More than 70 million tons of single-use plastics are produced every year. Only 9% of what is put in the recycling bin actually ends up being recycled -- the rest ends up in landfills, the ocean, or simply dumped - and takes about 1,000 years to decompose.
With 8 million tons of plastic finding its way into our oceans annually, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Animals on land are being equally affected by plastic. Littered plastic bags, fishing wires and bottles commonly trap and entangle wildlife. Some mistake plastic for food and consumption leaves them severely sick and often dead.
Plastic in our own backyard is hurting the California Condor. These majestic birds are eating bits of littered plastic, feeding it to their young and including it in their nests, all leading to illnesses and deaths of this endangered species.
Solutions to the plastic problem are practical and critically needed. Changes need to happen at all levels: manufacturing, correct recycling of plastic and personal purchasing choices. Simple changes to how we use plastic are the best way to combat this worldwide crisis.
How We Help
Around the Zoo
Water fountains and water refill stations throughout the zoo, making it easy to fill and reuse bottles
Our "Walk in the Wild" event went plastic free in 2019. Over 300 guests are given a reusable souvenir wine glass and fork-spoon set to enjoy the event's food and drink
Oakland Zoo staff joins in the worldwide Plastic Free July Challenge, encouraging each other to make strides in saying no to plastic
Easy to correctly recycle plastic through multiple wildlife-proof waste collection containers throughout the zoo
We are phasing out plastic trash bags zoo-wide. We use reusable or compostable paper bags for collecting yard work and go without bin liners in office spaces and break rooms
Plush Eco-kins from Wild Republic stuffed animals are made with 100% recycled materials and packaging is 100% recyclable
We worked directly with Wild Republic to modify packaging of Quest Toy Box Sets that now use no plastic covering and use metal clips to fasten toys to packaging
Bees Wrap, a non-plastic alternative for storage
Bamboo utensils and metal straws
Kastfel T-Shirts and hoodies made from plastic bottles
Reusable Tote Bags
Exclusively use compostable cutlery, plates, and cups for programs
Compost ZooSchool lunch waste from classrooms
We encourage waste-free lunches for programs
Avoid single-use plastic name tags and stickers for programs
Going Green in Our Restaurants
All plastic bottled drinks were removed from our cafes and snack stands in 2020. Instead we offer aluminum drink cans, reusable cups and pre-filled reusable water bottles.
Popcorn, milk & cotton candy packaging changed to more eco-friendly packaging
All plates, napkins, cups and utensils are compostable and able to be disposed of in the compost bin
Milk changed from packages that contain straws to disposable milk cartons
We have implemented a three-stream waste sorting system in our kitchens and back-of-house areas in all cafes
Reusable Oakland Zoo water bottles available for purchase around the Zoo and at home
No To-Go packaging or plastic bags
We stopped using straws and coffee lids over a decade ago, and now offer reusable metal straws for sale
Animal Care Initiatives
Feed sacks repurposed as trash bags or storage throughout Animal Care
Portioned meat for animal diets is wrapped in butcher paper or compostable bags instead of plastic
Food storage for animals is in reusable Tupperware
Syringes used for medication safely reused as many times as possible
One master trash can used in sections instead of many, reducing usage of plastic bags
Dish gloves for cleaning at vet hospital are reusable
You Can Too!
Skip the Plastic
Choose reusable bottles instead of single use drinks
Skip the straw and coffee lid, opt for reusable
Bring utensils or opt for compostable
Avoid paper and plastic bags at the grocery store, use reusable bags instead
Pass on the single use coffee pods, choose a reusable option
Buy in bulk and opt for food without plastic packaging
Use newspaper instead of plastic bags to line waste bins
Help the Planet
#NoToPlastic Community Clean-Ups
Join Oakland Zoo in Taking Action for whales, sea turtles, shorebirds and all native Wildlife! Volunteers meet at the Zoo and ride the Zoo Shuttle to a local bay-destined waterway to remove trash, including the ever-abundant plastics that harms and kills our seabirds, turtles, fish and more. *Please note clean-ups are currently on hold.
Art created to save the Sea! Washed Ashore builds and exhibits aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in the ocean and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits. Visit our Washed Ashore statues at Oakland Zoo for a limited time from February 13 - August 6. Click here to buy your tickets to Oakland Zoo now!