1. How to Clean Silver Jewelry the Natural Way

    Posted on July 31, 2012 by Courtney

    The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post.

    I wear silver jewelry almost exclusively, but it’s a real downer when the oil from my skin tarnishes the metal, leaving it dull and dirty-looking. Recently I realized I hadn’t been wearing a few pieces I own that I really like, and it was just because the tarnish made them less shiny and pretty than they used to be. I knew I could go out and buy some expensive, toxic silver polish to restore my jewelry to its original shininess, but after a little research, I discovered a natural way to get the job done that doesn’t involve toxic chemicals.

    So I did a little experiment using a silver necklace my parents brought back from a trip to Alaska a few years ago. I hadn’t worn the necklace in years because it had turned so dull, but after just 15 minutes or so, it’s just like new again! Here’s how I did it: Read more…

  2. Meatless Mondays – Eggless Salad

    Posted on July 30, 2012 by Allie

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    Only bloggers will understand the odd urge to photograph your lunch before you eat it so you can share with your readers.  Last night, I had a half-brick of tofu left over from dinner, and decided to whip up some eggless salad.  As I was sitting down to eat it just now, I thought, “Oh!  I should write about this,” so I snapped a picture (the light is terrible today, so please excuse the cruddy picture) and here I am writing about my lunch, while it sits on the kitchen table waiting for me.

     

    This isn’t any sort of formal recipe, just something I remember making as a kid.  There is a slight lingering tofu taste, so if you don’t like tofu, you probably won’t love this, but it’s a super easy alternative to egg-salad — no boiling required — and a great way to use up leftover tofu.

    I had the food processor out already, so I dropped the tofu in there to mash it up, but you can use a fork to mash it.  Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of curry powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of dried dill, 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil mayo, and salt and pepper to taste.  You can add other spices like cumin, coriander powder, or basil, if you’d like.  Mix well and serve as you would traditional egg salad. I like to make it the night before, so the tofu has time to really absorb the spices.

    I decided to hollow out the seeds of a tomato from our CSA bag and scoop it in there.  I’ll only eat half of it today, and save the rest for lunch tomorrow, because I probably don’t need to eat half a brick of tofu in one sitting.

    Okay, I’m going to eat lunch now.  :)

  3. Pedal Power to the Rescue

    Posted on July 27, 2012 by Jacob

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    On Monday I became a bike commuter for the very first time, and I can’t say that I was perfectly prepared for it. First, I don’t have anything resembling a roadside repair kit to fix problems with tires or chains on my 10-mile trip to work. I also had never ridden the route I took to work Monday before actually taking it to work. Sue me. I discovered a far superior route option the day before my maiden bike commute and I had to take it. The photo at the top of this post was my original route. It’s also not a very bike-friendly road. Four lanes of traffic, about half of which is log trucks or other tractor-trailers.

     

    I did at least talk to an expert before my maiden bike commute. Jack Sweeney is one of the three guys behind BikeCommuters.com. It’s a site devoted to spreading the word of… Well, if you need me to explain that one to you, maybe you shouldn’t ride your bike to work. You also definitely shouldn’t be driving a car anywhere. It should be obvious. What may not be so obvious is one of the biggest pieces of advice that Sweeney gave me. You don’t have to get fancy to be a bike commuter.

    “One of the common misconceptions of bike commuting is that all sorts of special equipment is needed — that’s a fallacy. While many long-distance commuters will be more comfortable in cycling-specific clothing, the vast majority of potential commuters live within 5 or 6 miles of their workplaces. Because of that, nothing special is required — simply get on your bike and ride!”

    If you choose specialized bike clothing for longer rides (in addition to their other benefits, bike shorts are heavily padded in the important areas), you can always take your work clothes with you in a bag. While I’ve just biked in a quick-drying athletic shirt and gym shorts instead of special cycling gear, I’ve packed the day’s clothes away in my backpack.

    The bikes themselves don’t even have to be special in any way despite being reliable and well-maintained. If you live in a hilly area you probably want something with gears unless you enjoy suffering, but honestly, my mom’s beach cruiser is probably even better suited to commuting than my road bike. Hers has fenders to keep the mud and grime from getting kicked onto her clothes and a rack over the back tire to help haul her stuff around. I’m just not enough of a man to ride to work on a floral-themed bicycle.

    And don’t let being a little out of shape be an excuse not to try this. I’m easily 15 pounds overweight and I have the upper body of a professional cyclist without the giant quads. I have been riding a lot this spring, but my first ride was in no way difficult. It was just slower. True, after my first 10 miles on the bike back in March, my butt was sore for three days, but my body has grown so accustomed to the saddle now that a 20-mile ride leaves my posterior no more uncomfortable than it would have been had I stayed home. Besides, if you’re out of shape now, imagine what getting several miles on the bike a day just as part of your commute will do for you. Read this post from one guy who used the bike to change his health if you need a more concrete example of what I mean.

