NEW BEDFORD — The Buttonwood Park Zoo is teaming up with Fairhaven Sustainability Committee, UMass Dartmouth and the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District for “Plastic Free July”, an eco-challenge designed to lessen consumer use of single-use plastic.

This 31-day global eco-challenge helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution by providing resources and ideas to reduce single-use plastic waste at home, work, school, and even local restaurants.

The challenge website offers over 65 suggested actions, such as replacing a plastic straw with a metal one or carrying a reusable water bottle.

“We’re partnering with 45 other zoos and aquariums across the country as well as UMass Dartmouth’s sustainability initiative, the Fairhaven Sustainability Committee, and the New Bedford Recycling program. We’re really trying to encourage everyone to join our eco-challenge team, which is team South Coast, MA, to spend July really looking at their everyday use of single-use plastics to help us make an impact with this problem,” Buttonwood Park Zoo Curator of Education Carrie Hawthorne said on the Phil Paleologos Show Tuesday morning.

“There’s lots of opportunities to reduce the use of any kind of single-use item, like bringing your reusable water bottle around with you.”

The Buttonwood Park Zoo and its partners are asking the community to take the plastic-free challenge and be part of this international movement.

“For the last two years, we have focused on reducing single-use plastics, such as grocery bags, that are used for mere minutes. Americans use nearly 100 billion plastic bags each year, and only about 1% are recycled. The rest end up in our oceans and environment where they have a negative impact for decades to come,” Hawthorne said.

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is also celebrating its 125th birthday, as the 12th oldest operating zoo in the country.  Buttonwood will be celebrating on Independence Day weekend with a special, family-oriented event called Zoobiliation. The event features entertainment and multiple activities for children, while also featuring live entertainment, food and more.

Visit https://plasticfree.ecochallenge.org, join ‘Team SouthCoast MA’ and commit to refuse, reduce and recycle in July.