1. Greenists to Funky Pits: Bring It.

    Posted on February 23, 2012 by Mickey

    If there’s one thing that gets a Greenist’s attention, it’s armpit talk. Do a search on this site for “deodorant” and you’ll get 20 posts that at least mention the word, most featuring intimate details.

    Let’s make it 21. Blackjack!

    The brave quest for inoffensive yet chemical-free and environmentally sound underarms almost seems like a right of passage for folks who already take their own bags to the supermarket and carry a reusable water bottle and are looking for the next step. But when it comes to B.O. as opposed to, say, shampoo or toothpaste, many people draw the line. I’ve gotten the sense over the years that there are a lot of people out there making their own yogurt and raising chickens in suburban coops yet steadfastly refusing to forgo the toxic cocktail they smear in their pits, because a hippie is one thing, but a smelly hippie is a whole different level of commitment and ostracism. Read more…

  2. Soap, Clean the World, and You

    Posted on January 25, 2012 by Courtney

    Image: care2.com

    From the files of Totally Mundane Things That are Secretly Kind of Amazing, let’s talk about soap. Soap is awesome, right? I like using it, and I appreciate it when others use it. The benefits of soap far outweigh the tiny cost of buying it. I am firmly pro-soap.

    But seriously, soap saves lives, too. According to Clean the World, a charity that provides personal hygiene products to people in homeless shelters and developing countries, every 10 seconds a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented with — you guessed it — soap. And think about how much of the stuff we just throw away. Every time you stay in a hotel, you use only a tiny bit of the soap they provide you in your room. Instead of throwing it out, hotels donate this slightly used soap to Clean the World, where it’s put to good use. It’s a green cause to support because it keeps waste out of landfills in addition to helping people.

    Sounds good, right? And you can contribute soap too, even if you don’t own a hotel. Here’s how:   Read more…

  3. How Do You Solve a Problem Like an Old Yoga Mat?

    Posted on January 19, 2012 by Stefanie

    Image credit: madame.furie

    When I signed up for my first yoga class over ten years ago, mat shopping didn’t offer nearly the variety it does today. Plenty of stores sold yoga mats, but I had exactly two choices: solid blue or solid purple. I chose blue, and I’ve tried to remain completely happy with it even as yoga exploded in popularity and the yoga mat industry exploded to match. Sure, I wanted something new and prettier, but I had a hard time justifying ditching my still-perfectly-usable old blue mat just because something fancier caught my eye.

    The past few summers I’ve spent a lot of time in outdoor yoga classes, however—in parks, on bar rooftop patios, and even in parking lots—and as a result, my mat is looking legitimately worse for wear. I could probably try harder to clean it (Yoga Journal recommends adding a few drops of dish soap to two cups of water and rubbing that solution onto your mat with a rag or sponge), but that wouldn’t do anything for the nicks and cuts in the surface. So I went ahead and added a pretty pink flowered yoga mat to my Christmas list this year.

    My new mat is great, and I’d like to keep it that way for a while, so I’m calling that one my indoor mat, and when the temperature consistently rises above 30 again and my yoga practice moves back outside next summer, I’ll still take my old blue mat, now dubbed my outdoor mat, with me.

    What if you’re less of a pack rat and more of a free spirit about dirtying new stuff, however, and you just want to get rid of your old mat instead? Well, in that case, you actually have lots of options.

    Read more…

  4. Barefooting and Environmentalism

    Posted on October 13, 2011 by Jody

    After a brief track and field career in High School, I developed a perception of myself that included the idea that I was a runner.

    After the distractions of college and a career, though, I came to a startling realization:  I could no longer run.

    It wasn’t that age or injury had caught up to me, it was just that I was no longer finding the time to run.  And without finding the time, what used to be a simple two mile run became impossible- in fact, a simple half mile run was equally as impossible.

    So after my husband took up running and finished his first marathon with me on the sidelines, I decided it was finally time to make that perception of myself a reality.  I started running again.

