News Column

Akron Zoo urges members to help reach million 'green' goals

February 12, 2014

By Kathy Antoniotti, The Akron Beacon Journal

Feb. 12--Living a green lifestyle can be accomplished by consistently practicing simple things, such as disconnecting your cellphone from its power source after it is charged or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.

Friends and fans of the Akron Zoo are raising money for zoo conservation efforts by being conscious of their green actions each day and reporting them online, said David Barnhardt, director of marketing and guest services.

"Even dumping your coffee grounds in the compost pile is saving power when you think about it," Barnhardt said.

The zoo is inviting patrons to become members in the initiative called One Million Actions for Planet Earth in a competition that encourages people to report their green activities on the ­myActions social platform online.

Members who are participating for the Akron Zoo can work to support conservation efforts for Team Red Wolves, Team Lions or Team Penguins during the current winter campaign that ends Feb. 19.

Competition between the teams is fierce, said Doug Piekarz, vice president of planning and conservation at the zoo.

"The smack talk between them is getting pretty heated," he joked.

As of Tuesday, Akron's 239 members accomplished 4,021 actions, he said. More than 11,500 participants worldwide have logged almost 240,000 actions with the numbers increasing hourly.

"The goal is to do one million sustainable actions as a gift for the planet for Earth Day," Piekarz said.

Participants can earn points by taking a photo of their actions and commenting about them, or by simply reporting on the site what they did.

Akron Zoo program members were in second place worldwide Tuesday, behind the Cincinnati Zoo and just ahead of the Columbus Zoo, having accumulated just under 72,000 points since the Winter Challenge segment of the initiative began Jan. 27.

To earn points, members are encouraged to select the most interesting actions from those they accomplish throughout a day, They then are assigned social strength values -- a number based on the action, details added and if a personal photo is included.

By sharing their efforts online, participants trigger virtual rewards to generate a small donation to the person's favorite conservation project. Members, who may report up to 10 actions a day, can each earn up to $1 daily. Akron Zoo members generated more than $730 in the first two weeks of the initiative, Piekarz said.

The Ohio "born and grown" initiative started out as a way to save the planet by having fun and making it competitive.

"It engages people in the framework of sustainability," Pierkarz said.

The program is a collaboration with Arctic Action Teams.

A Spring Challenge is scheduled to run from March 31 through April 20.

Earth Week (April 21-27) and Earth Day (April 22) will be a celebration of the One Million Actions, zoo officials said.

To become a member and choose your Akron Zoo team, visit ­www.­­Akron.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or


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Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

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