Unable to actually shout from the rooftops, my new optimism, shared by millions around the country, found visual expression in a potted evergreen out front of my house. Passersby find themselves quietly grinning when they spot the red bow on the decorative flag now planted in the pot. Coupled with the enthusiasm is a renewed dedication to making a pragmatic difference in my personal practices. Here is a list of what I’m pledging to do.
1. Pledging to USE those Portable Shopping Bags.
Since my last post I am happy to report that I figured out just what I needed to fully implement the carrying of portable shopping bags into the grocery store, to alleviate needing paper or plastic bags. I learned that I needed four large bags to make it work. I made remedy straightaway by adding these three great fun purchases to the one I already owned.
Before I go into the store I now ask myself how many bags I will need for my groceries, and take that many in. Often one is enough. I realized that what ultimately worked for me was to approximate what I’m accustomed to over many years–large paper flat-bottomed bags. And I took a page from a reader last week and am religiously putting the emptied bags back on the front door handle, ready to go back into the car. Problem solved!
I must add that I found another kind of bag in shopping for the above, highly recommended to me. It’s kind of a glorified ChicoBag, in that it’s also nylon and rolls up. But it apparently has a much larger armhole, for carrying; does not need to be stuffed back into anything; and, best yet, has a wide assortment of designs. (I still think the Fun Quotient is important.) They are called Envirosax.
2. I will be even more diligent about turning off the lights.
I’m already pretty habituated to turning lights off that are unnecessary. I brought this awareness into my life in grad school when I studied Deep Ecology and was introduced to the concept of Global Warming. I tend to keep lights really low and sparse in the evenings for another reason–keeping the house lights dimmed or minimal is a great way to slow myself down after a stimulating day, and prepare for a good night’s sleep, the cornerstone of my good health.
3. I pledge to buy more things locally.
I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to get fanatic about strictly buying locally. I have lived too many places on the globe to want to limit myself to that practice. I require more variety. And for as long as mankind has been on the planet I’m pretty sure trade was an integral part of our human condition. But at the same time I am now noting where things were grown and thinking about how much fuel it took to get that (fill in the blank) in my hand. I may well boycott whatever it is and see if I can find a local alternative. I’m ever at the local farmer’s market and buy whatever I can from people in my locale, creating a win on many levels. So raising my awareness of where things came from is a good new barometer.
Another thing to bear in mind in this same realm is to think for a moment where the money I just spent is going once it leaves my hand. Will it go back to a remote corporate headquarter, and thus leave my immediate community straightaway? Or will it feed a local family who might also reinvest those dollars into the farmer’s markets, etc.? Just something to ponder.
4. I pledge to unplug my cellphone charger.
Someone reading this will be able to tell me exactly what the benefits are, I’m sure. For quite awhile I poo-poohed this notion, finding myself thinking, “Oh, come ON. How much energy could we be saving?” I preferred the convenience of having the charger perpetually plugged in. Know what got me? The ad on tv where the young man is asking the teenage girl in jeans if “that is her cellphone charger” which is plugged (perpetually) into her bedroom wall, which she promptly denies. Until her cellphone rings. In her pocket. Which she tries, uselessly, to ignore. Cracked me up. And I said, “OK, I got it.” And I’ve been unplugging ever since. Thanks to the brains and creativity of whoever did that psa.
5. Car stuff: I pledge to drive more slowly, drive more evenly, keep tires at correct air pressure.
I know you know that driving more slowly and more evenly saves energy. And, most likely, you are all aware that our tires have an optimal air pressure which we need to maintain monthly. If we do these right we will save 1% on our energy usage. If we all did that it would surely add up.
6. I pledge to get off catalogue lists that have no interest to me.
Gardeners, take note! We especially get tons of catalogues that we truly have no interest in receiving. Am I right? I’m promising to take the time to notify the folks who send me ones that are off purpose for me (and thus them).
7. I pledge to dry even more of my clean washed clothes out of doors.
I still grin when I think of a dear friend of mine who is married to a lovely Englishman of a particular upbringing telling me, “My husband would never let me dry my clothes outside.” (What??!) I thought that was pretty hilarious that there could be social implications about where one’s clothes are dried, though kind of endearing in a weird sort of way. (Maybe it’s because I love them both.) But, really, it’s not hard to imagine that in some neighborhoods laundry hanging in the back yard would not be viewed as appropriate. But when examined, why not? I always have some sort of handwash going on, especially in summer. I own clothes that require special handling, and dry cleaning is not my preferred way of doing things. So those things promptly go outside in the sun to dry. I actually enjoy the process. But admittedly, getting all the towels and sheets out into the glorious sunshine is not top of my list, though I started moving in that direction, strangely, when I heard Martha Stewart mention that if you line-dry towels outside, they truly would fluff up if then placed briefly in an dryer. I tried it and it worked, so increasingly more clothes are going up in the sun once the weather stabilizes. I feel like I’m giving a bit of moisture back to the Earth that I don’t think makes it back into circulation to the same measure if I use the clothes dryer (even though there is a vent to out-of-doors). And why use the energy when the sun’s energy will do the job? The clothes smell better and they benefit from the sterilization from the sun.
Dear readers, this is a humble list, but pragmatic. I have other lists that involve other parts of myself, particularly as Making a Difference applies to my business life. That list is very long standing. My purpose here was to address the kinds of things I might do in my daily routine that would make things better. Applied to many this list alone would make things even better.
Unexpectedly, in pondering this post I synchronistically crossed paths with the work Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are doing, inspiring folks through their Presidential Pledge video. I feel honored and privileged to make it available to you. It’s worth watching more than once, I find, and each time it has touched my heart and strengthened my resolve as I realize how widespread and common this impulse has become. Finally.
Love and Earthly blessings,
Posted on January 29th, 2009 by Kathryn
Filed under: People at Work