Small Steps to Big Change: How SSA is Working to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic in Cultural Attractions

There’s a well-known parable on the power of small actions about a boy throwing individual starfish back into the ocean. As the story goes, an old man questions the boy’s efforts saying he’ll never be able to save all of the starfish given the sheer length of the beach and amount of fish. The boy continues his work, throws another starfish back in the ocean, and replies to the man, “I made a difference for that one.”

It’s estimated that about nine million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. That’s about a garbage truck full of plastic every minute. Thinking about the enormity of the task of trying to rectify this problem can feel overwhelming. But like the boy with a single starfish, SSA has set our sights on making a difference around single-use plastic where we can, one measure at a time. Here’s how we’re doing it.

A little goes a long way

One of our more recent efforts with our partner Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA), involved transforming their gift shop to be 100% single-use plastic packaging free. This wasn’t an overnight achievement and our work together took several years but by identifying what items had single-use plastic wrapped around them, we started strategizing about how to replace those items.

We did this in small efforts, focusing on one product at a time and asked our vendors to find ways to eliminate single-use plastic in their packaging and in their range of products. From removing shrink wrap in puzzles to changing the eyeballs in stuffed animals from plastic to sewn-on, these small measures eventually turned into big results.

Today, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s gift shop is officially 100% single-use plastic packaging free. And we’re not stopping there. Here are some additional steps we’ve taken to remove single-use plastic and decrease our carbon footprint at other partner cultural attractions across the country.

  1. Start the conversation: SSA met both internally and with our retail partners to brainstorm ways we could cut back on our single-use plastic over time. From getting creative with packaging and shipping materials to delivering a bag-free retail environment, we got to work on little ways to make big changes.
  2. Expanding our eco-friendly product lines: We also worked with our eco-friendly vendor, Wild Republic, to create a powerful long-term solution around cutting down on our carbon footprint. With our partnership, we created products such as stuffed animals made from 100 percent post-consumer PET bottles as well as having our manufacturer remove all single-use plastic packaging from these product lines.
  3. Cheers to long-term souvenirs: SSA partnered with Ball Cup to make limited-edition aluminum souvenir cups instead of giving out plastic water bottles at our attractions. The benefit is two-fold, it’s good for the environment and our customers can take them home and use them for a lifetime!
  4. Watch what you eat: We continue to find other opportunities to be more sustainable in our restaurants and retail spaces such as plastic water bottle alternatives like boxed or canned water, compostable or wash ware dining cutlery, and biodegradable hang tags instead of plastic.
Making sustainability a priority
We believe in the long game. In the power of small actions to create long-term success for our communities and our world. Read more about our and our partner’s commitment to sustainability and how attractions around the country can do the same here.
On Key

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