July 1 - July 31, 2020

Welcome to the Plastic Free Ecochallenge

As zoos and aquariums, we are keenly aware of the impact humans are having on wildlife every day. That’s why we are so excited to host the Plastic Free Ecochallenge with our global community! Each year, an estimated one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die from plastics in their environment. Recent research also suggests that terrestrial species are negatively affected as more microplastics make their way into their ecosystems. Through our collective effort, Plastic Free Ecochallenge gives us the ability to make a difference for these species most impacted by our plastic pollution.

This year, Plastic Free Ecochallenge presents us with an even more significant opportunity than usual to make the hard choices of creating a better future for us all.

Reducing plastic use and plastic pollution is as important as it ever was. Plastics continue to pollute our waterways, break down in our ecosystems, and harm wildlife. And contrary to popular perception, in our everyday lives, disposables are NOT more sanitary than properly sanitized reusable options. In most cases, simply laundering fabric bags, washing reusable servicewear in hot and soapy water, and cleaning household surfaces with soap and water regularly can kill Coronavirus, along with 99.9% of bacteria. (Some surfaces should be disinfected, as well.)

Preventing the spread of COVID 19 requires that we sometimes have to adapt to changing regulations and the changing availability of plastic free alternatives in order to prioritize public health and the safety of our communities and loved ones. Currently, preventing disease transmission means that people in some places and conditions might have to forgo their preference for a zero plastic life for a less plastic life instead. As uncomfortable as it is, the realities of the current pandemic force us to choose between values that are sometimes competing right now.

These are hard choices to make, but we can figure out a new way forward together. These challenges present the opportunity for creativity and innovation, and we hope you'll approach Plastic Free Ecochallenge with this same spirit of creation and adventure.

Did you know that common wisdom says it takes three weeks to change a habit? If you can stick with a new behavior for 21 days in a row, you’re a lot more likely to keep it up forever. We want you to share your progress and earn points for taking action for 31 days. The combination of collective inspiration, camaraderie and friendly competition makes change a little easier — and a lot more fun.

Explore the Challenges

For each Plastic Free action, we have worked with Ecochallenge.org to offer resources to help you learn about or achieve success in your action. Please note that the resources linked to for each action are recommendations and not endorsements from any of the institutions participating in this event.

Discover Change, Together.

We believe the solution to the planet’s biggest challenges lies in the power of collective action.

The Plastic Free July movement originated with a nonprofit group in Australia and has now been adapted for the zoo and aquarium community. Your organization, or one near you, takes incredible steps to address plastic consumption and has signed on to make positive changes by joining our Plastic Free Ecochallenge! As conservation and sustainability focused organizations, zoos and aquariums know how imperative healthy ecosystems and habitats are for future generations. Single-use plastics are a major threat to all species, including ourselves—let’s continue to tackle the problem together to see our collective impact.

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Our actions speak for a plastic-free world.

The Plastic Free Ecochallenge is powered by the Ecochallenge Platform.

The Ecochallenge Platform is a signature offering of Ecochallenge.org (formerly Northwest Earth Institute), a sustainability organization that provides innovative social and digital tools designed to be a launchpad for emerging generations and sustainability leaders to experience “ah-ha” moments that lead to extraordinary environmental and social change. Ecochallenge.org also hosts a global People's Ecochallenge every October which is free and open to everyone, everywhere. Over 100,000+ people from 139 countries have used the Ecochallenge Platform and the organization has engaged over 390,000 people throughout its 27-year history. The Ecochallenge Platform can also be used to create custom Ecochallenges that meet the engagement and action goals of your workplace, college, or community.

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