I Pledge! I Do!

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.

MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst present The Presidential Pledge

Love and Earthly blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

32 Responses to “I Pledge! I Do!”

  1. Hi Kathryn, excellent post! I’m sitting here nodding my head, yes, yes I do too, I do too. I think It is of utmost importance that we all say YES to all your 7 points.

    Have a great weekend my friend/ Tyra

  2. Great pledges Kathryn. Having bags in my rucksack and car has solved the plastic bag problem for me. I also have produce bags for buying fruit and veg ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great weekend! xx

  3. Wonderful ideas, dear Kathryn. You have indeed challenged my dedication to making a pragmatic difference in my personal practices. Especially love your patriotic potted evergreen. The Costco fanatic that I am, you’ll be delighted to know they now offer re-usable HUGE BAGS, which I now own and use (and fill) ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi,Tyra, half way ’round the world! Yes, this is a global initiative, and I daresay that Europe has been way ahead of us, I’m certain, for a long time. But now you will see we will do much better! Thanks for the early morning visit! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Hi, VP, not one bit surprised you have to locked down in place! Bravo! I’m catching up! Kathryn xoxo

  6. Good morning, dear Joey! Thank you! I will be sure to see what Costco is about next time I’m down there! Hugs! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Excellent pledges, Beautiful mom of mine!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Great suggestions!!!
    I am doing these, but have found myself drawn to buying more locally;
    not just to support the local economy and reduce fuel costs (very important!),
    but also because eating with the seasons is a healthier way of life as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love you,

  8. I have a friend who is involved with water conservation. She is inside my head where she screams at me any time I leave a faucet running for more a heartbeat longer than needed. Now Kathryn will be in my head when I shop, drive, do laundry, etc. Oh my.

  9. Hi, Darling Daughter! Aw, yes, your Dutch macrobiotic roots are sprouting! Eat what you find in your environment! You are so right! (Good thing we live in California!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Love, Mom xxoo

  10. Lovely post Kathryn, you’re such an inspiration.

  11. Hi, Dick! I have one of those water guides in my head, too. She is a simple Mexican Indian woman who noticed I was letting the water run in a rustic sink out on a rooftop somewhere or other (probably Mexico City,maybe Acapulco; I can’t recall). I only remember her small frame and lovely brown face turning gently and quietly toward me and looking into my face. She never said a word. And there was no judgment. Just the softest kiss of awareness and perhaps a hint of query. Powerful moment. Thanks for the visit and the taking note! ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xox

  12. Good morning,Kathlene! Thank you! Kathryn xoxo

  13. Hi Kathryn!
    Your re-usable shopping bags look so festive and fun! We keep a group by the door, and I have some at work and a stash in the car. Ours look positively dreary compared to your fun designs! This will be a fun project to think about. I think I will get some of those fabric paints. With a gold tipped pen I could write favorite quotes on the black canvas bag.
    I have had a few “Eureka!” moments regarding the environment. One was learning about the Pacific garbage patch, and an earlier one was seeing in a satellite image the Arctic in summer devoid of ice. Doing something was better than feeling sick to my stomach.
    We have not used the dryer in over a year. We line dry everything by the outside stairs or in the laundry room. There are practical benefits, too: My dress shirts for work last much longer, and the tech clothes I have for hiking and weekends from REI do not get static.
    Other things in your post struck me: the benefits of a good nights rest and driving without stress. Here in the city you can only go so fast and so far anyway, so slowing down and not being in a rush has health benefits, too. I am always asked what my secret is when I have my blood pressure taken at a doctor’s visit!
    Laughter is great, too. I certainly feel lighter and happier doing something for the planet, no matter how small.
    Warm regards,

  14. I too do most of these things, although recently I have been backsliding because I’ve had other family emergencies. Hardest, after remembering bags, is to turn off the power to the power strips that bring energy to the tvs, the sound system, and the computer. We try to turn all this stuff off every night completely. It’s sort of a pain, because the cable guides need half an hour to mount once you turn the power back on, but I can get channel 9 automatically, so that’s okay. My final comment – I really enjoy your blog. I live in Santa Cruz, so there are some similarities of climate and region. I especially enjoy your visual sense, and your use of color. Thanks! Nancy

