For zoos, aquariums, and other informal science education centers, the message should be "Don't do as I say, do as I do!" Read the full article from Douglas Meyer in AZA's Connect magazine.
If you want to help your guests be more environmentally-friendly, you can start by telling them what your institution is doing. It should come as no surprise that many institutions are already taking major steps to be green: diverse actions that range from eliminating plastic bags from gift shops, to making their facilities more sustainable, and even conducting staff-wide campaigns to develop better eco-habits.
New research by The Ocean Project suggests that institutions can better leverage these positive actions as inspiring stories and motivate guests to change their behavior. Invite your guests to go green with you, leading the way by example.
“We know from our 16 years of public opinion research that visitors not only expect zoos and aquariums to provide them with information about conservation issues, but also that when they are on site they are inspired to act for conservation and truly trust and appreciate suggestions as to the ways they can join their local aquarium and zoo in going green,” says The Ocean Project Director Bill Mott. “We always understood that the emotional connection to live animals was a big part of that inspiration; yet, what we’ve learned most recently is that guests also can be inspired by what the zoo or aquarium is doing to help solve the problem, especially when these efforts are positioned in a ‘together-we-can’ way that implies taking solutions to scale.”
Interested in trying this out at your institution for World Oceans Day? Organize a trash-free event, or give away reusable bags or bottles to replace disposable plastic trash. Read the Better Bag Challenge Organizer's Guide for details.