Implementing practices that improve the health of our communities for our visitors, staff, and volunteers is an important piece of our conservation mission.
What we do at the Aquarium:
The National Aquarium is dedicated to improving the health of the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to making everyday business decisions that decrease our impact on our local environment, we have been actively engaged in local habitat restoration projects for more than a decade. To date, we have helped restore more than 155 acres of vital habitat in our region, removed more than 500,000 pieces of debris from our waterways, and planted more than 1.5 million native plants. Learn how you can help!
Did you know that part of the Aquarium's roof is green? A green roof was installed on a portion of Pier 3 just behind the Australia exhibit. Green roofs provide many benefits. They reduce heating and cooling loads on a building, and reduce stormwater runoff by acting as a sponge. Pollutants and carbon dioxide are also filtered out of the air. Finally, green roofs provide habitat for plants, insects, and birds that otherwise have limited natural space in cities.
In 2010, the Aquarium installed a manmade floating wetland in the harbor. Floating islands have the potential to provide the same benefits as traditional wetlands, and this island is a pilot to see if this could be a successful and cost-effective way to improve harbor water quality. Natural wetlands act as filters that pull excess nutrients from the water, and we expect the plants in the floating island will act in the same way. We will be monitoring the water quality surrounding the islands and documenting the abundance of animals that utilize the new habitat area.
Aquarium staff members are encouraged to do their part to help save our planet. Each year, every Aquarium employee gets a paid day off to participate in a conservation event in their own community.
We also help support a number of other conservation efforts, including Earth Day, Baltimore Green Week, World Oceans Day, and International Migratory Bird Day.
What you can do:
Use a gas-free, eco-friendly, and quiet push lawn mower—your neighbors will thank you! After mowing, leave lawn clippings on the lawn. They add nutrients to the soil.
Control insects using natural controls instead of pesticides. Americans directly apply 70 million pounds of pesticides to home lawns and gardens each year and, in so doing, kill birds and other wildlife and pollute our precious water resources.
Plant native trees and shrubs, because they need less fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can run off into waterways, which is bad for wildlife. And the shade that trees provide keeps your house cooler, so you can use less electricity in the warm months.
Don't pour anything down storm drains because they lead to the bay, which connects to the ocean. Most sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants do not remove poisonous cleaners, and yard and car-wash chemicals make their way into local waterways, and, eventually, into our ocean, harming animals along the way. You wouldn't want to swim in those chemicals, and neither do animals!
What we do at the Aquarium:
Staff members have the option to join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that delivers organic, locally grown produce right to the Baltimore venue.
The National Aquarium serves local, seasonal, and sustainable food in our cafes, and also introduced a dinner series that celebrates ocean-friendly seafood choices. Fresh Thoughts: A Sustainable Seafood Dining Series consists of elegant evening events that feature educational cooking demonstrations by guest chefs and seated dinners overlooking the Aquarium's coveted view of the Baltimore Harbor.
What you can do:
Become a locavore:
A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius (such as 100 miles). The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers' markets or grow their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is also an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, because grocery stores that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.
Buying directly from family farms helps them stay in business and is good for your local economy, and usually farm market prices are lower than those in grocery stores. In addition, the existing system of food transportation and distribution in the U.S. requires enormous amounts of energy and resources. The average food item travels 1,300 miles! In fact, only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the food system is used for production. The other 90% goes into the packaging, transportation, and marketing of the food. Buying locally helps reduce the amount of energy and CO2 emissions emitted during this process.
Choose ocean-friendly seafood: People are eating more seafood than ever, and the ocean and its fish are being pushed to the limit. According to the United Nations, approximately two-thirds of ocean species are overfished, and many types of fish farming are highly damaging to coastal ecosystems. Choose sustainable seafood, which is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future and don't harm the surrounding environment. You can obtain a Seafood Watch Pocket Guide at the Aquarium, or download one here.
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