Green Manolo » Simplicity

Archive for the 'Simplicity' Category

Word of the Day: Greenwashing

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
By Christa

In Monday’s post, I briefly touched on how easy it is to shop green but it deserves more than a mention. I can buy everything from organic k-cups to bamboo end tables to fair trade blouses right on Amazon, not to mention in lots and lots of shops. Buying earth-friendly and worker-friendly stuff is pretty easy these days, even if a fair trade or organic label often comes with a higher price tag.

Or is it easier?

There’s obviously nothing wrong with shopping thoughtfully or choosing not to put certain chemicals on or in your body, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with buying the things you need or want. But if you’re going to be paying a premium for a product because it claims to be green or at the very least greener, it’s a good idea to look into whether it’s actually as green as it says it is.

That’s where greenwashing comes in. A lot of products are advertised as being environmentally-friendly or sustainable or ethical because that sells almost as well as sex these days, but plenty of those products are no better for the planet or for people than anything else. Here are some great examples from Wikipedia:

  • The Comcast ecobill has the slogan of “PaperLESSisMORE” but Comcast uses large amounts of paper for direct marketing.
  • Kimberly Clark’s claim of “Pure and Natural” diapers in green packaging, with the same petrochemical gel on the inside.
  • The Poland Spring ecoshape bottle is touted as “A little natural does a lot of good”, although 80% of beverage containers go to the landfill.
  • The Airbus A380 airliner is described as “A better environment inside and out” even though air travel has a high negative environment cost.
  • Coal is now advertised as a clean, eco option.

My guess? You already know all about greenwashing, but I still thought it was a good idea to toss a little reminder at you. It’s just too easy these days to get swayed by people and companies making all kinds of claims about how their products are better for the planet or better for people. Particularly when the argument seems so logical or you have so many options that things start to get confusing.

Take, for example, home espresso machines, which are often advertised as a greener option than a trip to the coffee shop. Sounds plausible, no? But coffee shops buy in bulk, often use organic fair trade beans, can sometimes return packaging to suppliers, and may use real dishware, plus their overall energy impact is spread over many, many customers. So DIY espresso with a big machine is cheaper in the long run, but not necessarily greener.

But wait! What about espresso makers that don’t use electricity, like the AeroPress or your basic stovetop espresso maker? Then there’s the Presso Espresso, which is apparently entirely recyclable. Wouldn’t one of the those be the truly greenest option – if perhaps the tiniest bit more labor intensive? And so on – you get the idea.

So what examples of greenwashing have you encountered lately?

Green Window Cleaner: 4 Eco- and Wallet-Friendly Window Cleaner Recipes

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
By Christa

Blue and purple window cleaner sprays do work a treat, but they’re not exactly full of the sorts of things you’d want to soak your hands in for any length of time. And most of the squeaky clean folks I know aren’t willing to pay double for certified eco-friendly window cleaners. So what’s a green-minded clean freak to do? Make their own window cleaner, of course.

Unlike making one’s own detergent – which usually requires things like Borax and washing soda that not everyone has on hand – homemade window cleaner is made from stuff you more than likely already have in your kitchen and bathroom cupboards.

I know some people are suspicious of homemade cleansers, but as someone who’s made their own green window cleaner from scratch for years, it works just as well as the blue stuff – and not just on windows! We use it for countertops and sinks and just about everywhere you might think of using an all-purpose cleaner. The only downside? Use too much vinegar, as you might end up with visitors asking if you’ve been cooking sauerkraut. For real, my brother did just that. Small price to pay, I think, and the vinegar smell doesn’t last long.

Here are some recipes that have worked for me in the past – personally, these days, I just eyeball it and hope for the best. A method that, I should add, hasn’t let me down yet.

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp mild liquid castile soap or detergent
2 cups of water

1 gallon warm water
1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup water
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol

1 gallon water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup vinegar
squirt liquid dish detergent

For all, just put everything into a spray bottle and shake it up.

These green window cleaner recipes are just recommendations – you can adjust all of the proportions until you hit on something that works for you. Unless, that is, you’re not as comfy as me eyeballing homemade green cleansers or following recipes you found online. In that case, let me recommend a trio of great books on the subject of green cleaning:

Green Clean, Green Housekeeping, and Nontoxic Housecleaning are all great how-to books that will help you reduce or eliminate your use of chemical cleansers, rid your home of toxic substances, and improve your indoor air quality while making sure your home stays squeaky clean.

How Green Is Too Green?

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
By Christa

For those who don’t immediately know what they were looking at, those are Sckoon Organics washable menstrual pads. Yes, you read that right. Washable, reusable menstrual pads. Think cloth diapers for the grownup lady set, but sleeker and prettier (most of the time).

I’ll admit that I have no issues with cloth diapers (especially BumGenius one-size, which we use with our daughter) but I still get a little squicked out by washable menstrual pads. Isn’t that weird? I know that women use approximately 11,000-13,000 pads or tampons between the pre-teen and menopausal years, and all those feminine products are ending up somewhere. In landfills? Wherever sewage ends up? Logically, my anti-pad stance makes no sense, but I guess reusable menstrual pads are my eco threshold.

What’s yours?

Maybe it’s using your gray water to hydrate your plants? Slapping skull-and-crossbones bumper stickers on every car you pass as you make your way to work using pedal power? Bringing your own local and organic snacks to every birthday party your kids attend? Driving a grease car? Taking fewer showers? Using humanure? It could be anything – it’s just that place you do not want to go.

If you’re not sure where your eco threshold is, imagine how green you’d have to before your joie de vivre would all but disappear in the face of your ever-expanding environmental consciousness. Would taking your current already pretty green lifestyle to the next level make you profoundly unhappy? Or do you still have a ways to go before you reach your peak of green?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
Copyright © 2004-2009; Manolo the Shoeblogger, All Rights Reserved

  • Recent Comments: