Newport Aquarium Joins National Push to Take #FirstStep to Cut Plastic Pollution

Twenty-two top aquariums across the United States – Including Newport Aquarium – have already eliminated 5 million straws in their coordinated campaign to reduce sources of plastic pollution. Now they’re upping their game by encouraging individuals, businesses and cities around the country to cut back on single-use plastic—starting with plastic straws—by Earth Day 2019.

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Take the first step by pledging to skip plastic straws. Your last straw is the #FirstStep to a plastic-free ocean. Visit: pledge.ourhands.org.

Banding together in a joint #FirstStep to plastic-free waters, the aquariums seek commitments from 500 more businesses, pledges from individuals, and policy action by municipalities, all to reduce a growing source of single-use plastic waste that harms ocean and freshwater wildlife around the world.

The campaign will kick off during #NoStrawNovember, a nationwide movement asking people who don’t need them to refuse plastic straws for 30 days.

“Cutting back on plastic straws doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s an important first step,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium Executive Director. “It gets people thinking and talking about ways they can reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items—and encourages the innovation of ocean-friendly alternatives.”First Step_reef 2

The #FirstStep campaign includes:

  • Recruiting 500 new businesses to partner with aquariums across the country by committing to offer straws only on request, for a total of 1,000 businesses committed by Earth Day 2019
  • An online pledge site (ourhands.org/) where individuals can commit to make the last straw their first step to plastic-free waters
  • Initiatives by partner aquariums to inspire cities in their regions to pass straws-on-request ordinances and other local measures to reduce single-use plastic
  • An opportunity for individuals to get tips via text message on ways to cut back on single-use plastic in their daily lives, by texting SEATURTLE to 49767

Since the 2017 launch of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), 22 partner aquariums in 17 states – located on the coasts and in the heartland – have eliminated more than 5 million straws a year, stopped using plastic shopping bags, and have committed to significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by 2020.  Nearly 500 businesses—including United Airlines, the Chicago White Sox, Dignity Health hospitals and Farmer Brothers Coffee—have made plastic-reduction commitments in collaboration with ACP aquariums.Scott ioh-shark

Municipalities in aquarium communities, and California on a statewide basis, have enacted laws either banning single-use plastic from many foodservice operations or requiring businesses to offer plastic straws only when customers request them. ACP partner aquariums are supporting these efforts in a variety of ways.

“There’s new scientific evidence, almost on a weekly basis, about the ways that plastic pollution is harming marine and aquatic wildlife,” said Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “I find it so encouraging that people are responding quickly to the threat—by changing their habits, and asking businesses and governments to step up and take action.”

“The health of our lakes and rivers is important not only to the wildlife that live there – they are a recreation and economic resource for us all,” said Bridget Coughlin, president and CEO of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. “Beyond inspiring the public to take action, it’s our duty to empower businesses and community leaders to raise the issue of plastic pollution taking place in both freshwater and marine habitats, lead by example and make long-lasting, impactful change.”

“A sea change is underway, and people want to do their part to ensure the future of our ocean planet,” said National Aquarium President and Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli. “All 22 of the aquariums that make up the ACP are committed to reducing single-use plastics, and it is now our hope to inspire and serve as a model for other organizations and companies as well as individuals. The reality is that if everyone does their part, we can make a meaningful impact.”

ACP’s initiative has already expanded globally. Its work sparked the European Commission and United Nations Environment Program – with support from five international partners, including ACP – to announce a commitment by European Union Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella at the 5th international “Our Ocean” conference October 29-30 in Bali, Indonesia to coordinate a global coalition of 200 aquariums by 2019 to raise public awareness about plastic pollution.FirstStep_text_penguins

For more information about the #FirstStep campaign or to take the pledge, please visit pledge.ourhands.org/.

 

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About the Aquarium Conservation Partnership

The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is a collaboration of 22 U.S. 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 in Chicago, Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and National Aquarium in Baltimore, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. More information at pledge.ourhands.org/.

International Plastic Bag Free Day 2017

July 3rd marks International Plastic Bag Free Day. Today signifies the ability for the world to come together and create an environment that is plastic free and educating individuals about current alternatives to plastics and other wastes.

Sea Turtle and Plastic Bag

Did you know? About 80% of marine litter is plastic. This constant influx of litter and waste on a marine environment can have negative effects for the animals living there.

Today of all days, it is important to realize that anyone can help to make a difference in the environment. We hope the tips below will help you on your way to being a true advocate for marine wildlife preservation.

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Last year, Wave Foundation volunteers collected 95 bags of trash plus tires, and more along the Ohio River bank during Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) #RiverSweep

5 Ways to be a Marine Wildlife Advocate

  1. Make the Switch Away from Plastics
    • Small things like buying fresh and local products that avoid individual packaging and bulk packaging can be extremely beneficial. Bring your own cloth reusable bag to any store you shop at to avoid using plastic bags. Invest in a reusable water bottle, and help lower the amount of plastic bottles that end up in our oceans!  Shark Bridge swag
  2. Get Out There and Join in the Collective Effort
  3. Respect Marine Life
    • One of the best ways to gain a greater appreciation of wildlife and wildlife preservation is through education. Newport Aquarium is not only an exciting day of adventure but can also teach you a lot about different animal species and what the scientific community is doing to protect some of those species.
  4. Contact Local Officials
    • If you see an issue with a local body of water, say something. Remember your voice is important in making change in the world. Even if it is just a polluted creek, you never know where that debris could end up or what kind of wildlife could be affected.
  5. Spread the Word
    • Now that you know a little bit more about what you can do to make a difference, tell someone else. Reach out to family. Invite friends to join you in the next river sweep. Each person that is informed and that gets involved brings the world one step closer to creating a safer environment for our beloved aquatic animals.

