Taking Action for a Plastic Free July

Oakland Zoo
June 27, 2018

At Oakland Zoo/Conservation Society of California, we aim to take action for wildlife in many ways. One is by continually examining our dependency on single use plastics. Why? Plastics can have a direct negative affect on wildlife. Every year, millions of birds, marine mammals, fish and more are impacted by plastics. Plastic bags cause horrible entanglement injuries. Floating plastic bags look just like a jellyfish, and when ingested by a sea turtle or whale, often end in death. Particles of plastic when discarded incorrectly end up in nature and can be mistaken for food. Ingestion causes loss of nutrition, intestinal blockage and other serious illnesses and injuries. Half of all plastic produced is for single use plastic. At our current rate of production and consumption of these products there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. So, for the love or our planet, and those whales, sea turtles, condors and more, we are excited to evolve our practices and inspire others to do the same. 

Actions are easier in the company of others who care, so we are thrilled to join a motivated group of zoos, institutions and individuals for Plastic Free July!

The Plastic Free July movement is worldwide, involving 2 million people in 159 countries, all choosing to reduce their use of single use plastic. In this global movement, everyone’s small action add up to create a dramatically large reduction in plastic, and help improve recycling policies and practices. There is power in numbers!

By choosing substitutions to this plastic dilemma we are reducing landfill waste, saving our oceans and ensuring animals enjoy a safe existence in the natural world. Employees of the Oakland Zoo are Taking Action for Wildlife by taking up the challenge and you can too.

At the zoo:

On the grounds, we already take actions to avoid single use plastics: Our utensils, cups and plates are compostable, we eliminated plastic bags and straws and we offer bulk condiments. We just installed new water refill stations: another nice step! We feel proud of what we do, and challenge ourselves to do even more. 

We can too: 

Our Conservation team has also personally joined the challenge. Here's what they said!


"I recently found a great company online called Ethique that makes all kinds of beauty products ethically and without waste. The products are sustainable, cruelty free, and palm oil free. The best part is that they are also plastic free! ALL the packaging is compostable. I’ve been using the shampoo bar and conditioner for about 2 weeks now and I’m really happy with them. I just started using the lotion in a bar too! Love this!

Learn more »


"This challenge has pushed me to make changes I have been wanting to make. I now have mesh bags for produce in with my reusable shopping bags. I don’t have to kick myself when I go grocery shopping for needing a plastic produce bags so my grapes don’t roll around in the cart.”


"I admit, coffee is my weakness. There is nothing like a caffeine buzz to fuel my conservation actions each morning! I love a coffee shop near my house in Oakland and don’t always have that To Go beverage container I am looking for. I began using jars recently, and always have one on hand to grab before I head out for my day.

I also love to inquire. At the grocery store or elsewhere, I’ll ask staff members if there is a compostable or plastic free variety of that salad, sandwich or cosmetic. I also ask that they mention my interest to their manager. The more the establishments understand that their customers are passionate about the planet, the more motivation they have to make changes."

And so can you: 

Join the Plastic Free July challenge

Join Oakland Zoo’s monthly creek clean-ups and keep plastic out of the bay

Get Oakland Zoo’s Green Tip

Join us on Saturdays in July at the Conservation Pop-up in the Children’s Zoo Meadow. Connect with our special visiting organization to learn what they are doing to stop plastic from harming our waterways and how you can take action, too. 

What are some of your ideas for living a plastic-free life and what changes are you going to make? Comment below....we are ready to be inspired!