    Sweeney gave me tons more tips (some that I couldn’t or didn’t have time to take advantage of before my first ride) and I’ve collected those below in list form if you decide to try this for yourself. Read more…

  4. Seed Saving

    Posted on July 26, 2012 by Howling Hill

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    One bonuses of participating in any CSA is the availability and access to seeds that are not genetically modified or altered. Thus, I have been seeding some of the bounty from my CSA. So far I have two types of tomato (above), yellow watermelon, honeydew melon, and a couple different types of squash and peppers. All were locally and organically grown here in New Hampshire. I also have all the seeds I ordered earlier this year but didn’t plant because of The Move to Boston.

    Seeding the vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to preserve harvests, genetic diversity, and to save some money.

    To seed a vegetable isn’t particularly difficult. Most times all one has to do is put seeds aside — making sure each seed is devoid of any vegetable matter — when cutting one open. Tomatoes, however, can pose a particular challenge for first time seeders. It took me a while to learn the process. I share it with you my fellow Greenists because I’m awesome (and contrite =)

    First, cut open the tomato(es) and scoop out the seeds. Pull as much of the goo away from the seeds as possible. Then take the seeds and put them in a glass jar (plastic would work but then you get the plastic chemicals leeching problem…) with some water. Let the seeds sit in the sun for a week or two until the goo pulls away from the seeds and the seeds sink to the bottom. Go ahead and agitate the jar on occasion. Once the seeds have separated from the goo, carefully pour out the water and place the seeds on a towel to dry out. Once dry, put them in a bag for the next year after labeling the seeds. If you have more than one variety you are seeding this is very important unless you like surprises.

    Knowing Wolf and I are moving from our beloved Howling Hill to the urban jungle makes my soul cringe. I am not a city person but I will adapt as I have to other changes. I am, after all, human. And humans adapt. And so do plants. We all adapt quite well, actually. I assume that’s why we (plants, animals, and everything else) are alive today: because we adapted to the changes and made the best of present conditions. To bring part of my CSA with me is a comfort. To know I can grow some of the lushness of the food I ate this summer is a fantastic way to bring Howling Hill to Boston. It connects me to the land, connects me to Mother Earth, and connects me to the CSA.

    On a completely unrelated note, our well went dry. Follow our waterless journey at Howling Hill.

  5. Eco-Friendly Dusting, the Second Most Natural Way I Know How

    Posted on July 25, 2012 by Stefanie

    The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post.

    My last year of college, I lived with two roommates in a surprisingly spotless off-campus apartment. Rather, it was surprisingly spotless when we moved in. (We looked for housing a bit late in the prior school year, and given that it was slim pickings at that point, we felt lucky just to find a place where we weren’t afraid to walk around with our shoes off indoors.) It was well into first semester before it apparently dawned on any of us that in order to keep the place looking as clean as when we moved in, we would have to, you know, clean it. We were all in our early 20s, grown adults who had presumably dusted a shelf or swept the floor in our dorm rooms at some point prior to our off-campus living arrangement and who had undoubtedly been tasked with cleaning portions of our parents’ homes for any number of years prior to that. And yet, somehow it hadn’t occurred to even one of us to develop any sort of proper cleaning regimen or to purchase any cleaning supplies.

    My roommate Erin was the first to acknowledge it. “Are your rooms getting dusty?” she asked. “How do you guys dust?” I think I spoke up first. “Um, sometimes I just blow the dust off my dresser.” We turned to our other roommate, Linda. “I turn on my fan,” she said. It’s a good thing we weren’t required to prove we were fully functional, self-sufficient adults before we got our diplomas, because clearly we had a ways to go. Read more…

  6. Thinking Outside the Moving Box

    Posted on July 24, 2012 by The Modern Gal

    The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post.
    moving

    I’ve been in the middle of moving into a new old house, of which you’ll probably hear a lot about here since I’ll be blogging about being green at home. It’s been a slow move with the intent of giving myself time to purge all the unneeded clutter in my home. But the urge to purge often means you end up just tossing a lot of that unwanted stuff in the trash.

    I’ve been trying my darndest not to send anything extra to the landfill during this move. It’s required some thinking outside the moving box, so I wanted to share with you some of the tips I’ve discovered.

