Green Families

The San Diego Zoo has embarked on a journey to calculate, mitigate, and reduce our carbon footprint for both the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Joining us in this adventure are six families from different locations in the U.S. who have volunteered to share their experiences as they tackle their own carbon footprint. They will be posting blog entries on this page regularly, talking about their challenges, ideas, and victories. Read along with them, and see what you might try in your own household!

Six families agreed to try living more sustainably and lower their carbon footprint for two months as part of the San Diego Zoo’s Green Family Challenge. During this time, we issued biweekly challenges for them to try; they then wrote about their experiences in our Green Family blogs. For the final challenge (#5), we asked the families to look at their recreational and entertainment choices to see what ideas they could come up with to make going green fun! Readers voted (1,995 votes cast for this challenge!) for the family they felt had the best ideas.
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We’ve issued challenges to our “green” families and asked them to share their experiences. Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

This previous week was finals at UCSB. Considering that my friends and I consistently had finals throughout the week, I’m a little surprised we went camping at all. I don’t really remember how it started, but at some point last week someone suggested the idea. It was probably the fact that none of us have genuinely gone “camping” in the woods with a tent in a few years, something I had hoped would never happen. But we ended up finding a relatively secluded place only an hour away in Ojai, California.
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Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Sorry™, Uno, Chinese checkers, regular checkers, chess, Legos, battleship, fencing, baseball, swimming, Nerf dart tag, skiing, sailing, kayaking, reading, hiking with the dog, exploring streams, mountains and interesting rock formations, puzzles, body surfing, beach sitting, beach reading, beach bocci ball and beach Uno with waterproof cards. (Can you tell we are coming off a very cold, snowy and beach-less winter?)
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Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Woohoo! I love it when I get “challenged” to have fun! My five favorite things to do for fun…all now a little bit greener:

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Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Charles and I have spent a lot of time camping and hiking with the girls, so this practice is well engrained in our family psyche. It takes on a new meaning, though, now that we’ve learned about carbon footprints. Can we continue to enjoy long road trips, airline flights, and epic movies, knowing how burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change? How can we have fun and still be good to the planet?
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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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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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