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Shedd Aquarium Offers Opportunities to be Part of the Solution During Plastic Free July

Join collective action for cleaner habitats for people and wildlife

July 03, 2023

A dark brown sea lion caries a green bottle to a blue recycling bin on a wooden walkway.

Shedd Aquarium invites the public to join in celebrating the month-long national campaign, “Plastic Free July” by participating in activities to help curb plastic pollution. From volunteering to clean local beaches to advocacy opportunities, the aquarium is encouraging ways to reduce the harm of plastic on the health of the environment, animals and people. Working together can help spark compassion, curiosity and conversation for the animal aquatic world.

Plastic pollution has become an increasing issue that threatens the health of wildlife who can become entangled in it or consume it, the quality of habitat for animals and greenspaces that people connect to, drinking water people depend on and more. In fact, 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes every year. This year, international conservation nonprofit Mission Blue named the Great Lakes the first and only freshwater Hope Spot – special places across the globe, championed by Shedd Aquarium with support from over 24 Great Lakes organizations across the region, that are scientifically recognized as critical to the health of the ocean. Shedd is making a difference through reducing its plastic footprint, advocating for policy changes, supporting local restaurants with plastic reduction efforts and leading volunteers with coastal cleanups around Chicago. But the aquarium cannot do it alone, and collective action is critical to tackling plastic pollution.

Below are a series of events, activities and volunteer opportunities to join us and be part of the solution in July and beyond.

Volunteer for Litter Cleanup and Habitat Restoration
Throughout the month, join the aquarium through volunteer efforts to protect and improve local beaches and waterways. This work helps support wildlife that calls these area home like birds and fish while learning along the way. Volunteers who are interested in enhancing their curiosity for the aquatic world and making a difference can sign-up here. Community action day locations and dates below.

Ping Tom Memorial Park

  • Saturday, July 8, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

63rd St. Beach

  • Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Calumet Park Beach

  • Saturday, July 29, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

12th St. Beach

  • Wednesday, July 5, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Receive Action Alerts to Raise Your Voice
Through Shedd’s Surge platform, timely action alerts are sent to subscribers via email to share opportunities to act for our shared blue planet. By subscribing, join a network that is advocating for wildlife, the Great Lakes region and beyond. Surge allows subscribers to make their voices heard and share relevant conservation information with those around them. Learn more here about Surge and what it has to offer.

Support Local Businesses Making a Difference
Whether it’s grabbing a meal or giving them a shout-out, support the Let’s Shedd Plastic restaurant partners making a difference by reducing their use of plastic. This collaborative program with restaurants helps to reduce single-use plastics in operations, provide learning opportunities for staff and patrons, and collectively advocate for more sustainable policies and systems. Find a full list of partners here.

Paddle with a Purpose
This summer, join for a paddle of the Chicago River guided by a Shedd nature expert during a Kayak for Conservation. These eco kayak tours offer the opportunity to look nature in the eye and learn about innovative efforts to improve the health of the Chicago River for wildlife —all while taking in the beauty of the city. Take it a step further this July by participating in the optional litter clean up!

Pledge to Refuse Single-Use
Disposable plasticware like cups, utensils and bags can be found everywhere, but taking the small step to opt for reusables can make a big impact. Take it a step further to share the commitment with others to amplify the effort and encourage others to join in.

VISUALS: Relevant photos are available for download: credit: ©Shedd Aquarium