    I had my own grand plans of running a marathon myself one day, but I knew I needed to start smaller and decided to aim for a 10K instead (6.2 miles).    During my track and field days, 2 miles was the longest distance I had ever trained for.  So after months of many, many small runs, I was finally able to build myself back up to a 2 mile distance.  I was incredibly proud of this accomplishment and was looking forward to continued success with a 10k race.

    But almost as soon as I surpassed two miles, I started to hit trouble.  My knees hurt.  In fact, they burned.  My knees would swell after every single run and I would take ibuprofen to counteract the swelling.  I saw my doctor.  I bought new shoes.  I started seeing a chiropractor.  Nothing helped.   Then my stomach started bothering me from the amount of ibuprofen I was taking.

    I suffered through my first 10K race, crossed the finish line, and told myself I wasn’t a runner and promised myself I would never run again.

    After the initial despair faded, I found myself still hoping for a cure and my chiropractor suggested orthotics- the idea being that the arches in my feet had collapsed and were causing my knee pain.  He was right in that wearing othotics while running made the knee pain go away.  Only problem was I was in even more pain every second of the day I wasn’t wearing the orthotics.

    I hated being so reliant on a ridiculous little device and rejected the idea that this particular issue was beyond the healing ability of the human body.

    So I turned to the internet and found barefooting.

    The theory behind barefooting is that there are small, intrinsic muscles in your feet that help stabilize your foundation (and strengthen your arches) that are not exercised when encased in a shoe.  Barefoot proponents also theorize that fewer injuries occur while barefooting, partially due to the stronger muscle foundation in your foot which helps with balance, but also because barefooters land lighter and keep better form due to sensory feedback from the foot- all of which helps prevent stress injuries.

    So what does this have to do with environmentalism?

    Well, if you haven’t read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, I highly suggest it.  Not only does running barefoot support a faith in the human body and its incredible capabilities, but it also suggests running shoes are the result of corporate marketers who first created a problem by telling people to run incorrectly, but then solved the problem with their cleverly placed product.  And after the initial success, running shoe manufacturers created ‘labs’ that then provided the medical information for the budding profession of podiatry and, of course, the conclusions suggested the need for shoes.

    Unnecessary consumption not enough of a reason?

    Well, there’s also the connection to the ground, the sense of the seasons, and a meditative awareness that also comes from being fully aware of your foot in contact with the ground.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    But in case you haven’t noticed, the picture at the top of this post isn’t truly barefoot- but a popular “minimalist” shoe instead.  And, more specifically, those are my feet- doing a small hike of the Grand Canyon weeks before I completed my first marathon.

    And although one day I would like to take the leap towards true barefooting and eliminate running shoes from my life entirely, for now the “minimalist” shoes are a step in the right direction for me and possibly the environment as well.  Not only do these shoes use less material than standard running shoes, they also need to be replaced far less often (mine lasted 2 years while training for a marathon while my husband went though 3 pairs of standard running shoes).  And when they do finally need to be replaced, it isn’t due to an unseen issue like “the cushioning has worn out despite the fact that the shoe looks brand new” like you see in most thick soled running shoes.  Nope, these shoes only need to be replaced once you see your foot poking through to the pavement… and even then replacement is merely a suggestion.

    Happy Running!

  5. E-cycling bike share program

    Posted on September 20, 2011 by The Modern Gal

    I live near the University of Tennessee, and like many college campuses, UT is one that’s very car-centric. Sure, lots of younger students live on campus in the dorms, but many others live a short drive away from school and don’t take advantage of our city’s public transit. It doesn’t help that Knoxville is nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and attempting to bike those hills (and in the Southern heat and humidity, no less) often does not make for a fun outcome.

    But like any great college campus, UT is doing its part to change the culture and integrate more green practices into everyday campus life. Currently the university is testing out a first-of-its-kind electric bike sharing program that I think has real potential to catch on. The program is somewhat similar to bike-rental programs in large cities, but instead of just renting a bike, a student uses their college ID to check out an electrically charged battery from an automated system that plugs into the bike. The bike works like a regular bike requiring the rider to pedal, but the electric charge kicks in to power a small motor when pedaling gets more difficult, say when you’re riding one of the massive hills on campus.

