The Minnesota Zoo is working to reduce waste, energy consumption, and water consumption.
Ways we have reduced waste:
- The Zoo’s quarterly magazine, Zootracks, is now published online, saving over 2.5 million sheets of paper annually.
- Our Membership Office is reducing paper usage by sending more mail electronically and encouraging online membership purchases. Membership has also switched to reusable “eco-envelopes” to reduce paper consumption.
- Hand dryers have been installed in most Zoo bathrooms to reduce paper towel waste.
- Zoo staff have been provided with reusable coffee thermoses to reduce paper cup waste.
- Lancer Food Service, the Zoo’s food vendor, has reduced waste by discontinuing small packaging extras such as ketchup, sugar packets, salt, and pepper and replacing them with bulk pours.
- Service Systems Associates (SSA), which runs the Minnesota Zoo’s gift shops, is working with vendors on their packaging choices to eliminate waste as much as possible. They provide vendors with suggestions on condensing orders for shipment and using eco-friendly packaging products.
- In an effort to reduce plastic bag consumption, SSA recently introduced a reusable merchandise bag in Minnesota Zoo gift shops that is made from recycled plastic. Purchases of this bag benefit education of Masaai children in Kenya.
Ways we have reduced energy consumption:
- Our Operations Department has installed high efficiency boilers and chillers, premium efficient motors, and high efficiency lighting.
- By installing energy efficient lighting and motion sensors on lights, we have conserved enough energy per year to power 103 average US households.
- We have saved energy and reduced fuel and air emissions by upgrading to computer-controlled heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, by replacing inefficient equipment, by using outside air for “free cooling”, and by using active and passive heat recovery systems.
- The Wells Fargo Family Farm uses draft horses instead of fuel-consuming machinery to plow/work up the crop field. It also uses draft horses instead of a diesel tractor to give wagon rides to zoo visitors.
- Lancer Food Service, the food vendor for the Minnesota Zoo, obtains meats, fruits and vegetables from local farmers and producers whenever possible, reducing the energy needed to transport food to the Zoo.
Ways we have reduced water consumption:
- The Zoo uses native plants in natural landscaping throughout the Minnesota Trail. Native plants require less water.
- Drip irrigation is used throughout the Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit to reduce the loss of water due to over-spray and transpiration.
- The Coral Reef, Dolpin, and Shark Reef exhibits have back wash recovery systems to recover salt water from back wash cycles and reduce water consumption.
- We have saved water by installing automatic water-level controls at animal exhibit pools.
- The Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit has incorporated bio-swales – landscape elements that remove silt and pollution from runoff water before the water passes to the sewer.
- Hand sensors have been installed at sinks and water closets to prevent water wasting.
- The Zoo has reduced pesticide usage. The Horticulture Department controls all insect pests in the Tropics Building through the use of beneficial insects and bio-controls, and the Wells Fargo Family Farm uses hand weeding to replace pesticides.
- In accordance with Minnesota state laws, the Zoo has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels. Biodiesel fuel is used in all State of Minnesota on and off-road diesel engines. Also, all new vehicle purchases must be equipped to use Flex-Fuel, which is approximately 85% ethanol (E-85). The Zoo purchased seven such vehicles in 2007.