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Waterfront Park

Reduce Waste

Our successes in our efforts to reduce waste are defined by our ability to master the four Rs:


Responsible waste management starts with purchasing. Whether purchasing material for office supplies, construction projects, or food and retail sales, we strive to first reuse what is available or choose items that are environmentally friendly. At the end of the life cycle, we then make every effort to reduce what is sent to a landfill through an intricate reuse/recycle effort.


What we do at the Aquarium:

Just say no! Cutting off consumption is the best way to reduce the waste stream. At the Aquarium, we've said "no" to disposable servingware in the cafes by switching to reusable plates and silverware and by eliminating straws and lids. At staff meetings, coffee is served but not with disposable cups—staff need to bring their own reusable mug to get their caffeine jolt.

What you can do:

Ditch Junk Mail
100 million trees are chopped down each year for junk mail. For every 1,000 of us who succeed in halving our personal bulk mail, we will save 170 trees, nearly 46,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 70,000 gallons of water each year. There are many services that will remove you from junk mail lists for a small fee; just type "stop junk mail" into your Internet search engine.

Carry water in a reusable container rather than buying bottled water.

Paper or Plastic? Neither!
Avoid the store's plastic and paper bags and bring along a reusable shopping bag, available at the Aquarium gift shop.

You can save trees and reduce landfill waste in meaningful ways by choosing products with minimal packaging, using cloth napkins instead of paper, and paying your bills electronically.


What we do at the Aquarium:

For Watermarks, our magazine, we selected recycled paper and vegetable-based inks and wind power, saving the following resources in 2011: 149 fully grown trees; 105 million BTUs; 7,004 pounds of solid waste; 63,287 gallons of fresh water; 13,723 pounds of greenhouse gases.

What you can do:

When you do purchase something new, choose products with the least packaging, such as those sold in bulk.


What we do at the Aquarium:

When you walk across the exterior harbor footbridge, do you feel a little spring in your step? We used 98,342 plastic milk jugs to renovate it!

Compost bins are in the Aquarium' cafes for guests to use after eating, and our staff also participates by composting rather than throwing biodegradable materials in the trash. In 2011, 20 tons of food waste was composted into nutrient-rich soil—some of which even came back to us for use in the planters in our Waterfront Park!

The Aquarium Animal Programs staff repurposes toilet paper tubes, used towels, plastic bottles, old phone books, and other materials for education programs and animal enrichment.

We turned 53 wetsuits into 575 bottle cozies, sold in our gift shop, which kept 92 pounds of neoprene out of landfills.

Aquarium staff members look forward to office supply swaps and book swaps. Staff members bring in office supplies, books, DVDs, and CDs they no longer want, and browse their coworkers' castoffs.

What you can do:

Buy "vintage": Thrift stores and consignment shops offer a treasure trove of clothing and goods, and the low prices are an added bonus!

Take those bags and boxes of styrofoam packing peanuts that are hogging your closet space to your local packaging and shipping business, so they can be reused.


What we do at the Aquarium:

Through Waste Management, the Aquarium recycled more than 45.7 tons of plastic, glass, aluminum, cardboard, and paper in 2011.

The Aquarium also participates in a battery recycling program. Staff can recycle used alkaline and lithium batteries, instead of throwing them in the trash, which end up in a landfill and leak toxins into the earth and waterways. Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year. If all those batteries were simply discarded, they would fill more than 600 large school buses. In 2011, the Aquarium recycled 448 pounds of batteries, keeping toxic materials such as lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury out of landfills.

Outdated computers, printers, and other equipment are donated to CDM eCycling, which refurbishes any reusable equipment, and then donates it through its Second Life program to charities and other nonprofit organizations that otherwise could not afford this technology. In 2011, the Aquarium diverted 1,788 pounds of electronics from the landfill through eCycling.

When CDs, DVDs, and handheld devices wear out, the Aquarium works with a company called GreenDisk to recycle this "technotrash" instead of clogging landfills and contaminating soil and ground water with harmful chemicals. In 2010, the Aquarium recycled 347 pounds of technotrash.

What you can do:

Recycle everything you can: paper, cans, glass, aluminum, motor oil, scrap metal, and plastics. You might be surprised at how much can be recycled. Visit to find out what, how, and where to recycle in your area.

Look for groups that could benefit from your gently used electronics. Also, many electronics retailers will recycle your old or broken equipment for you.

Dispose motor oil and anti-freeze through a local service station or recycling center. A one-quart container of oil disposed of at the local landfill can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water.

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