The Florida Everglades is an ecosystem found nowhere else on earth, and its very existence is constantly under threat. In order to preserve this natural wonder, we all need to make changes. As the source of our drinking water, home to species of flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth, and a major layover for hundreds of migratory bird species, we must make sure that we take the steps necessary to ensure its preservation for generations to come.
One of the greatest threats to the Everglades is habitat destruction, and pollution is a major contributor. Every day, about 1,650 people move to Florida. With these new residents comes increased single-use plastics, increased water consumption, increased solid waste, and urban sprawl that moves us closer and closer to this precious habitat. In South Florida, roughly eight million people depend on the Florida Everglades for their drinking water. Much of the water we drink comes from the Biscayne Aquifer, an underground river that is replenished by the flow of water through the Everglades, whose wetlands filter out the impurities. Impurities that can’t be filtered out, however, are microplastics. Plastics persist in the environment forever. Even when they are broken down over multiple lifetimes, tiny plastic particles remain and are consumed by fish, birds and animals, eventually making their way into our bodies through the food that we eat. Other impurities that pollute the water in the Everglades are chemicals and pesticides from farming which leech into the groundwater, and as runoff into the wetlands. These toxic chemicals not only end up in our water, but they affect the hundreds of thousands of birds which live in or pass through the Florida Everglades on their annual migration. For these reasons and more, preserving and protecting the Everglades is imperative, AND YOU CAN HELP!
By making small changes such as reducing our use of plastics, reusing our waste products and conserving water, together we can impact great change. Flamingo Gardens is poised to present education on everyday changes that can make a difference to over a quarter of a million guests each year. By presenting information through signage, classes, programs and events, Flamingo Gardens aims to educate and inspire the public to make changes in their everyday lives to help preserve the Everglades.
We invite you to join us and “Be EPIC”. That stands for Everglades Preservation Involves Change.
We know it won’t be easy. It is going to take all of us making changes to achieve the following goals:
Water conservation – Did you know that Flamingo Gardens consumed 5,104,000 gallons of city water in 2022? Our goal for the next year is to reduce our city-water consumption by 5%. That’s just over 250,000 gallons of water which is a significant amount of water to be saved. At home, you can take steps to reduce your water consumption by installing low-flow sinks and low-capacity toilets, fixing leaky pipes and hoses, only running your dishwasher when it is full, and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
Reduced single-use plastic consumption – Did you know that in 2022, Flamingo Gardens sold over 17,000 beverages in single-use plastic bottles? Our goal is to completely stop sales of all plastic drink bottles at Flamingo Gardens in the next year. Plan on seeing more water refill stations throughout the gardens, and pick up a Flamingo Gardens reusable water bottle next time you’re in the Gift Shop. At home, you can reduce single-use plastic consumption by replacing bottled shampoo with a shampoo bar, ditching plastic straws for the reusable stainless-steel variety, asking for no extras when you get takeout, and bringing your own reusable bags when you shop.
Composting – Did you know that Flamingo Gardens has a compost pile? Our Horticulture Department has been composting plant material at the nursery for well over a year, and that compost material is used throughout the gardens as rich soil. Our goal is to increase compost production at Flamingo Gardens by 50% in the next year, by installing compost collection stations at the Flamingo Pond Snack Bar / Grill and in our Animal Care clinic. You can compost your own organic waste at home and use it in your own garden. Some cities are implementing composting city-wide, and if your city isn’t one of them, you can advocate for that change.
All of these changes won’t happen overnight, but we are excited to implement strategies here at Flamingo Gardens, with your help, to preserve our precious resource and natural wonder, the Florida Everglades. Keep an eye out for new signage and more as we roll out our Be EPIC campaign in the coming months.