    Read more…

  7. Meatless Mondays – Mixing Bowl Salad

    Posted on July 23, 2012 by Allie

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    444px-lettuce_iceberg_variety.jpg

    Meat-Free Monday doesn’t have to involve a fancy recipe or a lot of work.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just have a simple, throw together meal.  Back in my single days, my favorite easy meal was what I called mixing bowl salad.

    Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like — a salad so big that it’s made and served in a mixing bowl.

    Mixing bowl salad varies depending on mood, and the contents of the fridge, but (in addition to lettuce) can include any combo of the following:

    • roasted red peppers
    • fresh peppers
    • tomatoes
    • avocados
    • left over veggies, quinoa or rice
    • olives
    • walnuts
    • slivered almonds
    • the broken bits from the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips
    • crumbled hard boiled egg
    • cheese
    • sun dried tomatoes
    • dried cranberries
    • sunflower seeds
    • beans

    My favorite dressing combo is some oil and vinegar mixed with a little sea salt, pepper, and tons of oregano.

    The point is to make a salad that you can totally pig out on.  I promise, you won’t miss the meat.

  8. Beer Review: Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew

    Posted on July 20, 2012 by Jacob

    The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post.

    Image credit: thebeernut.blogspot.com

    I should warn you, my being new to the Greenists and all, that I am a beer geek. I see a Guinness and think “light beer.” (It’s actually lower in alcohol and calories than Budweiser.) I’ve taken notes on every single new beer I’ve ever tasted.  I once spent a week working in the brew house of a brewpub for free just so I could see what it was like.

    That being said, I’m not a jerk, so I’m not going to belittle your beer choices. Heck, I even accept my uncle’s offers of Miller High Life on occasion. Just because I like the finer ales in life doesn’t mean I have to be an antisocial blowhard about it. I’m also going to refrain from beer geek speak in this review. Honestly, a lot of beer geek jargon, like the phrasing you see in wine reviews, comes across sounding like gibberish to almost everyone outside of a small subculture of people.

    Okay, enough of the warnings and explanations. The beer is Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew. The brewery describes this as being 100 percent organic, meaning every ingredient and all of every ingredient was organic. From what I’ve gleaned from some of the brewers I’ve talked to, this is actually a big deal as a beer is actually allowed to be labeled “organic” even when not all of the ingredients are organic. This originally was intended to make allowances for the fact that organic ingredients for beer were not always easy to come by, although according to several brewers I’ve talked to, the selection is quickly increasing and the quality is rather good.

    When I was assigned this review (Greenists Julie and Courtney are friends of mine and aware of my obsessive-compulsive love of craft beer), I was pretty sure that what I was going to taste was going to be decent, at least. Fuller’s, from an American perspective anyway, is British beer, and unlike their cuisine, the Brits are known for being able to brew up a tasty beer. Honey Dew did not disappoint.

    The Honey Dew is a golden ale, the lightest (in flavor and color) beer style outside of pale lagers like Budweiser and European Pilsners. They’re also lower in bitterness and easy drinkers. This beer definitely lives up to that standard. This is going to be richer than your typical American-style lager (although it’s exactly the same in alcoholic strength) but I don’t think anyone who can handle a Newcastle Brown or Budweiser American Ale is going to have the slightest bit of trouble knocking back a Honey Dew. In most honey ales I’ve had there’s a slight honey to the aroma and maybe a little sweetness in the flavor, but that’s usually it. The Honey Dew, on the other hand, really shows off the Argentinean honey in the aroma and the flavor. Honestly, there are moments when it seems like I’m drinking a mead, a traditional alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey mixed with water. Honestly, because there are some similarities in flavor between meads and wines, there’s a chance that people who are more comfortable with wine than beer could use this as a crossover beverage. Just don’t forget that in the end that this is first and foremost a beer.

    Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew is expected to hit the shelves sometime this month and is has a suggested price range of $3.49 and $4.49. That’s a little pricier than the average beer, but, like other Fuller’s products, it will be in 16.9 oz. bottles instead of the standard 12 oz. bottles that are standard in American breweries.

  9. Urban Heat Islands: What Are They, and What Can You Do About Them?

    Posted on July 19, 2012 by Jamison

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    If you live in the concrete and asphalt jungles of the United States, you’ve probably gotten used to the concept of heat islands without even realizing it. Cities are warmer than the surrounding countryside. When you live in the city, you probably don’t even realize that just a few miles away, the temperature is probably 5 degrees or so cooler. Cities absorb more of the heat of the sun than the surrounding areas and, as a result, retain that heat for longer. Of course this starts a nasty loop of a warmer city requiring more air conditioning, which is more inefficient because the city itself is just so hot. The question becomes: How do we get ourselves out of the mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into?