  15. Hi, Philip! Wow. I’m so incredibly impressed that you have not used your dryer in a year! I gave this some thought. I pretty much don’t use mine for clothes, as implied. (Good point that they last longer!) I use it for linens. With two Border Collies and two cats they alone contribute to the linen pile with towels for drying and mud (ugh) and blankets for all of them, all washed weekly. Yes, the garbage patch. Ick. Can we google earth that?I’m afraid to look. Love the idea of decorating your shopping bags, but, really the ones I found were all about $12 apiece. I thought that was very reasonable given their task. They seem really strong so I expect to use them a long time. Thanks for the great input! Kathryn xoxo

  16. Hi, Nancy! Thank you for your kind comments. I love Santa Cruz. Lived there briefly ages ago. Yes, a lovely teenage boy named Paris whom I met in the health food store was educating me on the practice of turning off the power strips at night. I’m not there yet, but contemplating. Maybe the next thing I can integrate! Thanks for bringing this to light. Warmly, Kathryn xoxo

  17. Hi
    I was chuffed that I do virtually everything you have listed. I have my bags ready each week for the shopping and the supermarket I shop in actively encourages you to bring your own bags – this is a growing trend in the Uk with some small towns trying to go plastic bag free.

    Not only do I turn my mobile phone charger off, I also turn off everything including my broadband router, Sky box etc. I was told that the Sky box wouldnt like this but it seems fine. I have realised that I have become quite boring about turning things off.

    I’m not so good at buying locally due to the extra cost and time involved. Working full time and sometimes long hours puts a pressure on my precious time at weekends so unless it is the veg place I drive past onthe way home I tend to stick to the supermarket – maybe I will try and improve.

    These are all small things that we can do to improve our world and the money in our pockets. I think they are basic common sense and things we should have been doing for a while but have been too lazy to do.

  18. Hi, Helen, Congratulations on having integrated so many of these practices early. Just from your saying that small towns are contemplating going “plastic bag free” only underscores my belief that the UK is ahead of us in these matters. I can tell you firsthand that this small town is nowhere near that thought, and I’m in California! I hope to become as good at turning everything off. I think there are many reasons why we don’t do all of these things collectively, but I think it’s more about habit and lifelong education than anything. We could write books about why and how people change! (And do!) Anyone needing a big fat slap in the face of reality can google what Philip was mentioning. Two words. Garbage Patch. (Be prepared to weep.) Meanwhile I personally am going to try to make my changes FUN! Kathryn xoxo

  19. Good for you! Love the bags!

    (now, would you consider doing some trips by bike? or walking? I’m amazed how often that’s possible. of course I do live in California…)


  20. Hi, Renate! Glad you also like those bags! I’m also in CA. Gas guzzling is not one of my issues, fortunately! But I have been thinking about a bike. Good nudge! Kathryn xoxo

  21. Thanks for reminding us that there are so many more things that we can do. Small things add up so much. Also, where oh where did you find the lovely overgrown chico-esque type bags? They’re beautiful!

  22. Hi, Radiance! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, we can. About those bags: I myself keep thinking about that black and green one, so when I find out who made them,I will post here, OK? Yes,gorgeous bags! Kathryn xoxo

  23. Hi Kathryn, I love the bags idea, I should try it from now on. I always do the dry in the sun pledge since like forever but now I will pledge to do the rest of your list… : )

  24. I had NO idea about number 4… thanks for the tip. I will definitely start doing that. Love, love, love the bags. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Welcome,RZK! Good for you for doing the sun thing! Glad you are inspired! Kathryn xoxo

  26. Hi,Christy! It took me a long time to hear about the cellphone charger, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I went back and bought the black and green bag this morning! Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  27. I love this list. It’s a great compilation of the (relatively) small changes that in aggregate, mean a lot. So glad to have found your blog (thanks to Demi Moore’s link from Twitter! so funny.)

  28. Hi, Paige (love the name!), and welcome! I love your summary and the word aggregate! Yes! On the surface they look so trifle, right? But with our many numbers these little things make a big difference! So glad you found the blog,and yes, wasn’t Demi utterly kind to highlight this post? I’m really grateful.
    Kathryn xoox

  29. I think it is a wonderfully worthy list and all are great suggestions. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Thanks, Nancy! Kathryn xoxo

  31. I’m so glad that this morning I got over here to your place and am inspired. I have, somehow without realizing it, begun turning off unused lights, watching water consumption, and using a lot less fuel, because I’m tired of going anywhere. Now you inspire me to really think about changes I want in my life. Thanks, Kathryn!

  32. Hi, CurtissAnn, That is so dear: tired of going anywhere. I can relate! Times to travel. Times to be still. And a goodly benefit not using up gasoline! Hug, CA! Kathryn xoxo

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