Pinky Promise — This Year’s Environmental Intention

IMG_1825This year’s environmental intention came from a conversation about human trafficking in the cotton industry in many countries around the world as well as the poor wages typically given to textile workers in these same countries.  At the prompting of my niece, Brogan, and my daughter, Eden, we decided to be part of the solution against social justice issues as well as limit our use in this area, which also impacts the world environmentally by not using resources.

What is our solution?  NO CLOTHING SHOPPING for the entire year except at thrift, consignment, vintage stores or from Patagonia or Eileen Fisher, two companies who’ve committed to the entire clothing process being socially just and environmentally aware.  [Two Exceptions:  I am going hunting with my father in Wyoming this fall, while I will do all I can to buy second hand clothing, I’m not sure in southern California I will find “sound proof” rain gear, so I may need to buy from hunting apparel shop.  Second Exception:  bathing suits.  We won’t be buying used bathing suits but Patagonia has some, which may or may not work for my daughter who needs tween sizes but we are committed to researching companies before buying. What we know for sure, is Justice, which is usually Eden’s go to store for bathing suits, will not be our shopping destination this year]

You may, like many people, be saying, “What’s the big deal?” the environmental and social justice impact has already happened, the clothes have already been made.  This is true.  However, demand determines how much is supplied for the next season so if we limit our demand, then the supply (the amount ordered) decreases.  Here’s the thing.  Landfill is real.  If you throw something in the garbage it doesn’t just disappear.  It goes somewhere, most likely in landfill OR in a container to be shipped overseas to be reused by some poor country for newspapers or plastics, etc.  Also, your clothing goes somewhere even if you donate it.  We have an excessive amount of clothing that doesn’t have a home.  How do I know this?  For years, I was on a committee helping the Precious Life Thrift Store and I saw the excess that we, the thrift store had to give away because there was just too much coming in.  AND we were only one of four thrift stores in a 5 mile radius.  I’m sure we aren’t the only ones who have/ had this problem of excessive donations that couldn’t be used.  So I guess for me it comes down to how much is necessary.

Now, I love clothing shopping.  It’s like my art canvas.  This feels like a huge commitment to actually live this out but already I’m benefiting by this commitment in terms of saving money and time.  I’m also having fun focusing on what I have in my closet and mixing it up in ways I haven’t done before.  I’m sure the longer I’m committed to no shopping the more it will hurt but for now, I’m enjoying the sacrifice because it matches what I’m trying to become all about — My choices as a consumer doesn’t negatively impact any other human being on this planet.

I’m grateful for social justice organizations all around the world which are starting to bring awareness and attention to this problem as well as be part of the solution.  We’re monthly donors to International Justice Missions, an organization committed to helping with the human trafficking issue around the world in many different industries.

I look forward to the fruit I’ll see in both Brogan and Eden as we together learn what it means to choose not only for our desires in mind (what clothing we want) but also have our choices reflect our awareness of others’ desires around the world for a fair living wage and freedom.

Environmental Intention — Part 1


As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I use January for planning and getting a vision for the upcoming year.  One of the intentions, or habits, I set is in the category of caring for the environment and/ or participating in some type of social justice.  This is something we as a family commit to doing for the year.  Sometimes, the habit is integrated into our lives like brushing our teeth and sometimes it’s something that’s just done once or for that year.  We’ve been doing it for about 10 years.

Something to clarify about our intention.  This isn’t a task that feels like we are “doing” something good or adding a great big checkmark for good deeds.  For us, committing to take care of the Earth or defend people who fall victim to a lack of social justice practice, is as natural as taking a bath or brushing our teeth.  It does require discipline and commitment from us, but it doesn’t feel like “doing” because the fruit from our decisions bring us such joy.  In the same way, I don’t feel like brushing my teeth is something I have to do because I could choose to walk around with bad breath and rotting teeth; rather, brushing my teeth is something I happily do because I love the end results — teeth to eat amazing food, a happy husband who isn’t repulsed from my breath, and an ease in which I can socialize with others because I’m not self-conscious about my breath.  I would say, if it feels like something you’re adding to your to do list only to ease guilt about not doing enough or to make you feel better, then maybe it’s not the right time for you to pick an intention of this type.  Again, it is with great joy that we approach this intention, excited to decide what new habit we’re going to develop, knowing with confidence it will impact not just our family but others, some across the globe.

Now, this year’s intention requires a post all its own because I want to share with you some of the habits we’ve done in case you’d like to choose something for you to try.  I haven’t listed these in any particular order.

1.  Eat Fish and seafood only on the sustainable seafood list. We started this habit when we were members at the Long Beach aquarium.  I carried around their consumer guide, which made it very handy to do.  All these years later, I still ask my server about any fish item they have, ordering only those things on the sustainable list.  Here’s a link to find out more.

2 – 3.  No more paper towels.  Nope.  That’s right.  We gave up paper towels and only use paper napkins.  Just kidding!  We gave up all paper hand goods in our house.  Well, except for toilet paper.  🙂 We rarely use paper napkins and use reusable items for anything paper towels could do.  We have a great supply of cloth napkins and towels.  Saves money and the environment!

4.  Bought a no emissions car with alternative fuel.  We own two cars of this sort (Natural Gas Vehicles — bought about 8 years apart) for commuting but still own gas cars for trips because we can’t use alternative fuel for travelling longer distances.  And lest you think I’m perfect, one of them is an SUV.

