Children’s Museum To Celebrate Earth Day With Free Tree Giveaway, Collaborates With Waste Management To ‘Go Green’
The Children’s Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz, and Waste Management’s Green Squad have teamed up to help the Museum go green in time for Earth Day. The purpose of this ongoing campaign is to make CMH more cost-efficient by implementing strategies to use less of everything while doing its part to save the environment. The initiative involves recycling, waste education events and invites the community to reduce, reuse, recycle and implement these practices.
The Museum’s Earth Day Celebration on April 18 and 19 will engage visitors in hands-on projects about recycling. Visitors can take art in creating Junk Art, designing unique pieces of art out of recyclables and meet-and-greet the Green Squad, who will share tips on how to live green. The museum will give away tree saplings for kids to take home, while supplies last. These and other activities will involve visitors in hands-on projects surrounding the recycling process, and introduce them to the function and benefits of natural energies.
The Museum intends to place single stream recycling bins throughout the galleries, so that families can properly dispose of the materials they use in activities, like cardboard, paper, plastics, and aluminum. Single stream recycling means all recyclable materials can be placed together. Recycling plastic bottle containers have already been placed in key disposal areas, like the Kids’ Café and the Allen Family Courtyard, where families gather to eat. The Kids’ Café also has switched to biopolymer containers which break down and are suitable for composting. Biopolymers are renewable because they are made from plant materials which can be grown indefinitely.
CMH’s own environmental outdoor exhibit, EcoStation, is powered almost entirely by solar panels. This exhibit enables kids to explore first-hand how their actions impact the environment every day and to see what they can do to make a positive difference for their community. A five-panel, 800 watt pole-mounted solar array produces 500 kWh of electricity each year, which is used to provide power to the exhibit. Giant solar panels can also be found on the museum’s new parking garage. Located on the garage roof, the 55 panel, 8.8 kW solar array produces 11,000 kWh of electricity annually and prevents more than 22,880 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year — the equivalent of planting 912 trees or keeping 768 cars off Houston streets for a day every year.
The Green Squad conducted a waste audit in November 2008 which reviewed CMH practices and helped staff change behaviors in the office. The first step involved introducing a washable and re-usable mug to eliminate the use of Styrofoam cups and water bottles. The museum provided an at-your-desk single stream recycling program for which Waste Management does the sorting. Staff members also began recycling lamps, dry cell batteries and burnt out light bulbs which have small amounts of heavy metals in them that if leaked into the soil or groundwater, can cause multiple environment problems.
Since the Museum’s March 14 expansion, which doubled the size of the Museum to 90,000 square feet, CMH has continued practices such as purchasing bathroom supplies, soap, and sanitizer in bulk, and donating, selling, and reusing used office furniture. Green policy also was included in the next version of the employee handbook. Each person responsible for purchasing supplies has to look through a green “lens,” and where practical, has to make a green purchase. That could mean buying recycled paper or simply buying less paper by finding another communication strategy, such as e-mail or Web site links. Museum staff members have also included in their signature tagline the phrase: “Think before you ink” to remind people to consider the environment before printing their e-mails.
Admission is $7 per person and $6 for seniors 65 years and older. Children under one and Museum Members receive free admission. Free Family Nights are offered Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. courtesy of The Wortham Foundation, Inc. and Kathrine McGovern and the late John P. McGovern, M.D. Two for one admission days on Sunday only will be offered Memorial Day through Labor Day courtesy of Target.
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. -8 p.m. and Sunday from noon-6 p.m. For more information, visit www.cmhouston.org or call 713-522-1138. The museum is closed Mondays, except most Federal holidays and during H.I.S.D. winter and spring breaks, and open Mondays during the summer months from Memorial Day through Labor Day.