Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Zoo No Longer Sells Bottled Water

Photo by the Detroit Zoological Society

Royal Oak — Visitors to the Detroit Zoo have one less option if they get thirsty walking the grounds.

The zoo no longer sells bottled water, part of a multi-year effort to make changes that are environmentally friendly.

It’s an effort other zoos are watching closely, said Rob Vernon, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He said he believes Detroit is the first zoo in the nation to stop selling water in plastic bottles.

Instead of 20-ounce Aquafina bottles the zoo sold for $3.99, visitors will have to bring their own containers and can fill them up at filtered water stations. Or they can buy reusable green-and-white bottles with the zoo logo at $2.59 each.

The switch has had an effect on the zoo’s bottom line. The sale of Aquafina bottled waters brought in about $250,000 a year, which breaks down to 62,500 water bottles.

So far, only about 15,000 of the reusable water bottles have been sold in the two years since the phase-out of bottled water began. Their lower price point is designed to entice buyers.

But the switch was never about money, said Patricia Janeway, director of communications for the Detroit Zoological Society, which runs the zoo. It was about the environment. Taking 60,000-plus water bottles — many that would be thrown away, rather than recycled, and some that would end up as litter — out of circulation each year is a matter of the zoo being a good citizen.

Water bottles were phased out on Sept. 18, a year ahead of schedule.

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