5.  Decrease water use.  Don’t shower every day.  Few car washes for the purpose of preserving the exterior of the car.  Dump out all left over water glasses in plants rather than down the drain.  Wash faces with cold water rather than wasting water to warm it up.  Baths for the kids are filled only 1/3 high.  My children are not deprived as one mother told me when I said they never got a full bath.  Instead, they’ve created wonderful water play without the need to have a full bath tub.  This is all they’ve known so they wouldn’t even dream of filing the bathtub with unnecessary water.

6.  Used our fruit from the fruit trees.  We had two major producing citrus trees so one year we made sure we gave lots away and didn’t let any go to waste.

7.  Bought all environmentally friendly cleaning products.  We changed out all the cleaning products that have toxins with products from Seventh Generation, Method and Mrs. Meyers.

8.  Eliminated use of all store bags.  We got reusable bags and eventually got a system down so we used and use them regularly.  As many people who are trying to develop this habit say, it’s a process.  You have to take the time to figure out what works for your family because remembering the bags is almost the entire battle to actually successfully accomplishing this task.  (Buying and having the bags is easy!)

IMG_16259.  Beach Clean-ups.  We live in a beach city so one year we committed to cleaning the beach during the major beach clean-up days.  We would also throw away at least one item of trash when we visited the beach.

So that’s our ten year journey of trying to leave as little footprint as we can on this earth.

IMG_3662Up Next — Our Intention for this year.


January Reflections

January is one of my favorite months.  It’s a month where I set aside time to be intentional, to set goals, to plan my year, and to identify what I want this year to be about.  It completely feeds my organizational self and I enjoy the fruit I see each year from setting aside this time.  I will share more about my intentions in later posts.  But for now, here is my month in review via photos, quotes and music.

We were still in Vegas when January started and we enjoyed 40 degree weather with a dip in the heated pool and jacuzzi.

IMG_1708IMG_1773We loved hiking the Red Rocks.  (It was still cold.)

IMG_4174 IMG_4080We ran into this beautiful Friesian Horse, Crue, in a parking lot.  He had just had an audition in the snow for a Michael Bay movie.  What a beauty!

IMG_1792We threw a Kick-Up Dinner for Dennis’ work.  With some help of Shannon and Elisabeth, we created this lovely table.

IMG_1843I love winter sunsets.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

IMG_1848I ended the month with a fabulous date with my favorite under 5-foot guy at a favorite haunt, Grounds, in our old neighbor.

IMG_1853Quotes Worth Remembering:

At times the strength of spiritual community lies in the love of people who refrain from getting caught in the trap of trying to fix everything for us, who pray for us and allow us the pain of our wilderness, our wants, so that we may be more deeply grounded in God.           — Rosemary Dougherty

With silence only as their benediction,

God’s angels come — where in the shadow of great affliction,

The soul sits dumb…

–John Greenleaf Whittier, from a letter to a friend on the death of his sister

“No,” I tell him.  “I don’t want to know anything more than I know now.  No.  I don’t want to know.  I already know too much.”

“I disagree with you there, Annie, Blumenfeld says softly.  “Truths about people are never too much.”                                                                                                                                                                                        — A Shining Affliction, Annie G. Rogers

“What has been wounded in a relationship, must be, after all, healed in a relationship….She left you without ever recognizing you.  That’s not a goodbye, Annie; it’s just leaving…..I feel the largeness of grief, how grief will not let you hide from the awareness of time passing and death, or from life itself, going on in all its unexpected ways.”                                                                                                                                                                                                 — A Shining Affliction, Annie G. Rogers

“When it comes to love, there is room for so much and so many different kinds.  The heart is capable of expanding far beyond what we can ever imagine if only we will allow it….There will always be things greater than we can ever comprehend that can come into our lives at any moment.”                                        — The Cellar, Katherine Lo

“Accepting truth was like removing a Band-Aid: at first it was painful, then it left a red mark and some of that gray sticky gunk that you had to scrape off” (p. 230) ……. “Jesus hung there, staring at me in all His agony, and I suddenly understood something:  Everyone suffered…But it was more than that that.  Sometimes we had to walk through the pain alone.  I looked back at a picture on the wall, the one where a bystander helped Jesus carry the cross.  Sometimes we had others to help us along the way.” (p. 233)

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos

“God is infinitely patient.  He will not push himself into our lives.  He knows the greatest thing he has given us is our freedom.  If we want habitually, even exclusively, to operate from the level of our own reason, he will respectfully keep silent.  We can fill ourselves with our own thoughts, ideas, images, and feelings.  He will not interfere.  But if we invite him with attention, opening the inner spaces with silence, he will speak to our souls, not in words or concepts, but in the mysterious way that Love expresses itself — by presence.”

— M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living

“‘The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.’ (p.11)…Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities — it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true.  It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure, and enriches our most intimate relationships. (p. 17)….Healing, he told us, depends on existential knowledge: You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions. (p. 27)”                                  — B. Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score

Songs on Repeat Mode in January:

Give me a Song by Will Reagan

Set a Fire by Will Reagan

Losing Your Memory by Ryan Star

Ghost by Ella Henderson

Where the Island Ends by Ryan Star

May peace and joy follow you into February.