Peabody Hosting a ‘Practical’ Exhibit on How To Live More Sustainably

Visitors to the newest exhibition at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History can ride a bike, sort recyclable cans and switch on different light bulbs to learn how individuals can live in a more environmentally friendly way.

Titled “Sustainable Choices,” the traveling exhibition offers hands-on activities and features colorful displays, as well as two short films, to explain the kinds of decisions people can make to promote a sustainable world.

The exhibit, which will run through Aug. 23, is designed primarily for families with elementary school children but offers insights for individuals of all ages, says Jane Pickering, the museum’s deputy director.

“This is a very practical exhibit that tells you how you as a family can change what you do in your daily life to live more sustainably,” she says. “The big-picture discussions and ongoing research are very important, but this exhibit brings it down to individual action.”

A sustainable society is generally defined as one that can meet today’s resource needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do so. Widespread concern that Earth’s resources are being exploited at unsustainable levels is causing a rethinking of the way many people live, notes Pickering.

The interactive exhibit at the Peabody is aimed at helping visitors understand their individual roles in sustainable practices — in the context of familiar and immediate objects. Visitors, for example, can pedal a bike and see how much energy they can produce, compared to the energy an automobile might use, says Pickering. Children can learn about recycling by sorting cans and cardboard on an interactive table. By flipping a light switch, visitors can see the energy savings provided by a compact fluorescent bulb versus a traditional incandescent bulb.

Video screens set up at opposite ends of the exhibit — located on the museum’s first floor in the temporary exhibit gallery — show two short films, one of which is a new production that showcases Yale’s own campus-wide sustainability efforts.

The second film, which is actually a series of short how-to videos made by Yale junior M.J. Truong, shows how people can make jewelry out of everyday items that otherwise would be discarded as waste. This production won an award from the Office of Sustainability this year in the Yale IDEAS Competition, which showcases the best concepts in various disciplines, including sustainability, that use new digital media.

The Yale museum is the first venue for one of two identical versions of the “Sustainable Choices” exhibit, which is organized by NRG! Exhibits of Seattle. The other exhibit is now at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History, located at 170 Whitney Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $5 for children ages 3 to 18 and for college students with IDs, and $3 for members of groups making advance reservations. Admission is free for museum members and members of the Yale community with IDs.

More information is available at

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