Category Archives: Green Tips

Green cleaning

Cleaning. Not my favorite chore in the world. Like I regularly tell my friends and my husband, I’d rather cook than clean and so it works out when I cook for them and they in turn do the dishes. When it comes to household cleaning, I’m guilty of letting dust gather till you can legibly write messages in them. I’ll let the bathroom sink accumulate water spots till the natural shine of the ceramic is dull and hard water stains are clearly noticeable. I’ll let clothes pile up in the closet and not feel the need to organize them for days. Not to say that I’m super dirty and messy. I think I’m naturally a “cleaner” person (you know what I mean when you’ve been around truly messy people) but I don’t take it upon myself to have the kitchen floor polished and scrubbed at all times and the shelves meticulously dust free at all times.

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Story of the toxic shower curtain liner

The shower curtain liner in the CPL household has gotten unbearably gross. I’m sure everyone with a plastic shower liner in the bathroom knows what I’m talking about. After a couple months of usage, the liner always seems to grow gross, brown, moldy spots. Every time I use the shower I think, “next time I’m in the shower I’m going to scrub those spots…” Guess how long it’s been since I first started thinking that? Yup, it’s been a while and I have yet to carry it out.

So when I saw an “Eco Shower Curtain Liner” on sale for $9 while browsing the West Elm website, I skimmed through the description (“An earth-friendly vinyl liner that pairs perfectly with all west elm shower curtains,” “Made of PEVA, a combination of 50% PE and 50% EVA.”) and mindlessly clicked “Add to Cart.”

shower curtain

My initial reaction was, “Yay, an eco-friendly shower curtain liner on sale! I don’t have to scrub the old gross one anymore!” Then my critical thinking side finally set in a couple minutes later. Wait, what am I going to do with the old liner if I replace it solely because I don’t want to clean it? Just toss it in the trash so it can sit in the landfill for eternity? And what the hell is PEVA, PE, and EVA?? The West Elm description says its “vinyl” so that means it’s made of petroleum, which is NOT eco-friendly or “earth-friendly.” If anything, “an earth-friendly vinyl liner” is an oxymoron is what it is. As much as I love West Elm and all the green initiatives they say they are up to, GAWD, I HATE GREENWASHING!!!

“Greenwashing (a compound word modeled on “whitewash”), or “green sheen,” is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims and/or policies are environmentally friendly.”   — Wikipedia

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Banana bread and composting

Continuing the theme of food waste and utilizing deteriorating produce from 2013’s last blog post, I had a pile of bananas that was sitting on top of the fridge for… I wanna say about two weeks? (I know, gross, right?) They had obviously lost their vigor with saggy peels and brown spots all over. Neither my husband nor I are huge banana fans but I buy them occasionally for our smoothies. If you live on the east coast, you know the weather’s been pretty frigid lately so smoothies have not been made in the Yun household of late. Therefore the sad, spotting bananas on top of our fridge :( Usually, we cut em up and freeze them when the bananas reach this point but our poor freezer is at its max capacity so that wasn’t an option either. I knew I was going to have to throw them out if I didn’t act quickly. So the logical conclusion was to make banana bread. I’ve never made banana bread in my life (told you, I’m not a huge banana fan). But faced with the option of throwing the poor bananas away and making something that might actually taste good, I chose the later. I pulled out my trusty KitchenAid mixer and got it going. The recipe is from Annie Dean‘s adorable blog who got it from Smitten Kitchen.

The bananas went into the mixer looking quite pathetic and gross (I really wish I had taken a picture of its sad state but I’m sure you can imagine) but boy did it come out of the oven gloriously reborn. It. was. absolutely. delicious. Here it is in its full glory.

Banana bread-edit

From now on all my sad looking bananas will be going to banana bread heaven rather than ending up in the compost.

Speaking of food waste and compost, I enrolled in a local compost program a couple weeks ago. I had been growing quite sick and tired of the smelly garbage can and of having to take it out when it wasn’t full all the way due to the smell. And since I’ve been cooking often recently, the bulk of the content of our trash has been food scraps and food waste. Combined with the smell issue and the guilt of sending perfectly good potato peels to the landfill, I started contemplating composting. While I’d love to have my own compost pile in my own back yard, city living isn’t quite conducive to such activities, so I started researching local compost programs and discovered Bennett Compost. They provide you with a 5 gallon lidded bin and come by once a week to pick up your week’s food scraps. Continue reading

From a ripple to a (non-trash infested) wave

Recently, I saw an article that made me really mad and made me remember why I wanted to start this blog in the first place… It was an article about sperm whales washing up on shore dead with their stomachs full of plastic and trash. Among the contents commonly found in the intestines of marine mammals include various types of plastic and plastic bags, fishing ropes and nets, and various garbage including the likes of towels, surgical gloves, duct tape, clothes, plastic canisters, and the list goes on. It’s not just marine animals either, it’s all wildlife that is affected by humans creating too much trash and not disposing of it responsibly. Like mama birds feeding their babies plastic pieces because they think it’s food… The full article about plastic/trash and the impact on wildlife here.

I know some people don’t care about any of that. Not everyone cries when the SPCA commercial is on (yeah, that’s me, animal lover). And that’s fine. But this affects us humans too. Do you really want to live in a world that looks like this?

Trash for eternity

Actually, too late, we do. A trash wave in Indonesia, which once was pristine waters.

This isn’t an environmental blog. I’m not pleading for the sperm whales and the polar bears of our generation. I just know that everything I do in my daily life, every choice I make, big or small, has an impact. Even things I didn’t think twice about, like doggy-bagging leftovers in a Styrofoam container at a restaurant or accepting a plastic bag at the drug store for one candy bar. I didn’t really think about those things before; they were just things that were a part of daily life, things that I took for granted. But when I really think about it, I’d rather not make decisions that might lead to sperm whales ingesting the plastic bags or Styrofoam I used one time and threw away. I’d rather think a little bit more about what I do, use, and buy and its consequences.

Yes, there’s more to it than that of course; there’s political, economical, societal, and cultural forces at work that I cannot control. That’s when I get discouraged, when I start dwelling on the things out of my control. But MY life I can do something about. MY habits I can change. MY consumption decisions I can think twice about.

To me, this blog is about being less on auto-pilot of what I’m used to and being more thoughtful of how my everyday decisions make an impact. What it’s not about is depriving myself of what I love. Or judging others for their decisions that don’t align with my own. I love eating out, cooking at home, buying clothes and prettying things, DIY-ing, traveling, and lots of other stuff. I see the potential to still enjoy the things I love but with a thoughtful “twist.” If I consider myself an average American consumer and all 7.1 billion people lived like me in this world, supposedly there needs to be five earths to support all of us. I don’t want to be an average American whose lifestyle requires such a ridiculous amount of resources (most of which Americans take for granted). I’m pretty sure I can be perfectly happy or even more fulfilled and happier by consuming less resources. Less stuff to buy, less clutter, more closet space, more $ to invest in things that really matter such as experiences and relationships.

If you changed one little habit and it had the potential to make the world a cleaner and better place, would you do it? Even if you couldn’t see the results immediately? What if you changed maybe a couple more habits and inspired (inspire, not force!) your close family and friends to do the same and they in turn inspired more people around them? When the ripple becomes a wave, I believe the potential for a cleaner and better world–a world where whales and birds don’t die from ingesting wayward plastic–could turn into reality.