Category Archives: Green Tips

{CPL Challenge} Goodbye Plastic Bags!

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Sorry, no pretty photos today! Today it’s all about plastic bags…

It just so happens that today is Earth Day and I’m writing a post about plastic bags. I promise I didn’t plan it! For me, every day should be earth day so today being the “official” earth day doesn’t warrant a special post or special action. In fact, I wish people, companies, and the government will spend less energy publicizing that today is earth day and more energy on actually living an earth-friendly life.

Plastic bags have been on my mind a lot lately and I’ve been meaning to launch an official CPL challenge to reduce my (and hopefully your) plastic bag usage. Whenever I know I’m going to make a trip to the grocery store or any store, I take my reusable bags to make sure I don’t bring any plastic bags home with me but on those random, spontaneous trips when I don’t have my trusty reusable bags on hand, I end up walking out of the store with plastic bags in hand to add to the bijillion I already have at home.

Who doesn’t have a pile of these at home?

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I do (sadness). A couple months ago, I dumped a whole bunch in the plastic bag recycling bin at the neighborhood grocery store with a resolve to never have to do that again by never compiling so many plastic bags. Being religious about using my reusable bags for all my shopping needs was my plan. Well, that plan has had a success rate about 50/50 so far. Hence the again growing pile of plastic bags, most of them from those trips when I had forgotten the reusable bags. But even if I don’t bring plastic bags home from the grocery, I’ve noticed they end up finding their way in through other ways, i.e. through people who visit us and bring stuff in plastic bags or through us visiting others and bringing stuff back in them. Things just tend to travel in plastic bags in our society…

But again, I believe small actions can make a big difference when all those small actions accumulate. So!!! Here’s the very first CPL challenge! I challenge you, dear readers, to minimize (and eventually eliminate) your plastic bag pile. If you’re taking me up on my challenge, how you’re going to make that happen is something you might have to think about. In specifics.

For me, I’ve found it’s about working towards changing my habits even more. Apparently, bringing out the reusable bags when I think I need them isn’t enough. I need to cultivate the habit of always leaving some in the trunk of the car and of keeping a small foldable one in my purse at all times (for those spontaneous impulse buys). And not least, be brave enough (and not embarrassed) to tell family and friends “no plastic bags for me, thanks!”

As I’ve been learning, eliminating plastic bags from my life won’t happen overnight. There will be times when I forget and will have to use them to bring groceries back. But rather than guilt tripping myself, I’ll just have to file those moments away towards furthering my resolve and making concrete steps towards my goal. Plastic bags, be gone!

Homemade citrus vinegar cleaner review

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It’s been a while but continuing my last post on green cleaning, here’s an update on the citrus vinegar cleaning solution that I said I was going to make and try out!

Here’s what it looked like after about 3 weeks:

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Method: I strained the orange colored vinegar above and diluted it with water in a 1:1 ratio into an old spray bottle. The quart of vinegar and water filled the spray bottle up and there was about a full cup of the non-diluted solution left.

Color: The clear vinegar started turning yellowish after about a week and ended up a bright orange color. The solution had been sitting on top of my fridge for about 3 weeks when I finally “made” the cleaning solution, aka, diluting it with water. Can it get easier than that?

Smell: Vinegar in its pure form does have quite a potent smell but after being “marinated” in citrus peels for about 3 weeks, the potency was noticeably diminished. While I did get slightly vinegary whiffs when I sprayed out of the bottle, I’m happy to say it smells mostly like citrus and the slight vinegar smell doesn’t really linger and goes away pretty soon after you wipe down whatever you’re cleaning.

Effectiveness: I first tried cleaning the bathroom with this solution and it did everything that my old cleaner did, WITHOUT all the chemical fumes that used to make me cough and my eyes water. The tile floor, the ceramic sink, and faucet were all clean and shiny when I was done. I also tested it in the kitchen, on the carpet, shelves, and floors, all to my satisfaction. I was especially surprised at how easy it was to wipe down my crusty stove after letting the vinegar cleaner sit for about 10 seconds. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and degreaser without the toxicity of the store bought cleaners. Really, what’s the need to overuse chemicals that’ll, in the long run, harm us more than protect us?

Cost: A quart size vinegar bottle at the supermarket costs around $1.50 so for the cost of a couple oranges (which you can eat as a snack after you use the peels to “marinate” the cleaner solution) and about $1.50, you get almost a bottle and a half of cleaner. Saving $$$? No chemicals to inhale?? Yes, please!

If you want a healthier home for the fraction of the cost of a name brand chemical cleaner for most of your household cleaning needs, I definitely recommend trying this cleaner out. I won’t be browsing down the cleaning section of my local Target anytime soon, that’s for sure. There’s tons of other uses for vinegar around the house which I’ll be looking into and sharing with you all. I also bought a huge box of baking soda the other day to experiment with. More green cleaning trials to come!

 

 

DIY dry erase board

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A new DIY today! If you have any old frames lying around that you don’t know know what to do with or scored a cheap frame at a secondhand store, this would be a perfect project for a weekend afternoon.

I have some frames that I found in the hallway of a friend’s apartment a while ago so I’ve been trying to come up with ideas to use them. In their old form, I think they’re pretty ugly. So for one of them I popped the glass and backing out and painted the frame silver and used it as a part of my gallery wall as you can see in this post.

The other day I decided to make a dry erase board with another (since you can never have enough surfaces to write down your to-do list or grocery list, of course). Here’s the step-by-step tutorial.

Materials:
1 can of white primer spray paint
1 can of spray paint in a color of your choice
Newspaper or paper shopping bag to spray on
Patterned paper larger than the size of the frame

1. Remove the glass and backing and wipe down the frame to prep it for paint.

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2. In a well ventilated area, spray on a coat of primer onto the frame and let it dry for about 10-15 minutes.

