How many times have you found yourself already in line at the grocery store when you realize you forgot to bring your reusable totes? Maybe you always remember your bags at the supermarket, but you never think about it when you head out to shop for new clothes or take home the better part of a delicious meal from your favorite restaurant in one of those foam containers. In this context, sustainable behavior is a matter of remembering and acting consistently in ways that, collectively, will make an environmental difference.
Women of the Wild (WOW) is a group of exceptional individuals from Brevard that are poised to bring their brand of sustainable behavior to our area. This Brevard Zoo program that has been making waves further north until now, is expanding its reach to the Treasure Coast, thanks, in part, to the Vero Beach Outlets. During their kickoff event in March at the outlets community room, together with Beth Hager, Marketing Coordinator for the outlet mall, WOW announced their partnership with Vero Beach Outlets with a brief presentation, followed by a fun evening of shopping with WOW reusable bags. The evening was a success and attracted new and enthusiastic members from Indian River County.
“We are thrilled to partner with Women of the Wild to salute the important work this dedicated group undertakes throughout the year to help keep our region thriving, strong and beautiful,” said Vero Beach Outlets Marketing Coordinator Beth Hager. “As stewards of our local environment, Women of the Wild members are true local leaders that not only educate but give of their time to perform positive changes in the communities which we all love.”
For 2018 the group defined a set of goals they call "sustainable behaviors," a challenge that began with each participant tracking their usage of the top "worst offender" items that negatively impact the environment and local wildlife. They identified three top categories and went to work creating alternative behaviors in each. The first category was takeout and to-go plastic items. WOW developed a Sustainability Survival Kit (pictured here) which includes a reusable to-go container, reusable straw, cleaning brush, chopsticks and a cloth napkin, all in an insulated tote bag.
“Reusable bags beyond the grocery store,” became the second category according to WOW Program Coordinator, Wendy Barnes. At the shopping event, Barnes explained that reusable bags can and should be used everywhere, and she demonstrated a light-weight shopping tote that can be folded small enough to fit into almost any size purse. “This is a must-do behavior for any environmentally-conscious individual. Single-use plastics and disposables are out. Reusables are in! While plastic bag bans are being battled in the legislature, we can get started now and decide to bring our own.” She added that the third category and goal will be announced soon.
Women of the Wild have been raising awareness for local wildlife conservation programs for more than three years. This year after a week-long challenge of logging just how many of the worst-offender items (commonly found in local beach clean-ups) they discovered they were using in their daily
lives, WOW adopted sustainable behavior adjustments by developing a list cleverly called “WOW This, Not That.” Rather than simply condemning certain single-use items, the list provides alternatives that are wildlife and local habitat-friendly.
WOW needs Treasure Coast advocates’ help to spread this message and grow this can-do movement of strong women willing to exhibit easy, everyday habits that can help repair the human-caused accidents of our inexperienced past. They are a user-friendly, gentle group that hosts fun events and has a knack for bringing like-minded wo
men together in a unique way.
Annual WOW memberships are a modest $100 donation. All WOW members receive a lovely sterling bracelet with a new charm for each renewal year. The bracelet is a wonderful way to bond with others who want to make a difference, and an elegant reminder of the shared commitment to do so through everyday behaviors and habits. Flagship members are currently wearing a honeybee, oyster with pearl, sea turtle, and flamingo.
Wendy Barnes is Women of the Wild Program Coordinator, as well as a designer committed to creating a wildlife conservation conscious world.
To learn more and join Women of the Wild, please visit brevardzoo.org/wow and contact Wendy Barnes at wbarnes@
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