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Sustainability Pledges (cont.)

 I pledge to put my groceries into a reusable bag at the supermarket

Did you pick up a reusable grocery bag at Green Port Fest? Keep it in your car and remember to bring it into the market when you shop. Plastic grocery bags are a big problem when they get into the ocean. When they in the water, they look like food to many types of animals. They can float into the mouths of whales and other filter feeders. Birds often get tangled up in them. By not using disposable bags, you ensure that they won't accidentally get into the environment. See http://www.cawrecycles.org/issues/plastic_campaign/plastic_bags.

 I pledge to walk, bike, carpool, or bus to my destination at least once a month

Taking alternative transportation to school or work may be the most difficult pledge for most people, but the benefits — to yourself and the environment — can be enormous. When you walk or bike, you not only give yourself a workout, but you see things along your route that you never noticed before. Riding the bus or carpooling reduces stress, cuts your greenhouse gas emissions, saves you money, and you might even meet a new friend! There are several free ride-share registries on the Internet that help connect people with others going their way. Here are just a few:


  I pledge to give a used book or magazine to someone who hasn't read it

Before tossing that magazine into the recycling bin, find out if any friends or coworkers would like to share it. Books are easy to recirculate: libraries are happy to take used books if they're clean and in reasonably good condition (non-fiction should be current). In Long Beach, you can take used books to any branch. Your donation is even tax deductible. Call your local library if you need more information.

 I pledge to turn off my computer off at night or when it's not in use

The Port calculated that it would save more than $20,000 each year in electricity costs, eliminating 150,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, if all employees at the Administration Building turn off their computers and monitors after work and during the weekend. Just think of how much greenhouse gas would be reduced if everyone did that!

 I pledge to give a potted plant instead of cut flowers for Valentine's Day

The majority of cut flowers come from South America, traveling thousands of miles to get to your florist. Chances are a potted plant was grown closer and it might also be an appropriate species to plant outdoors after its flowers have faded. Whether you use cut flowers or potted plants, ask your florist whether it was grown in California, or look for VeriFlora® certified sustainably grown (http://www.veriflora.com) or Fair Trade Certified™ (http://www.fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/flowers-plants) products.

 I pledge to wear warmer clothes in my house during the winter

Keep your socks on. Swap shorts for sweatpants. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and experiment with lowering it in 1-degree increments to see what you and your family can tolerate. Wear a soft, comfortable cap in the house — your mother was right when she told you that your body heat escapes from your head. Keeping your thermostat down saves you money, uses less fossil fuel, and avoids greenhouse gas emissions.

I pledge to have my drinks in reusable cups as often as possible

The number of plastic water bottles thrown away by Americans averages more than 150 per person per year! That doesn't even count other drinks. If we all drank water out of reusable cups instead, that would eliminate more than one billion bottles each year. Because there is still some controversy about chemicals leaching from plastic over time, be sure your beverage containers are made of PET (recycling code #1) or plastics with recycling codes 2, 4, and 5, http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/green-guide/bottled-water/, or use ceramic or glass.

I pledge to grow something that I can eat this year

Talk about "eating local!" What could be more local than your backyard or your friend's backyard or your grandma's backyard? How about your school yard? In addition to learning about the growing cycle, saving food transport and processing energy, and having control over what chemicals come into contact with your food, growing it yourself ensures that you can pick it at the height of ripeness.

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