Washington Park Zoo's Green Team Program

The mission of the Green Team is to pursue the efficient and sustainable use of resources utilized in the operation of the Zoo while educating the staff and public on the importance of conservation.

Our goal is to follow the three R’s:

  • Reduce your use of electricity, water, gas and more.
  • Re-use items as much as possible and buy re-usable items instead of disposable items.
  • Recycle as much as possible and buy items that are recyclable or have been made from recycled materials.

We challenge everyone to reduce their resource consumption as well.

Washington Park Zoo’s Green Program

Here is a list of some of the things the Washington Park Zoo is doing to our conserve resources.  Look through it and see if there are ideas that you can use in your home or office.

Washington Park Zoo RecycleAnimal Care

  • Re-use fruit cups, margarine containers, etc when preparing food in the Animal Commissary.
  • Re-use items for enrichment such as tires, phone books, newspaper, burlap, cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, empty coffee containers, etc.
  • Use commercial recycled paper bedding, shredded office mail and used newspapers for small animal bedding


  • Use washable towels when able, instead of paper towels for cleaning, drying hands, dishes, etc.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry
  • Use re-useable vinyl table clothes when able
  • Be water conscious when cleaning
  • Prudent use of cleaning supplies
  • Most public trash cans are bagless
  • We hand out straws a lids to the public


  • Use low-wattage compact fluorescent bulb.
  • Shutting lights off when out of the room
  • Turn off computer at the end of the day
  • Use energy saving settings to set computer to “sleep” during the day when not in use or turn off monitor when away from desk
  • Include skylights in new exhibits to save on the need to use artificial light
  • When can be done safely and sufficiently we are using natural sun light during the day to illuminate the inside the buildings and discontinue the use of electricity.


  • Trash-to-treasure: use other city department’s unwanted items
  • Request items on our WISH LIST from the public and local business to put to use in the zoo
  • Use drought tolerant and native plants in flower beds and in exhibits to save on the need to water
  • Transfer all pools and ponds into no leaking and self sufficient in water clarification with the use of filters and plants.
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.
  • Sell or give away unwanted equipment instead of sending to dump
  • Buy or receive used products (used vehicles, office equipment, building materials, etc.)
  • Use Rewritable - DVD’s
  • Proper battery disposal
  • Educate the public, staff and volunteers through publications, education programs, signage, keeper chats, animal encounters, website, TV, interaction between public and staff/volunteers, and more.

Heating and Cooling

  • Keep doors and windows closed while heating or cooling
  • In buildings without animals, turn down the thermostat at night in winter and up in summer.
  • Use windows, doors and fans for cooling during warm days.

Office Supplies

  • Cut used paper into squares for note paper
  • Re-use envelopes for in-house communication, deposits, etc.
  • Use used paper for printing draft documents and copying for in-house documents
  • Print and copy double-sided as much as possible
  • Use e-mails for memos and other in-house communication as much as possible
  • Use a central bulletin board instead of multiple memos
  • Use e-mail and website for communication with other zoos and organizations
  • Recycle ink cartridges
  • Re-use manila folders and filing folders by using new labels.
  • Purchase office supplies that contain recycled fiber as much as possible physically and economically
  • Purchase office supplies that are printed with soy ink when possible physically and economically
  • Store data and documents electronically instead of printing
  • Brochures are designed for minimum waste (ex. - new zoo brochure is one two-sided panel, outreach brochure includes registration form that can be mailed without an envelope, etc.)
  • Rubber bands from commissary vegetables saved for zoo staff office supplies.


  • Recycle office paper and mixed paper (paperboard, envelopes, books, etc.)
  • Recycle plastic bottles/containers
  • Recycle tin and aluminum cans
  • Recycle corrugated cardboard
  • Reuse/Recycle Zoo maps and Visitors are not automatically given a map. They can ask for one at the front gate but we have also installed general map locations through out the zoo.


  • Staff job descriptions have a paragraph encouraging conservation of zoo's and earth's resources.
  • Staff/Volunteer orientation, training and manual includes zoo’s mission statement and conservation message.
  • Intern and Volunteer manuals are on disk and a printed version is only available by special request.

Visitor Services

  • Minimum use of non-biodegradable food-service items.
  • Minimum packaging
  • No disposable straws, lids, plastic forks, knives; spoons are given out.
  • All vendors have been asked to keep all packaging to a minimum and message to that effect is incorporated into our purchase order forms.