The Zoo That Could Conserve

Thinking globally.
Acting endlessly.
Who would?
Our Detroit Zoo.
Because it knew that it should, so it could.

  • Learn More

    Detroit Zoo - Watter Bottle Phase-out

    Water Bottles

    The Detroit Zoo’s nearly 1.7 million visitors have been weaned off the bottle! In August 2013, the Zoo launched an initiative to discontinue the sale of bottled water; the phase-out was complete in the fall of 2015. Bottled water was the No. 1 seller at Detroit Zoo concessions, which generated nearly a quarter million dollars in annual sales, but it is also the single largest contributor to plastic waste in the U.S. Visitors may purchase inexpensive reusable water bottles at Zoo concession stands – or they are welcome to bring their own – which can be refilled for free at one of 20 filtered-water stations throughout the Zoo grounds. This decision is keeping 60,000 plastic bottles out of the waste stream annually.


    Anaerobic Digester

    Get a whiff of this! We were the first zoo to build a waste-to-energy anaerobic digester that will convert more than 500 tons of animal manure and organic food waste annually into a methane-rich biogas. It will help power the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex, saving the DZS $110-120,000 a year in energy costs. The system will also convert manure into compost that will be used to fertilize animal habitats, gardens and public spaces throughout the 125-acre Zoo. It’s a dung deal!

    A graphic of a light-bulb with a tree inside, instead of a filament

    Renewable Electricity

    The Detroit Zoo’s electricity usage is 100% offset by donated Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). This is another major step on our Green Journey that has distinguished us as the greenest zoo in America. Electricity generated from renewable sources results in less environmental waste and pollution and displaces other non-renewable sources from the electric grid. It also serves to build the market for renewable energy, which currently accounts for less than 10 percent of total electricity generated nationwide.

    Learn more about our sustainability initiatives

  • What Can You Do?

    Consider a reusable bottle to help decrease unnecessary plastic pollution.

    • One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every year from plastic in our oceans.
    • U.S. consumers go through 1,500 bottles of water every second, of which only 300 will get recycled.
    • 25% oil plus three full bottles of water go into producing 1 plastic bottle.

    Consider lowering the temperature in your home.

    • Lowering your thermostat by just 1 degree saves $44-73 a year on your power bill– 41% of your energy usage goes to heat your home.

    Plant a tree.

    • A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen – enough to support two people.

    Consider carpooling.

    • Driving an average of 1,000 miles a month produces about 120 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

    Check air pressure regularly.

    • If all the cars on U.S. roads had properly inflated tires, it would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

    Activate sleep mode on your computer when not in use.

    • Activating sleep mode on your computer can prevent roughly 300 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

    Compost your food scraps and help to reduce greenhouse gas.

    • Each year, 21.5 million tons of food waste is being sent to landfills instead of being composted, creating more greenhouse gas emissions than two million cars on the road.

    Recycle your used electronics (e-waste) responsibly to keep toxic chemicals out of landfills and potentially out of groundwater.

    • More than 85% of all e-waste goes unrecycled, while 3 million tons enter the waste stream.

    Consider a reusable coffee mug.

    • A single polystyrene (Styrofoam) cup contains one billion molecules of CFCs – that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.