Here at Reptile Gardens, we learn a lot from our animal friends. For instance, did you know that many snake species lie absolutely motionless for long periods of time after a big meal? In large pythons it can be weeks! The snakes take a siesta, because energy is precious to cold-blooded animals, and they can conserve this energy by eliminating all unnecessary movement. We’ve taken this lesson to heart, and have organized a “”Green Team” to identify ways to eliminate waste, and conserve resources around the Gardens.
Our Green Team, led by Assistant Manger Clint Hubbeling, has come up with a number of great ideas to conserve, such as: Reusing office paper by printing on both sides of the paper. This simple idea has saved countless reams of paper. Embracing digital technology by converting our travel brochures and park information sheets to a digital .PDF document, we can respond to information requests much faster, and with zero paper usage. Implementing a recycling program for Guest and staff areas. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and establishing a collection point for recycling old bulbs. We have converted to rechargeable batteries where possible, and recycle all used batteries. These simple changes are easy to start, and add up to real results over time.
Three times weekly we haul cardboard, metal, and plastic to the recycling station rather than put it in our dumpsters. This has cut number of times a week we need our 2 dumpsters emptied from 7 to 3. That is 8 fewer dumpster loads of material going into the landfill each week.
This summer, we started replacing all our paper towel dispensers with state of the art electric hand dryers. These dyers deliver a powerful jet of warmed air that quickly dries one’s hands in as little as 10-15 seconds. While hand dryers may not seem too thrilling, consider the savings. No trees are required to be cut down, no milling or processing, no paper bleach, and no more shipping; these dryers are truly an effective and hygienic alternative to paper towels. Power usage is more than offset by the savings in paper products.
The Clint has also been busy identifying Green-seal certified cleaning products to replace some non-environmentally conscious products in use at Reptile Gardens. Our Guests will be pleased to learn that all foaming hand soap in the bathrooms is Green-seal certified, as is our floor cleaner. This means that the entire life cycle of these products has been evaluated, and proven to be environmentally conscious at every stage, from production to final disposal.
Our oldest resident, a giant tortoise named Methuselah, is even getting into the green-swing of things. Methuselah and his giant buddies prevent several hundred pounds of food waste from entering the landfill each year by gobbling up unsalable produce from local grocery stores. These fruits and vegetables are blemished and unsellable to humans, but make a nutritious addition to the tortoises diet. Methane gas, produced by the decay of organic material in a landfill, such as food waste, is a greenhouse gas that our tortoises prevent from entering the atmosphere, simply by eating lunch.
One thing is certain, Reptile Gardens is committed a greener future. We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve our sustainability efforts and there are several exciting projects on the horizon. In the future, we hope to add a solar array to our roof to generate electricity, and convert our crocodilian pond heaters to solar hot water. As our Green Team has proven, even the smallest of changes toward conservation can make a big impact. You can start a Green Team of your own, by looking around your home, and making the small changes that lead to a big impact.
Written by: Ary DonOtter