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3. Spray on the first coat of paint in the color of your choosing. I chose a can of mint colored spray paint that I already had. Let the first coat dry for another 10-15 minutes.

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4. Spray on the second coat and if you really want, a third coat for maximum coverage (let it dry in-between coats!).

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5. After the paint has dried completely, cut your patterned paper into the size of your frame backing. You can glue it onto the backing before you lay it onto the glass but I just laid it against the glass and since the size of the paper is the exact size of the glass and frame backing, I know it won’t budge even without glue. And here’s the final product. Take a dry erase marker and write away!

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Junk mail and PaperKarma

Topic of the day: Junk mail. I know, exciting, right?

Junk mail, which includes retail catalogs, soliciting brochures, and those pesky pre-approved credit card offers, is a huge source of trash and waste. Consider this pile of mail below…

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Out of the 3 inch high stack of mail, 90% of it (or all 3.75 inches of it) is going to end up in my recycling bin. Even though I’m recycling it, can you imagine how much raw resources were used to create these things that we automatically toss without a second thought? And also how much energy and resources have to go into recycling the paper products that didn’t serve any useful function in the first place?

Because I hated the thought of that and I hated sorting through ginormous piles of junk mail just to get to the important stuff, a while ago I started calling companies to PLEASE STOP sending me those stupid, useless, wasteful catalogs, brochures, and credit card offers. First off, even with my initial determination, it got pretty daunting. While some companies have their phone numbers printed on their mail, others didn’t and so I had to go searching on the internet for a phone number to call. Once I had the phone numbers, I had to jump through hoops and numerous automated options just to get a live person on the phone. Then I had to explain to them that I didn’t want their junk mail anymore and a lot of times they asked for customer numbers, name, address, etc, which became a long winded phone conversations. In essence, NO BUENO… After going through the first batch, I lost some steam. It was pretty discouraging that it was that time consuming and inconvenient just to get people to NOT send you stuff. Seriously?

Then I found out about PaperKarma. What a godsend. It’s a free mobile app and basically, all you have to do is take a photo of the “offending piece of mail” and PaperKarma does the leg work for you by contacting the companies and unsubscribing you from their distribution lists. No more time consuming phone calls to make!

Here’s how it works in PaperKarma’s own words:

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In less than 24 hours, out of 34 requests, I had 20 successes, 4 pendings, and 7 fails. The failed requests were my fault though. Being a PaperKarma newbie and despite clear instructions to include the name of the company in the picture, I didn’t and therefore they didn’t know who to go to with the request. So don’t do what I did!

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Less trips to take the recycling out, less mail to sort through, less junk mail produced, less raw materials used, less useless marketing $ spent by the companies, less work for the postal service, I say it’s a win-win-win-win. Definitely try it out!

 

Philadelphia Recycling Do’s and Don’ts

Please forgive my prolonged absence! I’ve been in a funk this past week with all motivation zapped to do anything productive, including blogging. Naturally, I spent the week curled up in bed rereading the Harry Potter series wishing I was a witch and Harry was my best friend. Anyways, I’m (almost) ready to rejoin the real world and be an adult again (of the Muggle kind, sadly…).

A week and a half ago before my hibernation from the real world, I came across Philadelphia’s recycling guide and wanted to share with you all.

I’ve been called a recycling nazi once or twice in my life, but I have to admit, even I get confused on what is recyclable and what is not at times. And each city has differing standards and rules so it can get rather confusing. Broken light bulbs? Styrofoam? Batteries? Pizza boxes with grease? Do they go in the recycling bin or the trash???

I should have done my due diligence sooner but when in doubt, I usually just put it in the recycling rather than the trash. Until recently I finally found THE LIST of Do’s and Don’ts of Philadelphia single stream recycling. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means but it does clear up a lot of confusion on certain things. At least it did for me.

I know plenty of people who don’t recycle for various reasons but for those who do and who kind of care about recycling, hope the list below is kinda sorta enlightening.

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Cara Park Wedding

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I’m realizing that I really enjoy the creative side of events. A huge event where I appointed myself “event designer” was for my own wedding. I started forming a very specific vision in my mind early on and spent months creating details and elements to pull the vision together.

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I loved how everything turned out and it seems like the Knot did too since they featured our wedding in their spring/summer 2014 Real Weddings section :) All the details in the photos were made/designed by me or with the help of amazing bridesmaids/friends!! The flowers were of course in collaboration with my amazing florist, Peicha from Falls Flowers. Photos courtesy of Carina and Amanda of Love Me Do Photography.

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Baby library themed baby shower

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Last weekend, I had the privilege of “organizing” and decorating for a baby shower for some friends (I use the term “organize” loosely here because the parents-to-be made most of the logistical arrangements for the luncheon). They gave me free rein for the decor part so I went to town on Pinterest to brainstorm for some ideas. The one request that the couple had for the shower was for some baby books to start a baby library so I decided to use that as the starting point of my inspiration and the “theme” naturally evolved from there.

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Since most of the guests were bringing baby books for the shower, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into the overall design as a part of the decor. I also mixed in some stuffed animals, some DIY pinwheels, simple DIY banners, and a pair of oversized candlesticks (which I had used at my own wedding). I borrowed a cake stand and a cupcake stand, which another friend baked cupcakes to fill, and voila, came up with the arrangement below. The key for the table decor below was to mix displaying the baby books horizontally, vertically, and forward facing well as getting in some height which I used the candle sticks for. The lighting in the restaurant was pretty bad (and I have yet to master my DSLR) so unfortunately the first photo above was one of the best shots I got of the whole table.

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