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It ain’t easy bein’ green… or is it?

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Conservation

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Josie

Ever since I was a little girl, green has been my favorite color. And I’m interested in conservation, so I guess it’s appropriate that I am a member of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Green Team, made up of members who strive to help make the behind-the-scenes component of the place be as green as possible.

I work in the Education Department at the Aquarium. Because I strive to be as green as I can in all aspects of my life, I was thrilled when Tracy, who oversees Education Department volunteers, offered us the option of attending our bimonthly day captain meetings by telephone. Of course, I jumped at the chance to be a telecommuter!

Then I thought about our Green Team meetings and found out that I can attend Green Team meetings from home, too.

Among other things, this allows me to relax, instead of having to make the 13-mile drive during rush-hour traffic. As I am sure most of you can relate, I’d rather save money on gasoline, too. Plus, when the meetings are over, I’m already home! That’s an added plus. Modern technology, while having its downsides, also has some upsides, I’d say!

Attending meetings from home does come with a few inherent problems, however. During a recent day captain meeting, we had a few interruptions: one was when Marley, my neighbor’s black lab, started barking (something he did intermittently throughout the meeting) and the other was when my clock started chiming. But these kinds of occasional challenges are well worth the benefit to me and the environment that greener choices provide.

I also want to tell you about some activities that the Green Team has been involved in this past year. Because our charge is to look primarily at how we can continue to grow greener behind the scenes, we work to make all staff members become more aware of how to make a difference and help with conservation efforts both at work and at home.

For one thing, we now make regular Green Team presentations at our quarterly Aquarium All Staff meetings, explaining what is recyclable, providing general conservation tips, discussing Green Team activities, and promoting upcoming events.

One of the things that our group organizes annually is an outside activity, our street cleanup held each February, which I mentioned in a previous blog. This year’s cleanup was deemed quite a success, with great participation and an increase in the amount of collected trash as compared to previous events.

The annual Earth Week is a big one for the Green Team, with our members helping out during our weekend Earth Day festival and conducting conservation related activities for staff during Earth Week, the week prior to the public celebration. Annually these include “Caught in the Act,” awards that go to people caught in the act of doing something to help save our planet—like using washable mugs for their coffee-drinking needs instead of disposables. Another activity is the recycled art contest in which participants create art using recycled materials. We also offer rewards for people who carpool or use alternative transportation.

The Earth Day festival, which this year celebrated its 9th year, brought together 16 environmental exhibitors who brought, among other things, a live bald eagle that our guests greatly enjoyed. Green Team members helped out at such stations as “Fishing for Trash,” a game that teaches children about recycling; a recycled crafts booth; an E-waste collection booth; and a carbon fluorescent light (CFL) bulb booth giveaway.

Another Green Team event this year was our first-ever Bike to Work Day, which was held in conjunction with the National Bike to Work Day in which businesses across the U.S. encourage their staff to ride their bikes to work in an effort to promote zero emission commutes and better health for all participants. As part of the day’s festivities, the Green Team hosted a complimentary breakfast in Café Scuba for those who biked to work that particular Thursday. In total, we had 12 bike-riders participate, including first-time bike-to-work rider Dudley Wigdahl, who pedaled the farthest distance of 12 miles each way! In addition, several local bike shops pitched in with generous donations to make our event even better. Local bicycle shops donated free giveaways and raffle prizes, while JAX Bicycle Center in Long Beach came to the Aquarium to give free tune ups to our bicyclists.

In an effort to recognize those who are taking steps to conserve, we now also give quarterly Green Team awards to individuals, groups of people, or companies that are doing something great to make our planet greener. Our last such award went to Farmers & Merchants Bank for the company’s effort to go green by offering electronic notifications for investment accounts. For two years, Tina, from our Finance Department, has received two daily paper notifications for the Aquarium’s accounts, and that amounts to a lot of paper! She had previously inquired with Farmers & Merchants Bank as to the possibility of receiving paperless notices. At the time, it was the bank’s policy to always send a paper notice. Recently, however, the bank changed its policy to offer electronic notifications in order to save money and paper. The Aquarium now receives only electronic notices from Farmers & Merchants Bank, which helps the bank and the Aquarium to be much greener companies. (The Aquarium has a long-standing relationship with Farmers & Merchants, which includes the company’s sponsorship of an exhibit in our new Gulf of California gallery, by the way)

Isn’t it great to see people and businesses think and live in greener ways? Now my question is: can, and will you, take another step in making our planet more green?

It ain’t easy bein’ green… or is it?
For our recycled art contest, one of our staff members, Michelle, made knit purse out of plastic grocery bags. It took about 10 plastic bags, which Michelle said she "disemboweled," in the name of recycled art, to make the purse. She cut the plastic bags into long strips and then knit with them as one would with yarn.  | Catherine Fox
It ain’t easy bein’ green… or is it?
Sarah's entry into our recycled art contest was an assortment of greeting cards and envelopes made out of old calendars, a cereal box, and a magazine. Sarah told me that she has a card and envelope template that she uses to trace onto the pictures she chooses to use, and then simply cuts them out. She originally started making these stationery items because she hated wasting the beautiful pictures in old calendars.  | Catherine Fox
It ain’t easy bein’ green… or is it?
These smiling faces were among those who participated in our first-ever Green Team-sponsored Bike-To-Work Day, held in conjunction with the national effort by the same name. A total of 12 staff members rode their bikes to work, including first-time bike-to-work rider Dudley Wigdahl, who pedaled the farthest distance of 12 miles one way!  | Catherine Fox
It ain’t easy bein’ green… or is it?
Nicely displayed are some of the freebies provided for our bike riders by generous local bicycle shops. These included plastic water bottles, which are an essential item while on long bicycle rides.  | Catherine Fox

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