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Reducing our carbon footprint

During a pandemic, it may seem difficult to focus on how to be sustainable. Between masks, gloves and all things disinfection, there is a lot of trash to be made that is not reusable or easily recyclable. Zoo Atlanta also is grappling with how to be sustainable in a time of a COVID-19 pandemic. Could this be the best time to consider reduction as a strategy to being greener? As a result of the pandemic, the Zoo has implemented some new operational initiatives that are driving the Zoo toward a greener footprint. These new initiatives, implemented as a result of the pandemic, are potentially long-term strategies that the Zoo may retain long after the pandemic is over to help sustain our reduction in ecological footprint.

In order to continue to provide programs to youth, Zoo Atlanta has developed a new line of virtual programming for youth, families and schools which will have long-term effects on our carbon footprint. These programs harness technology to not only engage individuals from a distance, but also to allow us to give them one-of-a-kind experiences that would be impossible if they were at the Zoo in some cases. From going being the scenes of the Zoo, to visiting animal care facilities, to meeting our Zoo animal care specialists, these programs are reaching out at a time in which visiting the Zoo may be impossible for some. These virtual experiences reduce our carbon emissions from driving, as well as reduce those emissions for families that are participating from their homes.

In addition, we are reducing our carbon footprint as a workforce. If you were to visit the Zoo today you would see many of our teammates out and about at the Zoo, caring for the animals as well as providing a safe and rich experience for our guests. What you would not see is the many of our teammates who are not physically at the Zoo. In alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, we are encouraging our teams, when they can, to work remotely. This allows our teammates to socially distance, as well as allows the Zoo to reduce the commute for them as individuals but also reduce the carbon emissions from their commute.

I bet if you think about it, you too could come up with some things you are doing now, as a result of the pandemic, that reduce your impact on the environment. Do you drive less? Go out to eat less? Shop local? Whatever you are doing, consider doing them long-term? Lifestyle changes are hard to make, but what better a time to consider these than when you have already mastered how to live without them?

Michelle Kolar
Vice President of Education

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