The Garden City Telegram
7/3/2014
SOUTHWEST LIFE

Waste is a waste of resources

The Safari Shoppe produces waste. It's a fact. Local trash cans provide a home to abandoned paper cups, plastic ice cream dishes, single-use flatware and more.

In an effort to reduce the size of our carbon footprint on the planet, we are making a green transition in the way we vend at the Safari Shoppe. The change won't happen instantly. Our goal is to operate on sustainable disposables. Friends currently have a bulk stash of virgin plastic, paper and styrofoam goods at the Safari Shoppe, but as those are used up, they will be replaced with eco-friendly substitutes.

To help reduce the number of paper cups that go out into the zoo, the Safari Shoppe now has new souvenir cups. The cups are offered in 12-ounce or 32-ounce sizes. Guests receive free refills all day with the purchase of their cup, and are only charged $1 per refill after the purchase day. To make life easy, we made sure that the cups are dishwasher safe — top shelf only please.

If you have bought a dish of Dippin' Dots lately, you may have noticed that you were given a bright green spoon to accompany your ice cream. This spoon is made from 100 percent renewable resources made with PLA, a plant-based plastic, rather than an oil-based plastic. Given the ice cream cup is still made from oil-based plastic, we decided it's time to offer recycling opportunities in the concession area of the zoo as well.

A new recycling station has been ordered, created from recycled materials. Constructed from 1,410 milk jugs, the unit will have slots for No. 1 and 2 plastics, glass, aluminum cans and zoo maps or paper. The recycling unit will sit outside of the Safari Shoppe in the entrance courtyard and is part of a recent entrance enhancement project. The recycling unit will be accompanied by matching flower planters — made from the same materials — which will be filled with our special zoo compost and lush foliage.

The entrance enhancement project is being funded with help from Garden City, The Finnup Foundation Trust, The Garden City Company and Western Kansas Community Foundation. The project also includes the addition of an electric message board to replace the current Safari Shoppe sign located next to the Ben Grimsley Arches.

Equivalent to an outdoor television, the electric sign will offer a new educational opportunity to promote events in Fredrick Finnup Park while also promoting the zoo's new visitor amenities, such as the Safari Cycles, the Richardson Railroad and the Red Line Trolley. The message board will scroll with animal photographs, animal footage and feature menu items offered in the Safari Shoppe. A speaker bar will be an added bonus on the message board to offer music in the entrance area.

The funding will also bring in shade for those picnicking in the courtyard entrance. It may be because I was raised on a spoonful of sugar, but I've always been a fanatic for umbrellas. Bright yellow square umbrellas are now in-transit and are guaranteed to make dining in the courtyard more fun when shaded from direct sun. Picnic tables have been provided in the entrance courtyard for years, but not utilized as often in the heat of the summer.

Our hope is to turn the Safari Shoppe into a social hub. Please remember when you make a purchase at the shop, that your dollars are reinvested back into the zoo. So instead of stopping at the fast food drive-through for a picnic lunch at the zoo, make a stop at the Safari Shoppe. We offer burgers, hot dogs, cinnamon churros and all those other tasty foods my doctor scolds me about. French fries have been added to the menu as a new item, with the arrival of our new greaseless fryer. (Our fries are not soaked in grease).

And if you're in town today for the Fourth of July, come enjoy the fireworks on the West Green with us. The Dippin' Dots cart will be operating during the extended hours by the lamppost in front of the Wild Asia exhibit, providing a perfect chance to check out one of those bright green spoons. Dippin' Dots and fireworks may become your new family tradition. Please remember to recycle your ice cream dish. There will be a temporary unit next to the Dippin' Dots cart.

Brian Nelson is the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo executive director. Email him at director@forlz.com. Visit www.folrz.org to become a Friend of Lee Richardson Zoo.