1. Back to School: Reusable Bags

    Posted on August 31, 2009 by NPW


    Ah, school days. Hands down, the best part about going back to school every year is,  stocking up on new school supplies. Even now, as a thirty year old librarian, the look of freshly sharpened pencils and crisp, clean notebook paper gives me shivers of anticipation. It’s fall! It’s time to learn things! And we are going to do it in style.

    Read more…

  2. Crocheting a Coral Reef

    Posted on August 28, 2009 by Allie

  3. Rags Are Rad

    Posted on August 27, 2009 by Stefanie


    What I’ve always liked about Allie’s Answers (now The Greenists, of course) is its focus on the little things that, cumulatively, can make a big difference. Some of my favorite tips are the simplest ones, the ones so obvious that it almost seems they wouldn’t even bear mentioning. This is one of those tips. I warn you in advance that it is not rocket science. (I am not a rocket scientist.) No, it is just a very small thing I do that probably lots of you already do, too. And yet, nearly every time I mention it to someone, I hear, “That’s a good idea!” in return. So. Rocket science it is not. But a valid tip it may be. 

    What’s the tip? Using rags as napkins.

    Read more…

  4. Not So Fast, Fido — Those Food Scraps Have Other Plans

    Posted on August 26, 2009 by Courtney

    food scraps

    Remember when you were a kid, and you’d get in trouble for not eating all of your dinner because your mom said there were starving children in Africa who would love to have that food? Well, all you moms out there can relax a little about uneaten leftovers — food scraps are getting new life as energy.

    Read more…

  5. New Uses For a Worn-Out Bikini

    Posted on August 25, 2009 by Rachel

    new uses for a worn-out bikini

    September is only days away, and despite the high temperatures we’ve been experiencing here on the east coast, my guess is that I’m very close to packing away my bathing suits until next summer. Given the deteriorating state of a few of my bathing suits, I’ve been wondering how I might be able to recycle them rather than toss them out.

    As someone hoping to limit my environmental impact, I had considered purchasing a more eco-friendly bathing suit this spring; however, after unpacking my summer clothes last May, I realized that my two bikinis were in good enough condition to survive a few more trips to the beach. Despite my desire for a new suit, I decided to put off the eco-friendly swim-wear research for next year and make due with the two suits I already had.

    I do my best to buy swim suits that are interchangeable: meaning that I buy two-pieces that are all black (or almost all black) so that when one piece wears out, I have another top or bottom I can throw on to replace to worn-out piece without having to go out and buy a full 2-piece set. While this method has been working for me for a number of summers, I’m not so certain what to do with the worn-out bikini bottoms I no longer need. It doesn’t seem likely that anyone is going to buy a bikini bottom from GoodWill when the matching top is not provided.

    Most bathing suits are made of synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon and Lycra (a.k.a. spandex). While these materials are comfortable to wear, maintain their shape despite their elasticity, and are quick-drying, they also have short life-spans: Chlorine and other pool chemicals are harsh on Lycra; rough surfaces, like cement decks, can break the fabric fibers, creating a “piled” look and leaving swim suits looking older than they are; and washing machines and suntan lotions can cause damage to the fabric over time. Unfortunately, the texture and look of most of these materials make them a bit more difficult to recycle into something new. While I’m sure there is someone out there sewing a quilt out of bathing suit scraps, I’d like to think there are some simpler ways to recycle these materials without too much hassle.

    A quick search online lead me to a few interesting uses for old swimsuits:

    The Green Life recommends layering old suits when training for competitive swimming: the double-layers create extra drag you might not feel when swimming with only one suit when competing.

    Recycle This suggests making bean bag toys or stress balls out of old bathing suit material, or wrapping soap with old suits for slippery little hands that tend to drop things in the tub. For a one-piece bathing suit, sew up the leg holes on one end of the suit and hang the straps over the outdoor clothesline: a summer clothespin bag.

    Finally, if you’re a collector of vintage swimwear, or if you think your old trunks might be worth framing, considering displaying them for others to enjoy.

    What ideas do you have for recycling old swimming suits?

  6. What’s Going On

    Posted on by Allie


    The Good Human wants us to take time to see the world around us.

    Earth First has photos of amazing, eco-friendly homes.

    Dianne makes ratatouille.

    Crunchy Chicken talks about “local washing.”

    Inhabitat discusses carbon negative hemp bricks that are stronger than concrete.

    Green Grounded talks about Sigg, BPA, and the wrong way to handle a PR nightmare.

  7. Save Those Broken Crayons!

    Posted on August 24, 2009 by Melissa

    Colin 1
    Last Spring, as school was winding down and teachers enthusiastically high-fived each other while packing up for the summer, I noticed something in the hallway trash cans. Handful after handful of broken, used, and stubby crayons were being thrown away by both students and staff. I made a mental note to myself, “Figure out how to use old crayons at school to prevent so much waste,” then continued on with my own high-fiving summer packing.

