Archive for March 2010

Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Using your own bag is so easy, even a cat can do it!

This was an odd conglomerate of items and tasks for Challenge #5—a jumbo battery charger and reusable water bottles—in the context of our recreation activities. Not being a cave hunter or living under a bridge (thankfully), I was hard pressed to tie these items together. About the only battery-charged recreation we do is taking pictures, and we already have a batter recharger for those little AAs.

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The weather is warming up and we are finally able to dig ourselves out of the snow. This is good on several levels. Obviously with warmer temperatures comes less power used to heat our home. The other big difference is that we are coming out of hibernation and being more active; whether it is going for walks or playing at the park, we are starting to spend a lot more time outside (when it’s not raining).
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Hi,
This is my first blog for the San Diego Zoo’s conservation program. I’m glad to be a part of it and hope that you find my experience in responsible living interesting.

I’ve been an active recycler for most of my life. I learned it from my grandpa, who had to survive through the Great Depression of the 1930s. But whomever you learn it from, I encourage you to find ways to reduce how much we all needlessly consume and then discard in our landfills.

Okay…enough lecturing. Let’s have some fun!
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Kalluk, left, and Chinook

Could it be we are nearing the end of our fantastic remodel of the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at the San Diego Zoo? Anyone who has remodeled their home knows the joys and dilemmas that improvement brings. Most of the work that impacted our bears was completed last fall with the building of our management yard and the experience wall.
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Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

What rocks your world? The Feb. 27 earthquake in Chile got as much attention for its local destruction as well as its impact on the Earth’s axis. Apparently, the tremor shortened the length of a day by about 1.26 microseconds. Consider that! We complain that there are not enough days in a week, and now each day may have sped up! Life does indeed come at you fast. So if the world can change gears with a shudder, what does it really take for us to change habits to lessen our carbon footprint?

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Families participating in our Green Family Challenge were asked to monitor their home’s electricity use and share their attempts to “hibernate” for Challenge #4: In the Dark? Each family received a watt meter, home electrical monitor, and low watt bulbs. When they actually took stock of how much electricity their homes used, they were amazed!
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Challenge #4: In the Dark?

From what I can tell, everyone in our house is pretty educated when it comes to moderating their electrical usage. We all make an effort to turn the main lights off if no one is here, as well as individual lights in our rooms. As I’ve talked about before, our biggest drains have to be our laptops, which are consistently plugged in and, if not on, then asleep. This still doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that we can still save energy. Especially since I finally received my box of Zoo schwag and energy saving devices (Green Family Challenge Kit) that never made it here the first time around (see post Shower Time at College). Unfortunately, this means I missed out on getting to use the nifty thermal leak detector, which is nothing short of awesome.


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Challenge #4: In the Dark?

Looking up at the 'swirly lightbulb' in the front porch light.

Joining a co-op, cooking, and monitoring the house for leaks aren’t usually tasks for a 9-year-old, although Henry did enjoy visiting the co-op and picking out apples. He also liked eating the apples and drinking the cider. BUT, turning lights off, shutting down the computer, and conserving electricity aren’t hard to do, and as I say, “If you can reach the switch to turn it on, you can reach the switch to turn it off!” Sometimes, though, we just forget.
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Challenge #4: In the Dark?

Lighting is everything. It needs to be efficient and far-reaching, but not glare. It needs to be warm but not stifling. Ambient lighting can enhance or deflate the best of moods. When I saw that low-watt bulbs were part of this Green Family gig, I blanched. That morgue-green lighting just puts my teeth on edge! I’d rather sit in the dark than languish in that swampy hue. Imagine my delight when, after installing the low-impact light bulb into our living room lamp, the room ignited in the typical warm glow that other high-use bulbs display. Yeah! I guess the one we already had was made a few years ago, before General Electric mastered the family-friendly glow. Now I can save a few k-watts and not dampen—or darken—my mood!
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As a family, we have made several changes around the house to reduce our carbon footprint. Some of the easiest, and most obvious, are changing our regular light bulbs out for energy-saver bulbs, keeping our thermostat set a few degrees lower than normal, and turning off lights when we aren’t in the room. I know turning off lights sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but it makes a huge difference.
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