Simple Sustainability

7 08 2009

A California Academy of Sciences takeaway: we may not all be able to live or work under a living roof, but little steps count too. Upon leaving the Academy of Sciences, guests are offered miniature pamphlets titled “Sustainability Made Simple,” chock full of pointers that make going green easy in all aspects of daily life. Some of my favorites:

  • When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags: a pretty common one, but such an easy (and fun) one to carry out. Reusable bags are everywhere, and they are often cheap and attractive. You can even get shopping sets. I’m a fan of Baggu Bags, for their fun colors and their little saks that make them easy to toss in the purse.
  • Choose local restaurants over chains. Not only does this make life (and meals) more interesting, it generally means that the meal is sourced close to home, which means fresher food and less strain on the environment.
  • Take the train or bus instead of flying or driving. This may not always be possible, but when it is, it’s better on the environment, and tends to be more scenic and enjoyable as well. Sometimes travel is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.

For more tips, well, visit the Academy of Sciences. I guarantee you’ll take away a lot more than a pamphlet.





Keeps Getting Better

13 01 2009

I continue my obsession with the California Academy of Sciences…

Not only is it sustainable and amazing, it also offers fantastic travel opportunities. Academy members gain free admission, special hours, free admission to lectures, and much more, including access to the travel program, which sends small group tours all over the world with specially trained guides for a close glimpse at some of the greatest nature has to offer. Coming up Feb. 9-18: “Galapagos in the Year of Darwin,” celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday with a return to where it all began. The cruise will island-hop, and an academy leader plus an additional expert will provide education on the topography and vast wildlife to be seen. Oh, and the option extension is none other than Machu Picchu. If only I had $7,000…

The American Museum of Natural History has a similar travel program, AMNH Expeditions for visits to cultural sites and unmatched educational experiences.





Park-ing

9 01 2009

There is something about having a major, beautiful park that makes a city fantastic. If Central Park is the epitome of this, Golden Gate Park is a close second (though I think perhaps it is on par, and getting better all the time).

Some things to do in Golden Gate Park:

  1. Stop and smell the roses (or other flower of your choice): The stunning glass-domed building, just as amazing as when it first opened in 1979, is just the beginning. Inside the Conservatory of Flowers are nearly 2,000 species of plants, each more amazing and beautiful than the next.
  2. Take Tea: The Japanese Tea Garden is one of the most-visited sights in San Francisco, and for good reason. It is a tranquil oasis within the city, for relaxation, meditation, or just a nice long stroll. All the rest is so amazing, you just have to see for yourself.
  3. Look at Art: After tea in the garden stop in the nearby de Young Fine Arts Museum. In its new modern (and eco-friendly) building since 2005, the museum still houses elements of the original 1921 museum, including the Pool of Enchantment, sphinx sculptures, and the initial palm trees,  ferns, redwood. Plus, of course, a whole lot of beautiful art.
  4. Commune with Nature: Though I’ve not yet been the newly re-opened California Academy of Sciences is a recent obsession. Here a four-story rain forest, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a natural history museum all reside under one living roof. That’s right, the entire building is sustainable, from its radiant sub-floor heating to the tippy-top of its (literally) green roof, created of native vegetation that will capture rainwater and serve as a habitat for wildlife. Incredible just doesn’t seem enough here.
  5. Eat. After all that exploring, head to the historic Beach Chalet, which combines yummy food with lovely views, both inside, where WPA frescoes capture a 1930s San Francisco, and outside, where the Pacific waves crash against Ocean Beach.