    A few months have gone by since then and I have to admit, broken crayons have not crossed my mind all summer. But, when the realization hit me last week that school was starting, oh, how about TODAY, I decided that it was time to do something with my son’s broken crayons that I had been saving.


    I decided to make new crayons – a simple concept – one of the 3 Rs! I began looking online for ideas and directions and came across all sorts of websites that directed readers to pour the melted wax into plastic candy molds so that the crayons would end up shaped like Sponge Bob or Hannah Montana. “Great idea!” I thought to myself, as I imagined years of giving really fun crayons to children at birthday parties, or using them as classroom party favors in lieu of cupcakes (promoting recycling and combating tooth decay!).

    However, I then realized that since I have never made molded candy before, I didn’t own any plastic candy molds. Was it really green for me to go out and buy new ones? I decided that I would use a muffin tin and an old ice cube tray to make the crayons so that no new purchases would have to be made. Read more…

  8. Dingo Does The Earth Thing

    Posted on August 21, 2009 by Dingo


    “Is this the screening for —”? I began to ask the polyester-vested line attendant. He cut me off with a snippy, “Yes. Where’s your pass?”

    Pass? I asked myself. What pass? Allie didn’t say anything about a pass! Oh, crap. The line was already seventy-five people long and growing like Octomom in her last trimester. I was pleasantly surprised that the screening for Robert Stone’s Earth Day: The Seeds of a Revolution was receiving such a large turn-out. I was also worried that the film’s popularity made my chances of talking my way into the screening about as thin as the ice left on the Arctic sea. I didn’t relish having to email Allie to tell her that I missed the screening because I had forgotten my pass.

    Now, I’m not one to judge — well, I sometimes judge, but not without a very good reason — but the crowd zealously grasping their passes did not look quite like a group clamoring to see a film about Earth Day. The tourists were clearly identifiable by their newly minted Yankees baseball caps and cheap I Heart NY t-shirts. The locals shuffled through the line avoiding eye contact as they tweeted, texted, and dialed. The line just didn’t have a “Hooray for the Earth!” vibe.

    I tried again, “Excuse me sir, is this the screening for Earth Day?”

    “Earth Day?” he responded, squinching his face into a disdainful question mark with a dot at the bottom and all. “What’s that? No, this is the screening for The Time Traveler’s Wife.” The crowd nervously backed away from me as if I would lunge for the coveted passes in their hands. I probably would have, too. I know I could’ve knocked one of the giggling Gossip Girl fashionistas off her BCBG Wedges and grabbed her pass but I’d promised Allie that I would attend the environmentally friendly screening. So, I’d like everyone to remember my sacrifice if I’m ever accused of not doing enough for the environment.

    I walked a few blocks east and found The Core Club where the film was being shown. I thought The Core Club, an exclusive, pricey, members-only club, was an interesting venue for a screening about the rise of a grass roots movement. Wine, water, and mojitos were offered in slim minimalist glassware. No paper cups or bottled water in sight. In fact, many of the attendees brought their own eco-friendly aluminum water bottles. You should get one or you, too, may curse the day you missed the opportunity to fill an aluminum flask with free mojitos. I bought a 32-ouncer. Read more…

  9. A plastic fantastic mess

    Posted on August 20, 2009 by A Free Man


    Courtney’s post on the proposed plastic bag surcharge in Seattle got me thinking about these ubiquiotous flimsy ‘flags of the consumer era’. Here in South Australia, a total ban on light weight plastic shopping bags was enacted back in May. It has been, in large part, a popular measure and these days nearly everyone in the city center can be seen carrying around reusable canvas shopping bags as well as their briefcases and backpacks. Anecdotally, there seems to have been a notable reduction in the amount of plastic bags strewn all over our fair state – certainly the biggest bonus of the ban.

    But I’m The Greenists science guy and thus tasked not with telling happy stories of litter free Australian countryside, but with breaking down the facts. So, I wanted to take a look at the science surrounding consumer packaging. Are these bags as bad for the environment as we think? Are they really clogging our waterways and choking wildlife? What is the most environmentally beneficial alternative? Read more…

  10. Herbs: The Natural Solution to Pesticides

    Posted on August 19, 2009 by Courtney


    If you have a garden, then I am jealous of you. My current living situation isn’t conducive to keeping a garden, but believe you me, I can’t wait for the day when I can make a salad made entirely of veggies from my own backyard. We plug the benefits of local produce a lot on this site, and it doesn’t get much more local than your own yard.

    If you keep an organic garden, no doubt you’ve been tempted to run out and buy some pesticide spray when the bugs just become too big a problem to handle. But since we also don’t like to introduce unnecessary chemicals into the soil (and, later, our bodies), how can you make sure your tomatoes will grow big and strong without a hungry bug getting to enjoy them before you do? There’s good news on that front — scientific findings presented recently at a meeting of the American Chemical Society confirm that common herbs and spices can be instrumental in fighting off pests.

    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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