Visitor engagement opportunity: new CA microbead ban

Microbeads cause problems in the ocean - and even end up in our seafood.

Microbeads cause problems in the ocean – and even end up in our seafood.

Great news in ocean conservation: Today the Governor of California signed the toughest bill to date banning microbeads. Our research suggests that news events like this one offer an important, albeit often fleeting opportunity, to connect with guests on ocean issues. We encourage you, especially staff at zoos and aquariums, to take advantage of it!

Why talk about this? Though the public is largely aware of the overall problem of ocean pollution in the form of visible plastic trash, anecdotal evidence suggests that people remain largely unaware of the specific problem posed by microplastics. At the risk of using the technical term, people are “grossed out” when they learn that microbeads can be found in a lot of their personal care products such as facial scrubs, even toothpaste. So today’s news offers an opportunity to communicate about this issue in a way that both the ocean and guests will appreciate.

Show that positive change is happening

How do we incorporate this message? It’s awesome to draw attention to conservation successes when we ask people to take action. Here are some ways to incorporate this messaging opportunity:

  • A simple message referencing how visitors “may have seen in the news how states are taking action to ban products with microbeads,”
  • Adding that we all can help by avoiding the purchase of soaps, scrubs, toothpastes and other products with microbeads until such time that these bans come into effect
  • Giving a specific example of how eliminating microbeads helps a specific ocean animal

Use of these messages is exactly in line with our the overall finding from our research that zoo and aquarium guests expect, trust and appreciate information about ways they can help the ocean and its animals.

For those in states that already have taken action (note that California now joins Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey in taking action), it also can be an opportunity for folks to ‘thank their lawmakers.’

Let us know how it goes!

Photo credit Wolfram Burner.

Posted in Blog Posts, Conservation communication, Visitor engagement opportunities and tagged , , , .

Douglas Meyer

Douglas has helped a wide range of national and international nonprofit organizations develop, evaluate, and improve their outreach efforts. As a consultant teamed up with firm of Bernuth & Williamson, he has worked with The Ocean Project for nearly a decade, as well as other leading environmental organizations such as Resources for the Future, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as well as the Environment Program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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