Detroit Zoo to Phase Out Bottled Water Sales


ROYAL OAK — The Detroit Zoo hopes to wean its visitors off the bottle. As part of the Detroit Zoological Society’s Greenprint sustainability plan, the Zoo has launched a three-year initiative to discontinue the sale and use of bottled water.

While bottled water is the number-one seller at Zoo concession stands and generates $240,000 in annual sales, it is also the largest contributor to plastic waste. 

“This phase-out will cost us revenue, but it’s important to walk our talk and do what’s good for the environment,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO .

The zoo will gradually increase the sale of reusable water bottles at concession stands, which can be refilled for free at one of seven new filtered-water stations throughout the park. Interpretive signage explains why the zoo is making the switch.

“We understand that this will be an adjustment for some visitors, but we hope it will help in a simple but significant way to make a difference for the planet,” Kagan said.

According to the Earth Policy Institute, more than 30 billion water bottles each year end up as garbage or litter in the United States. Additionally, it takes five liters of water to make one liter of bottled water, and it requires about a quarter of a water bottle of oil to produce, transport and dispose of a single bottle of water.

The Greenprint is the DZS’s plan to refine and improve daily practices and facilities, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy in the community. To learn more about the water bottle phase-out plan and other green initiatives, visit