Green at Shedd
Earlier this year, Shedd replaced its old chillers with new models that keep our cold water-loving dolphins and whales comfortable without wasting energy. This project was done thanks to generous support from the Public Museum Capital Grants Program from Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois State Museum. Since 2011, Shedd’s electricity use dropped by more than 1 million kilowatts despite unseasonably warm summer weather.
Shedd’s award-winning horticulture team proves that “green” gardens can be lush and colorful. From the huge yellow blossoms on native prickly pears in our dune garden to the rainbow of peppers in our organic vegetable garden, Shedd’s external landscaping rivals the beauty of the habitats inside the aquarium. Our gardens are pesticide-free, and we rely on compost and crushed cocoa bean shells from a local chocolate factory to keep our soil healthy. Every year we incorporate even more native plant species and design our gardens with local wildlife in mind. Our latest effort is a migratory bird garden by the Abbott Oceanarium. Download our garden fact sheet.
Our more than 32,500 animals need a lot of water to swim and thrive, so we have to get creative to reduce our water use. Our recent Abbott Oceanarium renovations allowed us to make some big changes, such as waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets and a new rain catchment system on our roof. Our award-winning landscaping features native plants and a lush rain garden that relies on the skies, rather than sprinklers, for moisture.
Recycling is a big deal at Shedd; we work hard to recycle everything we can, from the specialty bulbs that provide the light spectrum our animals need to the batteries that fuel our flashlights and hand-held radios. We recycle our e-waste, cardboard and pallets. We recycle unused office supplies through office-supply-swap parties and earned LEED points by recycling construction waste for our new office suite. Better yet, we buy products that don’t need to be recycled, like reusable corn-plastic mugs for staff, re-writable CDs and refillable pens. We even recycle 97.5 percent of constructions and demolition wase from the Abbott Oceanarium renovation—that's 942 tons of stuff diverted from landfill!
Shedd’s Green Team launched composting in 2003, and we have since diverted more than 120 tons of kitchen and garden waste from landfills. Every staff member has a desktop compost bin, and each office area hosts a larger bin that is emptied nightly. The conservation and fishes departments take their composting one step further; if you searched the cool, dark corners of their offices, you would find bins of worms churning through leftover apple cores and greens from lunches and animal food prep. Shedd uses the resulting compost in exhibits and gardens. As for the worms, they’re a favorite snack for our freshwater rays!
When more than 32,500 animals call your aquarium home, meal prep requires the expertise of staff members in many areas, from animal care to horticulture to conservation. As part of our commitment to sustainability, Shedd works to find environmentally sound choices for animal diets. On any given day, we might be planting gardens of leafy greens for our herbivorous fishes, turtles and lizards, raising microscopic live foods for hungry seahorses and tiny baby fishes, or ordering thousands of pounds of Right Bite-approved shrimp for voracious sea otters. With so many nutritional needs—and more than a few picky eaters—it can be quite a task to find meals that are tasty, healthy and green. Download our sustainable diets fact sheet to find out more.
From local food and beverages to organic, Fair Trade coffee, Shedd takes green food service seriously. We use washable tableware in our cafes and, when disposables are necessary, we provide biodegradable options that can be pulped or composted. Speaking of compost, we send our food-prep waste to the compost facility rather than a landfill. You won’t find trash cans in our cafes; guests drop off their trays on a conveyor system so we can sort their waste behind the scenes. Learn more about Shedd’s sustainable food service operations.
Design and Production
At Shedd, maps, signs and exhibits are an integral part of our guests’ experience. We strive to use materials that are high quality and environmentally friendly, from 100 percent-recycled-content maps to lower impact printing methods. Learn more about our design and production processes.
Compost with worms
Vermiculture – composting with worms – is an easy way to turn your food scraps into rich fertilizer for your garden or houseplants. Learn how to start your very own worm bin.