    As with all sorts of environmental issues, the short answer is always stop doing the same things that we did that got us into this mess in the first place. Asphalt is a double-edged sword on the best of days. It’s not good for the environment to begin with, and once it’s there, it stabs us again by absorbing too much heat from the sun. Before you think this is just a problem for the city folks of the planet, take a long moment and look at your own roof. If your house was built to the standards of most homes in the United States, you’ll find that you have a nice coating of asphalt covering your roof to protect it. So most of us are all in the same sinking boat of oil dependence together on one front. Basically we are trapped in an oven, which is our own homes. So how do we get out of it?

    Solutions to the problems are relatively simple. Asphalt is naturally a very dark color, giving it a very low Albedo (reflection coefficient) so instead of reflecting light (which includes energy in the infrared spectrum) it absorbs it instead. To give you a frame of reference, a square of fresh asphalt, compared to a square of grass, will absorb 6 times or more heat energy, leading to the five extra degrees of temperature change we discussed earlier.

    In an ideal world, you’d have a patch of grass on your roof instead of asphalt, and we call that choice the green roof movement. With this, people create an ecosystem on their roof so they can avoid the heat caused by the darker surface area, which also allows them to absorb water more efficiently to avoid some of the toxic runoff from their asphalt roof systems. It’s a good choice and usually it’s done with large roof systems on bigger buildings. At the more practical level for most of us is the move to much lighter colored roofs or replacing asphalt altogether and going to recycled aluminum roof systems instead. These systems can approach the same reflectivity as the green roofs while not requiring the kind of maintenance that the green roof might require.

    Cities are also taking these approaches. They are changing the color of the asphalt and seeing a major change in temperature related to such structures. Some cities have started to change their building codes to make it so that people have to use these heat cutting choices in hopes of one day breaking the Urban Heat Islands completely. Researchers have begun to suggest that the decrease in the requirements of electricity alone would have a much greater effect on carbon dioxide levels that are required to meet the demands caused by these heat islands — it would be one of the most significant things that could be done. The lighter versions of the asphalt also improve safety because it reflects your car lights better, allowing you to see further at night and giving you more reaction time on the roads themselves. Not to mention the heat related deaths that occur each year in cities because of the urban heat island effect.

    Combine these bonuses along with new kinds of bioasphalt, which allow us to finally take oil out of the equation, and there is definitely some great hope for the future. And new nano-materials that will allow the asphalt to turn dark in the winter and light in the summer heat. So what can you do when it comes time to look at your roof? Think about saving yourself by breaking the heat island for yourself and everyone around you.

  10. To Air is Human

    Posted on July 18, 2012 by Mickey

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    fan 032

    While walking through our apartment complex this morning coming back from a meeting, I made a point of counting all the open windows I saw. It was easy: zero. And no, I wasn’t casing the joint, making notes about which units contained flat-screen TVs and would be easiest to break into (for which reason I’ll exclude all the bottom-floor dwellers from the following discussion.) My interest instead was a result of the perfect open-window weather, 70 and sunny. This is the time of year in this part of the country to air things out, after the pollen has fallen and before the melting heat of summer sets in. Nighttime temperatures have been in the 60s, with daytime highs in the low 80s, and there’s no better time to save some money on your utility bill, which is why it irks me a bit to hear the air conditioners rattling away as I type this.

    It may be true that a programmable thermostat is a great way to save energy, but we shouldn’t forsake logic for the “set it and forget it” mentality (apologies to Ronco.) If you can get your pleasantly cool air straight from the atmosphere around you rather than forcing it through the energy-hogging middleman of the AC, then you should. Open a window and put up a fan. Better still, open windows on two or more sides and let a breeze blow through. I realize that most people are not going to sweat it out like me just to prove a point (especially here in Hotlanta) but surely we can all try and tough it out with no AC in the benign month of May.

    Which brings me to another point: Why, in Atlanta, Georgia of all places, do we build dwellings with windows only on one side that open only from the bottom with no regard to the orientation of the building in relation to the sun? The answer, of course, is air conditioning. Before the advent of AC, homes in warm climes were built with high ceilings, large, abundant windows, and big, friendly porches, the better to take advantage of a passing breeze. Trees were left standing for shade, especially along the south side, and tea was iced. The tea is still iced around here (and instant-cavity sweet) but someone like me is forced to get pretty creative when trying to keep a cave-like apartment cool in the summer, sans AC.

    I realize most people are not going to tough it out when the mercury starts climbing,  growing more determined as the pool of their own salty sweat expands around them, but for those of you who want to give it a try or at least get by with the thermostat set as high as you dare, I posted some tips on this site for staying comfortable in the heat a while back. And if you have any of your own that you’d like to share, let’s see them in the comments.

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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