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Houston Zoo Bans Plastic Bags, Hermann Park To Follow

Gift shop customers get to choose between paper and a reusable cloth bag for a few dollars.

Photo of zoo gift shop counter
The Houston Zoo has stopped offering plastic bags to set an example and protect wildlife.

Zoo customers can now choose to get no bag, purchase a reusable one, or get a free paper bag for their souvenirs.

Peter Riger, vice president of conservation at the Houston Zoo, says they wanted to make a difference by lowering plastic bag use in Houston.

“We work very closely in the Gulf of Mexico and in Galveston with sea turtle rehabilitation,” he says. “And we see a lot of plastic finding its way into the water and finding its way into marine life.”

Photo of zoo gift shop counter
The Houston Zoo has stopped offering plastic bags to set an example and protect wildlife.

The zoo made the decision together with its gift shop contractor, Denver, Colorado-based Service Systems Associates.

It also operates the gift shop for the Hermann Park Conservancy, just a few hundred feet away. The company’s vice president for retail, Patrick Brown, says that shop is next.

The contractor stopped ordering plastic bags for the zoo back in May and has now run out completely.

Nancy Gonzalez, the shop’s general manager, says she was a little skeptical at first, “but I was pleasantly surprised how well Houstonians have adapted to the idea and just how conservation-minded they are.”

Gonzalez says they are saving about 200 plastic bags per day. That translates into about $4,000 in savings since May.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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