Action to protect our ocean planet comes in many forms. We're now purchasing electricity from solar and wind sources. We're changing other business practices to leave a lighter footprint, and inspiring our guests to do the same.
We championed the effort that led Monterey County to become the third independently certified "Green Destination" in the United States.
At our private evening events, we've eliminated most single-use products and created menus featuring sustainable local ingredients and plant-based dishes. By hosting events at the Aquarium, our corporate and conference clients can advance their own sustainability commitments.
We're fortunate to have a retail and culinary partner, SSA, that embraces our values and spreads them to its clients nationwide. SSA has influenced national vendors to remove single-use plastic packaging from items sold here and at other partner institutions.
Our culinary team is inspiring local businesses and other zoos and aquariums to shift from single-use plastic water bottles to aluminum containers.
Our produce and seafood vendors switched to reusable plastic totes rather than hard-to-recycle waxed cardboard boxes, eliminating more than 100,000 pounds of waste. For evening events, the vendor who supplies our table linens bundles them in reusable totes instead of wrapping them individually in plastic.
To encourage low-carbon commutes, we provide staff with free bus passes, subsidized vanpools and bike loans, and encourage carpools and ridesharing. In 2018, nearly 40 percent of our staff participated but, we have much larger ambitions for climate action: we've made a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.
A Bigger Tent for Ocean Conservation
FOR CLAUDIA PINEDA TIBBS, environmental advocacy starts with putting one foot in front of the other. But that's just the beginning.
Claudia walks her two-mile commute to work as the Aquarium's conservation and science planning and operations manager — one way to reduce her carbon footprint. She's also committed to reducing or eliminating plastic in her daily life and promotes sustainability on her social media accounts.
"I live and breathe sustainability as much as I can, every day," she says.
Claudia's small steps are translating into big strides for the Aquarium. She encouraged our restaurant operations to use more plant-based ingredients. And for more than a decade, in her former role as an education specialist, Claudia engaged Spanish speakers in conversations about sustainable practices. (Her parents grew up in El Salvador.)
"I use my bilingualism to help communicate the Aquarium's mission and messaging," Claudia says. "Based on my own passion and background, I teach people to 'eat cooler' on the menu, in ways that don't contribute as much to climate change. I also use film and video to ensure the message gets out broadly. I want to be sure we don't limit our audience because of the medium, or the language."
For Claudia, sustainability isn't just professional — it's personal. "We need to go back to simpler ways," she says. "This means bringing your own bag when you go shopping, reusing containers, and ensuring that you're not adding significantly to the waste stream. It's about being mindful when purchasing new products and using what we have. Our grandparents and parents were on to something."