Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Behind the scenes at the Long Beach Aquarium

Long Beach, California: In an earlier post, I covered how the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (LBAP) communicates their green mission in their gift shop. Let's go behind the scenes to see how their business practices, some out of public view, support their mission as well. The Aquarium's mission: To instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.

A cell phone recycling program on the front plaza informs guests that recycling cell phones helps protect the ocean. While this is not an impulse decision, returning visitors can bring in used cell phones. For others, it plants the seed that recycling their cell phone is better than throwing it away. The program brings in some revenue for the aquarium, as cell phones are mined for precious metals and other components.

The recycling area in back includes a sign to tell tour guests how much material is being recycled every year. This official signage validates the program for the staff involved in the recycling effort, putting management's stamp of approval on their efforts. Great idea on all fronts.

The aquarium built a "co-gen" natural gas plant to help meet their extensive power needs. This helps the aquarium contain costs as well as freeing up power for the city's needs.

In Cafe Scuba, a variety of organic and sustainable options are featured. In addition, the flatware is not plastic, and can be composted. While the aquarium is not at this time composting the material, they are reducing the use of petro-chemicals and educating visitors, as well as supporting the market for these alternative producers.

These efforts, integrated throughout the business and communicated to visitors, show that the aquarium is practicing what they preach. This authenticity makes visitors feel better about the institution, thus more likely to support it. While a business can always do more, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific gets an A for effort and follow-through.

Tip of the day: Visitors and customers are becoming ever more sensitized to global concerns. Label everything you are doing that's pro-earth, and explore how you can shift business practices to be more green. Not only will you appeal to like-minded people now, it will set you up in the future as a role model, and is an opportunity for positive press and word-of-mouth. For consulting assistance with green business practices, visit Green Octopus.

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