Let’s Be Plastic Free

In July 2018, 151 Virginia Zoo staff members and volunteers joined together to compete against 79 other zoological organizations to see who could be the most plastic-free. Known as Plastic Free Ecochallenge, this challenge is a 31-day, global challenge in July to reduce and refuse single-use plastics. In last year’s challenge, the Virginia Zoo finished in 5th place overall with 51,278 points and even beat our rivals, the Virginia Aquarium, in a head-to-head points battle. This year, the challenge is open to the public and we are asking you to help the cause by joining the Virginia Zoo Fans Team. Alongside the staff and volunteer team, the (Non)Plastics, we are hoping to finish among the top competitors again this year and beat anyone who challenges us, which includes the Virginia Aquarium.

So why should you take on the ecochallenge? As an avid Zoo fan, you help the Zoo every time you visit. Six dollars from every membership purchase and renewal, five percent of revenue from education programs and portions of sales from zoodoptions goes to support our conservation programs. Daily admission tickets also support our mission to extend our reach on the important work we do every day and much more. Plus, our animals enjoy seeing your fresh faces just as much as you love seeing them! Our Zoo Fans constantly help us take action to save and protect our planet and its wildlife, but now we want you to initiate your own, starting with going plastic free next month.

Studies show that if you complete a task daily for 30 days it can become a habit, so make being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious part of your daily routine. Plastic Free Ecochallenge is an easy, non-committal platform to get started. Here’s how:

  1. Create a profile at plasticfree.ecochallenge.org (it’s free!)
  2. Join the Virginia Zoo Fans Team
  3. Start adding challenges – these are initiatives that you want to challenge yourselves to do for the month of July in the hopes that it will become a habit.
    • Do you want to “skip the straw”, switch to using a shampoo bar, or pick up trash in the community? There are a lot of challenges to choose from – you can pick one challenge or as many as you like.
    • Challenges are ranked by difficulty – easy, medium, and hard.
  4. When the challenge starts on July 1st, you will get points for every day you check in and every challenge you complete.
    • Each challenge has resources to help you achieve your goals!
  5. Earn additional points by completing other tasks:
    • Upload a picture or banner image to your profile
    • Post about your actions on the feed
    • Invite friends and family to join
    • Answer the reflection questions for challenges you’ve chosen
  6. View your impact – throughout the month of July, you will be able to see the impact your actions have made, as well as the Virginia Zoo’s.
  7. Hard work pays off! As a reward for participating, each week in July we will choose one active participant in the Virginia Zoo Fans Team to win Zoo swag, which could include a reusable utensil or straw, Zoo lunch bag, event tickets and more!

We hope you join the Virginia Zoo Fans team, which is available for all friends, family and fans of the Virginia Zoo who are eager to be a steward of our organization by limiting or eliminating plastic usage and reducing your carbon footprint. If you have any questions throughout the process or need help getting started, please email the Plastic Free Ecochallenge Coordinator at [email protected].