    Read more…

  6. Go Green, Then Get a Good Night’s Sleep

    Posted on August 15, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Joel Mark.

    We all know about the benefits of living a green lifestyle for the environment, the economy and our families, but few people realize that getting good nights sleep is also an essential part of an eco-friendly life.

    What’s green about good sleep?

    Living an eco-friendly lifestyle requires energy and a healthy body. To make sure you have the energy to walk or cycle and not drive a carbon-emitting vehicle, you need to be well-rested. If you’ve spent the night tossing and turning, you probably won’t want to walk to the local bus stop or ride your bike to get groceries, but when you’ve had a restful night’s sleep, these healthy green activities are appealing and enjoyable.  Read more…

  7. Hubway: Bicycle Sharing in Boston

    Posted on July 28, 2011 by Howling Hill

    Image from Boston Biker

    Last week I was walking out of South Station on my way to the temp assignment I’ve been working at for the last few months. Three young men were standing on bikes handing out leaflets for Hubway. I didn’t have time to chat with the young men so I grabbed the flyer and walked away. Read more…

  8. I Sleep with a Badger

    Posted on June 9, 2011 by Stefanie

    Out of the blue at brunch last week, a friend of mine asked, “Do you ever have trouble sleeping?” I wasn’t sure where she was going with it initially, but my answer was, “Why, yes! Yes, I DO have trouble sleeping, more than occasionally.” Not in the early morning hours, mind you. I’m a champ at dozing comfortably through those. But at night, when I’m supposed to fall asleep so I can be well rested enough to get out of bed in those aforementioned early morning hours? Ah, therein lies the tricky part.

    It turns out my friend was asking because she’d recently found a natural, non-pharmaceutical sleep aid that’s worked wonders for her, but I used the question as a chance to tell her about my favorite get-to-sleep product as well. Hers was jasmine oil, recommended by the friendly folks at our local co-op. Mine is Badger Sleep Balm.

    I’ve been an admirer of Badger’s operations for a while now. They’re a friendly, family-run, environmentally minded business, and they donate 10% of their profits to worthy non-profit organizations. They also make a wide variety of fantastic products, including a good friend of mine’s favorite lip balm (and Allie’s too!) and a sunscreen that their fans on Facebook can’t stop raving about. They also make soaps, body oils, and massage oils, and they make a soothing skin balm for nearly any trouble that ails you. Which is where, of course, their Sleep Balm comes in.

    Read more…

  9. If Boxed Wine Can Do It, So Can Liquid Detergent

    Posted on May 19, 2011 by Mickey

    Recently, Seventh Generation emailed to ask if I’d like to try out some laundry detergent. My initial reaction: BO-RING. For starters, I’ve used Seventh Generation detergent before, and I found it perfectly fine, which is about all I can say for any laundry detergent. Dirty clothes go in the washer, clean clothes come out, and nowhere in the process do I get terribly excited. I’m just glad when my clothes no longer smell like a Yeti in a sweat lodge.

    But then I noticed Seventh Generation’s new angle: Much like wine in a box, the Natural 4x Laundry Detergent comes in a plastic pouch surrounded by a rigid paper carton, except Seventh Generation being Seventh Generation, the carton is made of 100% recycled fiber. They partnered with Ecologic Brands, a company dedicated to producing “packaging the earth can live with,” and  Read more…

  10. Local Eating – The Coffee Connection

    Posted on May 3, 2011 by Deborah

    graphic from EatLocal.net

    A few weeks ago I posted here on The Greenists site about my plan to take the 100 Mile Diet Challenge in July 2011. I thought it would be a breeze. After all, I live in a rural area with a fine farmers market, I grow my own veggies and raise chickens, and several small farms in my area offer CSAs. I was sure that the only thing on my Exception List would be coffee, that all-important part of a well-balanced meal.

    This post is my confession of ignorance. Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


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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