bottle to use at one of our refill stations and then take everywhere. In 2020, we’re working to take big steps toward reducing our carbon footprint. This includes increasing the efficiency of our facilities with alternative technology and instituting new aquaculture practices that allow us to hand-rear certain species. By making thoughtful choices and working together, we can make 2020 a year full of positive environmental impacts that could last for years to come.