CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Tennessee Aquarium has joined 19 aquariums across the U.S., creating the new Aquarium Conservation Partnership to address plastic pollution.
The ACP announced the launch of a nationwide consumer campaign and a business commitment to drive a shift away from single-use plastic among their visitors, in their communities and beyond.
Through the national “In Our Hands” campaign, the ACP hopes to encourage their 20 million visitors to transition from single-use plastic to less-harmful alternatives. By visiting www.ourhands.org, the campaign aims to inspire visitors to make everyday changes and raise awareness of the issue.
All 19 aquariums are also shifting away from single-use plastic within their own businesses. As of today, all ACP members, including the Tennessee Aquarium, have eliminated plastic straws and single-use plastic take-away bags in their institutions. In hopes of additional plastic reduction, the aquariums have also committed to significantly reducing or eliminating plastic beverage bottles by December 2020 nad showcasing innovative alternatives to single-use plastic in their facilities.
About 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year worldwide. In the United States alone, plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person each year. If nothing changes, by 2025 the flow of plastic into the ocean is expected to double.
In addition, plastic pollution in lakes and rivers has been found at high levels than in the circular oceanic currents that concentrate plastic trash. Today, there are an estimated 1 billion plastic particles floating on the surface of Lake Michigan alone.
Residents of the Southeast will get a better picture of the magnitude of microplastics impacting the Tennessee River watershed beginning on July 27. Professor of Medical and Life Sciences Dr. Andreas Fath will embark on TenneSwim, a headwater-to-mouth water quality analysis and endurance swim of the entire 652-mile river. For more information about this scientific endeavor, visit http://tenneswim.org.
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership was first championed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, National Aquarium in Baltimore and Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Coalition partners are located in 16 states and include:
• California: Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; California Academy of Sciences/Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco; and Monterey Bay Aquarium
• Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut
• Florida: The Florida Aquarium in Tampa
• Illinois: Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
• Kentucky: Newport Aquarium in Kentucky
• Louisiana: Audubon Nature Institute/Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans
• Maryland: National Aquarium
• Massachusetts: New England Aquarium in Boston
• Nebraska: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
• New York: Wildlife Conservation Society/New York Aquarium in New York City
• North Carolina: North Carolina Aquariums
• South Carolina: South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston
• Tennessee: Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga
• Texas: Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi
• Virginia: Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach; and
• Washington: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma; and Seattle Aquarium
This summer, the aquariums will focus on raising awareness and sparking consumer action, and sharing their own success stories to highlight the many ways they’ve cut back on single-use plastic in their operations.
ACP members are working with their business partners to showcase innovative alternatives to single-use plastic products, and will collaborate with vendors to accelerate design of new products and materials. They are also finding ways to use less plastic packaging in gift store items and scaling back on single-use plastic in their cafes and restaurants.