2/20/2013 6:17:01 AM

Wednesday Shout-Outs {Arctic Friendly Event}

This week's Wednesday Shout-Out is all about one group who we thought deserved an extra high-five. The Arctic Action Team at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosted their first (and second and third...) Arctic Friendly Event. This guest post from Barbara Revard, Director of Program Planning at the zoo, tells the tale.

On February 2, 2013, the Arctic Action Team at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosted the Chilly Open, a Central Ohio fundraising event organized and run by the Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club. Over its history this event has raised nearly $2 million for local children's charities. This year the Green Team from Rotary approached zoo staff and asked for assistance in making their event more sustainable.

With over 30 area restaurants donating food and more than 2,500 people in attendance and only three weeks to plan a green effort, this was a challenge we couldn't back away from!

Volunteers ranging from Rotarians to exchange students manned the compost stations to assist guests in placing their items in the correct bin - compost, recycling, or trash.

At the end of the day nearly half a ton of food scraps and compostable tableware was sent to Price Farms Organics, where it will, over time, become compost with a zoo influence! Every ton of material the zoo sends to the compost facility costs $32 less than the tipping fee at the landfill.

At the Chilly Open:

• 980 pounds of mixed food scraps and compostable tableware were collected and kept from the landfill

• The zoo carefully tracked its carbon footprint

• The event was carbon negative (due to the composting activity end use) and, in fact, resulted in a net CO2 reduction of 500 pounds!

• Cardboard, glass, and plastic beverage bottles were also recycled

• The large event space was covered with tents which were heated with propane rather than electric heat

• Ticket purchases and most communications were conducted electronically

Most important, this effort energized the Rotary in their efforts to greatly reduce the environmental effects of all their activities, and raised awareness for zoo staff and guests alike, that even little steps have an important environmental value.

Since the Chilly Open, the Zoo has hosted three events, which we tagged as "Arctic Friendly Events" because the guests composted their food scraps and tableware. The goals are to compost at every in-house event and meeting this year and then incorporate a zero waste ethic into all events held on zoo property in the future.

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