Plastic-Free to Save Our Sea

aquarium-009What if the ocean had more plastic than fish?

It sounds crazy - but scientists predict it may happen by 2050. Plastic is found in almost all of the Earth’s waters - its rivers, lakes, and especially the ocean. Over half of all marine mammals and nearly all marine bird are threatened by plastic.

At Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we know the solution to protecting marine wildlife is in our hands. That’s why we're taking action both here at the zoo and in our community to reduce single-use plastics.

Zoo plastic-free reusable bags


Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Lancer Hospitality, and Wildlife Trading Company have joined forces to reduce single-use plastics.
  • We don't provide plastic bottles, plastic lids, or straws in our cafes. 
  • We installed water bottle filling stations to make it easy for guests to have fresh water.
  • We no longer use plastic bags in Zoo and Northwest Trek gift shops, complying with the City of Tacoma's ban on single-use plastic bags.


We've joined Surfrider Foundation, Pierce Conservation District and Metro Parks Tacoma to support the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program in Tacoma and beyond. By making changes to their food service - like eliminating plastic bags and straws - and their energy habits, local restaurants can have a huge impact on the plastic in our ocean, and inspire their customers.

Join us - and if you eat out, ask your restaurant to become Ocean Friendly! 

Learn more.

Straw-free_2.5in circleSKIP THE STRAW

Every day in the U.S., 500 million plastic straws are used once and thrown away - and many end up in the ocean, choking animals and polluting the water.

Don't let yours be one of them. Help solve the problem and Go Straw Free. It's easy, whether you're a business owner or consumer.

Find out how.


You can make a difference! By adopting new habits, watching your purchases, and speaking out in your community, you can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our waterways and ocean. Try these tips:
  • Avoid buying single-use plastic whenever possible.
  • Avoid individually wrapped items such as snack packs and single-serve containers. Buy items in bulk when possible.
  • Fill a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. (You can find water bottle filling stations throughout the Zoo!)
  • Use your reusable bag and containers when shopping, traveling, or packing lunches.
  • Bring your own container for leftovers when dining out.
  • Support proposed bans on single-use plastic bags, like Tacoma's.
  • Organize clean-up efforts in your community.
  • Start a workplace effort to reduce plastic.
  • Spark a conversation on social media.


Washed Ashore plastic bottlesPlastic production has skyrocketed since 1950: A 2015 Worldwatch Institute report noted that approximately 300 million tons of plastic are generated around the globe each year. This is projected to rise to 600 million tons within the next 20 years.

  • Approximately 8 million tons of plastics end up in the ocean annually – equivalent to a dump-truck’s worth every minute – with the major culprit being single-use plastics. These plastics, such as bags, straws, and bottles, often make their way into the ocean through storm drain runoff, when littered, or when they escape trash collection activities, landfills, and even recycling stations. A full 80% of ocean trash originates from land.
  • For every foot of coastline, there are 5 bags worth of plastics in the ocean.
  • Plastics persist in the ocean for a very long time, breaking down into small pieces but never really going away. These micro plastics absorb pollutants, forming a toxic “smog” suspended throughout the entire water column and deposited on the ocean floor.
  • Ocean circulation patterns cause plastics to concentrate in five ocean gyres, sometimes referred to as “garbage patches.” This description is misleading, however, since the majority of plastics in the gyres are invisible microplastics. That’s why you can’t just “clean it up.”


Washed Ashore plastic penguin

At least 637 species of species have been documented as having encounters with ocean plastic pollution.

  • Ocean wildlife such as fish, seals, sea lions, otters, seabirds and whales are harmed by plastics when they become entangled.
  • Many marine animals mistake plastic ocean trash for food, nibbling on it or ingesting it entirely. It’s estimated that 90% of seabirds eat plastic, many feeding it to their chicks which may die from lack of nutrition – despite a full stomach.
  • Toxic microplastics are ingested by invertebrate larvae and fish and are concentrated as these creatures are eaten by other animals up the food web – including seals, sea birds, and orcas. These “poison pills” may contain 1 million times the concentration of PCBs compared to the surrounding water.
  • The implications to human health of microplastics being contained in the food we eat is still unknown.