Party for the Planet, presented by Xcel Energy, is just the start of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory’s campaign to improve the environment
Can what you pack for lunch every day help save the polar bears?
“Absolutely,” says Steph Kappel, Como’s Conservation Engagement Coordinator, a new role created to connect the dots between Como’s plants and animals and sustainable practices that support wild habitats. “Unnecessary packaging, throw-away plastics and wasted food can all add to our carbon footprint and contribute to problems in the environment.”
That’s just one of the tips visitors can take away from Party for the Planet, a three-day Earth Day celebration April 22 through 24, presented by Xcel Energy. Throughout the free, family-friendly weekend, visitors are invited to learn about everything from composting to upcycling at a series of activity stations across campus. Our sponsorship partners at Xcel Energy will also be on hand to explore how reducing energy consumption at home can improve the wild habitats around the world.
“Protecting the environment so that creatures like polar bears can thrive in the wild is important to Xcel Energy,” says Caroline Mehlhop, Como Friends’ director of sponsorships and events. “Their partnership helps to provide great conservation weekends like this for our visitors, while also showcasing the value of making simple choices at home that can have a big impact around the world. If just one in four of Como’s two million annual visitors replaced a standard incandescent bulb with an LED, it would cut our community’s carbon emissions by 2 billion pounds every year.”
Polar Bear Power Tips
- Turn off lights when they’re not in use and unplug “vampire” power cords that can drain energy even when they’re not charging a device.
- Keep your car tires properly inflated to improve gas mileage.
- Take advantage of the warm, sunny weather by allowing your clothes to dry on the line.
- Buy into a community solar garden or wind energy supplier to cut your carbon footprint with sustainable energy solutions.
- Buy local goods and produce to cut down on fossil fuel consumption.
- When you visit Como this summer, cut down on car idling and parking time by hopping the Como Shuttle near the State Fair grounds.
Responsible energy use, such as turning off unused lights and turning down the thermostat, are just the first steps Como visitors can take to curb their carbon footprint for Earth Day.
“Families and schools see zoos as important sources of information about the environment,” says Kappel. “One of the best things Como can do is engage animal lovers when they’re young, and show them that using resources wisely really can have a positive impact on the environment. We are seeing an interesting generational shift as well. Sustainable practices are second-nature to so many young adults. The future leaders of our communities are change agents that look to innovation and collaboration to solve environmental issues. Our role is to work with young people to engage in effectively implementing sustainable practices within communities.”
This spring, Como is getting set to launch a Youth Engagement Program (YEP), a new teen leadership program designed to give teams of high school youth the training and support to launch collaborative conservation projects in their own community. Funded by the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment and through contributions to Como Friends, the new program is currently accepting applications from youth volunteers interested in taking part in this next generation conservation effort. Click for more information.