Save the Sea Turtles - Say NO to Plastic

Oakland Zoo Conservation Department
October 21, 2020

How is Oakland Zoo saying No To Plastic?

We have eliminated single-use plastic from our cafes and gift shop. In all departments at the zoo, we reuse, reduce, and repurpose to avoid buying new plastic items. We are expanding the types of plastics we recycle and seek out reusable or compostable alternatives. In February 2020, we launched the “No To Plastic'' campaign to share our passion for the environment and encourage our visitors to join us in creating a future free of single-use plastic.

The featured Washed Ashore sculptures that greet visitors as they enter the Zoo embody the plastics problem in a guttural and relatable manner. These larger than life sculptures are made solely from the trash that washed ashore on a single beach in Oregon. Looking at these intricate art sculptures, it's impossible to not think about the huge variety of waste (flip flops, toothbrushes, etc.) that litters beaches, and what that means for the planet.

Why has plastic become such a problem for the planet and sea life? With 300 million tons of plastic produced annually and only 10% being recycled, it is easy to see why plastic is a tremendous source of waste. Plastic is finding its way into our waterways and oceans from litter and improper disposal. This plastic is endangering the lives of animals who eat it, because it mimics food or smells like food. The problem of eating plastic is not limited to animals; microplastics are finding their way into the foods we eat too.

Oakland Zoo supports partners like ARCAS, who are dealing directly with the plastic problem in their conservation work. ARCAS has been dedicated to helping sea turtle populations recover by mitigating the effects of poaching and plastic pollution in Guatemala. They rehabilitate sea turtles injured by fishing lines and who have become sick from consuming plastic bags. To combat the plastic crisis, their work has expanded to educating local communities about waste disposal and organizing beach and river cleanups. Their work tackles the plastic problem on a local level, and helps animals on a worldwide level. You can support these efforts by adopting a sea turtle nest.

Oakland Zoo’s “No To Plastic” pledge is something we are dedicated to year-round. This pledge is embedded in the actions we take, in our purchasing and onsite waste diversion. It is the root of the work we do in our community to keep our ecosystems clean with community clean-ups. Our partners strive to build a healthier planet for all, to save the species they are working to protect. We are proud to keep evolving, improving, and engaging others in building a healthier future that is free of plastic. WE hope you will join us in pledging to say “No To Plastic” too!

Sign the pledge here.