 

North Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch

Trash islands in North Pacific Gyre. Photo Credit: Mario Aguilera / Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Around 1 million plastic bags are in use around the world every minute. On average, each of those bags will only be used for about 25 minutes. Once those plastics end out in nature it will take 100-500 years to disintegrate depending on the plastic.

 

 

 

 

To learn more visit: Newport Aquarium and WAVE Foundation

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444

Help Protect the Earth on Earth Day and Every Day

As we get ready to celebrate Earth Day, here are some things you can do to help protect the Earth. The National Ocean Service put together this list 0f 10 choices you can make for a healthier planet.Earth Day NOAA

Living with less plastic
Reduce the amount of reusable plastic in the world. According to a recent report, by the year 2050, there will be more plastics in our ocean than fish. Small changes over time add up to a big difference, especially when using plastic.Less Plastic

Protecting endangered animals
When guests visit Newport Aquarium, not only do they get to see amazing animals, but they also get to learn about how to help those animals and their environment. Newport Aquarium and other AZA accredited zoo and aquariums work to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals in their facilities.

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Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Newport Aquarium is a part of a sea turtle rehabilitation program, to rescue and release baby sea turtles back in to the wild.

Aquariums allow for people to see and interact with animals that they never would get the chance to normally. Aquariums also give a chance of a close and personal interaction with animals that can allow for guests to develop a special connection and help develop a passion to protect the animals and their environment.

Importance of Water
Newport Aquarium hopes to educate people about the importance of water and about the everyday things they can do to help protect our oceans, planet, and animals. A “Water Story” sign welcomes guests to exhibits. Guests can discover diverse ecosystems, the source of our planet’s water and threats to the world’s water as they visit.

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The World Rivers exhibit allows for guest to learn about a highest density and diversity of nine different rivers from five different continents.

Newport Aquarium also strives to improve water quality and conservation efforts to help the aquatic life in both ocean and fresh water environments all over the planet. Learn more in our World Water Day post.

Learn to love sea life
Through education; you will grow to appreciate ocean and marine life and take a more caring and careful approach to all things oceanic. A great way to do this is to visit local aquariums and AZA institutions, like Newport Aquarium.

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Overhead view of the Coral Reef, guests can see on a behind-the-scenes tour at Newport Aquarium.

Reduce plastic
Stop one time plastic. Plastic bottles, straws and containers are dangerous for the environment. Try to use reusable products as much as you can. Whether it is water bottles, tuber wear containers, or reusable straws, using these items help cut down on the use on one time plastics. This in return, can reduce the amount of harmful plastic found in wildlife.

Always recycle
Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. Try to make full use of the recycling depots in your local area.

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Volunteer and Donate
Volunteer to clean up local rivers and beach areas. Join thousands of volunteers at this year’s ORSANCO River Sweep, and clean up the Ohio River, its tributaries and riverbanks on June 17, 2017.  Volunteer with the WAVE Foundation  to excite, engage and educate our community about the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation.

Most of us want to make a difference and do something good for the planet. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect and see what we can do to protect our planet.

 

“Let’s Do It” on Earth Day!

By: Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium

It’s that time of the year; spring is here! And we’re celebrating Earth Day 2016!

This is the time of the year where everyone wants to make a difference and do something good for the planet. It’s just like the New Year’s Resolution: we say we’re going to exercise, we’re going to lose weight – hopefully you’re still on track with your goals, that’s great!
IMG_1814Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water. Our oceans hold up to 97% of all of this water! If we’re doing the math correctly here, that means Earth Day is mostly about the water!

 

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So when we plant a tree or recycle our cereal box, we’re saving the oceans and rivers. Plant a Tree and Save a Fish!

Today, I want everyone to make another resolution and take the “Let’s do it Recycle Paper Pledge.” Did you know, according to the US EPA, paper and paperboard products make up the largest portion of solid waste sent to a landfill?Lets-Do-It-Recycle-Logo

We should be recycling paper – it’s easy and simple. We can all be a part of something big even in our region by recycling at home and at the office. In the Greater Cincinnati Area, the Green Umbrella Waste Reduction Action Team has set a goal to reduce the paper waste in landfills by 30% by the year 2020. Reducing paper waste in landfills reduces the greenhouse gas emissions, conserves natural resources and saves landfill space.

I think everyone can take a few seconds and take the pledge – I have!  I also want everyone to tag Newport Aquarium through Facebook and Twitter, showing us how you are doing something special for Earth Day 2016!

Find us on Twitter:
@NewportAquarium
@RicUrbanNAQ

#LetsDoItRecycle! @LetsDoItRecycle

Newport Aquarium is a member of Green Umbrella in Cincinnati. It is a nonprofit organization that works through volunteers to maximize environmental sustainability through member organizations and individuals.