Posted on July 31, 2012
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…
Posted on July 27, 2012
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…
Posted on July 26, 2012
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.
Posted on July 3, 2012
The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post!
I have often boiled down my love of the American west to one sentence: I need a big backyard. Of course, in my case this has nothing to do with any sort of desire for a lavish hot tub-waterfall-swimming pool combo or my own personal putting green. The backyard I refer to are the millions of acres of public lands that make up the western US. Nothing less will do. Read more…
Posted on June 27, 2012
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jason.
Charitable car donation is a great way to help the environment by recycling your unwanted vehicles while simultaneously helping local charities and receiving a tax write off. The way it works is that a local non-profit car donation center will arrange to have your unwanted vehicle (running or not) picked up at no cost to you, recycled, and then donate the proceeds to a local charity. Read more…
Posted on June 13, 2012
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Daniela.
Environmental Protection Agency statistics from 2010 show Americans composted and recycled over 85 million tons of trash. That’s a lot of trash, but it’s not even half of the more than 250 million tons that were generated in 2010. Perhaps more Americans don’t recycle and compost simply because they don’t know much about it, especially composting.
If you’ve been thinking of starting to compost but suspect it’s too hard or requires too much space and time, you might be surprised. Here are six of the most common myths about composting that often turn people away from this simple, rewarding way to go green. Read more…
Posted on March 22, 2012
Image source: The Nature Conservancy
Do you know how much water you use every day?
I’m not just talking about the water you use to drink, take showers, wash dishes, and do laundry. I’m talking about the amount of water it takes to produce the things you buy. For example, did you know that it takes more than 30 gallons of water to produce just one cup of coffee? 49 gallons for one bag of chips? 400 gallons for a cotton T-shirt?
751,777 gallons. That’s how much water you, I, and every American goes through every year. That’s not a collective number — that’s how much water we each use. Is your mind boggling? Mine is. Just take a look at this infographic presented by The Nature Conservancy — many of these stats may surprise you!
The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the Water Footprint Network to bring awareness to World Water Day, which is today. It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of fresh water for the people and animals that need it worldwide, and something needs to be done about it. The health and well-being of our planet is fundamentally rooted in the availability of fresh water.
So what can you do to celebrate World Water Day? Take some tips from The Nature Conservancy and learn how you can curb your own water usage. It may seem like a drop in the bucket — pun intended — but collectively, it can make a real difference. Here are some tips I learned:
- It takes more water to manufacture processed foods, so stick to fresh food whenever possible. There are so many reasons to do this, water conservation being just one of them.
- Avoid plastic utensils. It takes 24 gallons of water to create 1 pound of plastic, not to mention the environmental cost of disposing of something after just one use.
- Water your lawn or garden in the morning or evening. Water evaporates slower during these times of the day, which means it takes less water to keep your plants hydrated.
- Even electricity uses water. Unplug your chargers and other electronics when not in use; a day of typical electronic use in an American household uses 4-5 gallons of water.
Are you surprised to learn how much water we use every year? How will you cut down on your water usage?
Posted on March 7, 2012
Please welcome today’s guest poster, James Madeiros.
One of the biggest roadblocks to water conservation is the perception that it will cost money, either in actual dollars or as a matter of time invested. The truth, however, is that there are several ways to save water without spending much of either.
Some of the best water-saving ideas are a matter of changing habits and increasing knowledge rather than spending money. Even better, saving water often leads to saving money, making what little effort that is involved doubly worthwhile.
Listed below are five ways you can conserve water at little or no cost to you. Read more…
Posted on February 22, 2012
It happens to every Greenist from time to time: You arrive at the grocery store to do some shopping, take a look at the stuff in your cart, and realize: You forgot your reusable bags. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. Sometimes the bags are in the trunk of my car and I just need to dash out and get them; other times I’ve left them at home, which means it’s time to admit defeat and let the bagger put my stuff in those forsaken plastic grocery bags.
Of course you know that you can recycle those plastic bags — most grocery stores have recycling bins out front to collect them. I also reuse them to line the small trash cans around my home. But if you’re looking for other ways to reuse your stash of plastic bags, here are a few ideas: Read more…
Posted on February 21, 2012
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jessica Arinella, creator/writer/producer of the What You Can Do series.
My friends know that I suffer from something I refer to as ISD — or Impending Sense of Doom. You may recognize this feeling of hopelessness when you see an image of a polar bear hanging off the edge of a rapidly melting iceberg. With so many concerns from hunger to ocean pollution, it’s hard to know how to make a positive impact on our world. And one critical challenge that really gets my ISD going is water conservation.
While our planet is covered in water, only one percent of it is suitable for human use. Some experts even believe that water could become as scarce as oil in the not-so-distant future. And the EPA estimates by 2013, 36 of the 50 states could be facing water shortages.
The good news is there are many easy ways to save water. As I believe action is the only cure for ISD, I created a project called What You Can Do, a series of 60-second videos to show how to help our world’s most important issues. Below are some of our favorite ideas and episodes on water conservation: Read more…