Aquarium Conservation Partnership
Join aquariums across the country in reducing plastic waste. Disposable plastic is only in your hands for a few minutes, but it piles up forever in our ocean, rivers and lakes – and hurts your favorite aquatic animals.
There are simple actions we can take to help our aquatic friends. Here’s one: #LetsSheddPlastic and make reducing your single-use plastic usage the first step to plastic-free waters.
Join the plastic-free challenge!
Make an even bigger impact with our seven-day plastic-free challenge!
TEXT PLASTICFREE to 49767 to join
You will get daily tips (and pictures of adorable animals!) sent straight to your phone to keep you motivated on your plastic-free journey.
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The problem of plastic pollution
Today, plastic pollution is found in almost every marine habitat on Earth, including polar sea ice and the deepest ocean trenches. About 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean from sources on land each year. That’s the equivalent of a dump truck pouring a load of plastic trash into the ocean every minute, every day. Unless we do something about it, that rate is expected to double by 2025.
The concentration of plastic in lakes and rivers can be even higher than in the ocean. About 22 million pounds of plastic—much of it litter—winds up in the Great Lakes every year.
On average, every American throws away 270 pounds of plastic a year, and only about 9 percent is recycled. Straws, which cannot be recycled due to small size and plastic type, consistently show up among the top 10 items collected in beach cleanups around the world, along with beverage bottles, shopping bags, coffee lids and other single-use plastic. This debris, whole or in bits, harms fishes, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.
How you can help
Reducing single-use plastic is the first step to plastic-free waters. Skipping the straw you don’t need is a simple, but powerful, action that raises awareness about the need to reduce more kinds of single-use plastic. It sends a signal to businesses and government officials that there is public support for change.
If you prefer straws, you can opt for more sustainable, reusable alternatives such as glass, steel, or bamboo. If you already carry a reusable shopping bag and water bottle, having a reusable straw is the next step in protecting aquatic animals and their habitats. Of course, ACP strongly supports having plastic straws available and accessible to those who need them.
Let's Shedd Plastic
As we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, our collective use of disposable plastic has skyrocketed. In fact, we are on pace to see a 30% increase in waste in 2020 compared to 2019, with much of that waste being single-use plastic from carryout containers and disposable masks to packaging from the items we’re having shipped to our homes. A great deal of this plastic does not get reused or recycled but rather winds up as pollution—in our lakes, oceans and rivers. In a typical year, nearly 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes, invading the habitats of animals like lake sturgeon and piping plovers, posing risks of entanglement, choking and accidental ingestion. We are in the midst of a plastic pollution crisis and now is the time to take action.Read More , on the Let's Shedd Plastic page
In the first year of the partnership, the 22 ACP facilities kept more than 5 million plastic straws out of the environment through their own operations. In addition, with ACP support, nearly 500 businesses, including the Chicago White Sox, United Airlines and Loews Chicago hotel, now offer straws only on request, along with other plastic-reduction commitments.
Visit OurHands.org for more examples of what you can do and to support the work of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership.
What Shedd is doing
Shedd Aquarium is one of the founding members of the ACP and helped develop the strategies to combat plastic pollution. We have already eliminated many single-use plastic products, including bags and straws, in our operations and are working with vendors, our gift store and our food service to reduce plastic packaging.
Through our Reduce Plastic Pollution campaign, we are raising awareness about single-use plastics among our guests, members, online followers and the metro Chicago community to increase consumer demand for innovative alternatives—and make those alternatives available through our stores and product partnerships.
Sustainability at Shedd: Water, Energy and Waste
Sustainability has always been a focus at Shedd. Our early aquarists may not have recognized the term, but they certainly would have recognized the importance of avoiding waste, especially when they had to import their seawater all the way from the Gulf of Mexico.Read More , on the Sustainability at Shedd: Water, Energy and Waste page
About the Aquarium Conservation Partnership
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership is a collaboration of 22 public aquariums in 17 states, all committed to advancing conservation of the world’s ocean, lakes and rivers through consumer engagement, business leadership and policy changes. ACP was founded by Shedd Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and National Aquarium in Baltimore in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.