1. Brew Your Own

    Posted on February 28, 2011 by Jacob

    This weekend featured my first brew day in almost a year. I’ve been brewing my own beer now for about eight years and it’s a hobby I really enjoy, although I can’t figure out why I took so long between beers. I ran out of my last beers several months ago and where I live, it’s really hard to find decent beer if I don’t make it myself.

    This post is appropriate for a green blog simply because homebrewing is innately green in some ways. You have full control over your ingredients and there is a growing selection of organic malts and hops on the market now. You can even grow some of the ingredients on your own if that’s your thing, although you’ll probably leave the malting up to the professionals. Also, you’re making the beer where it will be consumed, so the whole food miles thing is taken care of. However, there are a few things you can do (and avoid doing) to make your brewing process a little greener. A quick word of warning. This post isn’t for someone looking to start brewing unless they’ve already read up on the basics of the craft. Instead, this is aimed more at people with a little experience looking to make their hobby a little more energy-efficient.  Read more…

  2. Taza Chocolate Mexicano

    Posted on February 25, 2011 by Allie

    Yes, I bought this chocolate for no better reason than that it’s round.  Admit it, you would too.  It was an impulse buy.  The paper wrapped disks on display at the counter where I bought lunch last week caught my eye.  The fact that the wrapper had the word chocolate on it, right when I happened to be craving chocolate totally sold it for me.

    After I bought three disks of Taza Chocolate Mexicano (Yes, three.  Don’t judge), I was thrilled to learn what a great company makes them.  And after J and I managed to consume all three disks of chocolate last weekend while being completely gluttonous doing very serious taste testing, I can pretty safely say that Taza Chocolate Mexican is my new chocolate obsession.

    We tried the Yerba Mate, Cacao Puro, and Salted Almond bars, and they were all amazing, but the Yerba Mate was my favorite.

    From Taza:

    “We make Yerba Mate Chocolate Mexicano with our signature stone ground chocolate and a hint of unsmoked Yerba Mate powder. Usually consumed as a tea-like beverage, Yerba Mate is hugely popular across South America. We source our Yerba Mate from the Kraus Family farm in Argentina with the help of EcoTeas. Yerba Mate Chocolate Mexicano is smooth and grassy, with notes of green tea on the finish. And it’s very stimulating.”

    I love dark chocolate, but much like strong coffee, there’s a balance that needs to be there.  Taza chocolate is perfectly balanced.  It’s full-bodied and rich, without being bitter or overpowering, and doesn’t have a sour aftertaste.  The stone grinding process creates a wonderful, almost gritty, texture that is incredibly addictive  appealing.

    Plus, Taza chocolates are made with concern for environmental and community sustainability.

    About Taza:

    “Alex and cofounder Larry Slotnick decided early on that they wanted to start a company with a conscience. Taza Chocolate would be sustainable – not just financially but environmentally, and community-focused. After considering models in use in the coffee field and analyzing the current state of the chocolate industry, Alex and Larry set to work on a business plan. Their company, Taza Chocolate, would produce 100% stone ground, organic chocolate using only the best ingredients while compensating growers fairly for their work.”

    And the fact that there’s no calorie info on the package has totally got to mean there’s no calories in the chocolate, right?  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

  3. caCAO! caCAO! Mulberry, Mulberry!

    Posted on February 24, 2011 by Mickey

    I’m always a little conflicted about the idea of writing a product review, especially if it’s an unsolicited product dropped at my doorstep by the UPS guy rather than something I’ve sought out on my own. But receiving free stuff in the mail is the curse of the Greenist, and I suppose I shall bear it.

    The other day, after a barrage of knocks that far exceeded all norms of accepted knockdom, Mr. UPS passed me a box containing a small assortment of items from Navitas Naturals, a California company specializing in “organic and wild-crafted functional foods.” The key here, at least to me, is the word “functional,” which seems to indicate that their product lineup isn’t just knocking off existing food-like products using organic ingredients. Good thing, too, because I’m really not too interested in yet another version of organic cheese puffs because I’m not eating them no matter what they’re made of. I prefer to stick to consuming things recognizable as food, and so apparently do the folks at Navitas. Actually, most of the things they sell look more like ingredients than products because they are minimally processed with no unnatural additives. Read more…

  4. Smoothing the Peaks: How Wind Power is Made Less Choppy

    Posted on February 23, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Adana.

    Image credit: Herbert Proepper/AP

    Energy independence has long been a necessity, not an eco-lifestyle choice, for many communities scattered across the continental U.S. Frontiers are what have made America the country it is today, and for many Americans, living on that boundless margin is what defines the American way of life. But just because you’re living the life of the frontiers doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy the civilized benefits of a fully electrified lifestyle. That’s why harnessing the winds has been a preoccupation of many Americans for decades, well before sustainable energy started looming on the horizon.

    For those living off-grid, the solution to a smoothly corralled voltage came courtesy of a solid chunk of lead batteries — once a little imagination got together with the automobile battery and the windmill. That long history of wind power makes the old idea, that wind power can never amount to a serious energy alternative, somewhat toothless. The wind may be fickle, but the steady harnessing of it for the homestead is, in fact, old news.

    However, the advantages of getting a little wind in your life is now real big news, for those wanting to reduce their impact on the world around them. With the conscientious casting around for ways to cut back on their carbon emissions, home-generated wind power offers a comparatively simple way to jump-start the process. And unlike solar power, you don’t have to live under a Californian sun to get your own renewable revolution kick-started.  Read more…

  5. Human Fat as Fuel?

    Posted on February 22, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Suzzane DeLeon.

    Bio-diesel remains one of the most lucrative green fuel options available today. Of the many purposed systems for refining bio-diesel they almost always universally use plant-based oils. Often overlooked is the use of animal fats to make bio-diesel, specifically human fat harvested from liposuction.

    In the news of today’s obesity epidemic, much has been made of how to get rid of the fat harvested from abdomen liposuction. But what if that fat could be donated or even collected on an annual basis to make fuel to power cars and trucks? The technology is there; it actually has been in place for many years. Early on in the bio-diesel process, animal fat use acquired a bad name due to some shady practices by its proponents. Now that the technology has been refined, it is possible to use animal fat to derive fuel.

    Another positive aspect of this technology is that it does not use or even remotely compete with virgin resources (such as corn, etc.) that could be used as foodstuffs for humans. In fact most of the animal (including fat from medical procedure liposuction) is a waste product today.  Read more…

  6. What Kind of Environmentalist Are You?

    Posted on February 21, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    On the surface this may seem like a silly question, but the motivations that leads a person to environmentalism can be extremely different. My wife and I are perfect examples of this. Being a Greenist, she comes to environmentalism from an extremely different approach.

    Environmentalism is a natural outgrowth of her genuine concern for human beings and animal life on the planet. She works on the problem with the same sorts of motherly instincts I’ve seen her apply to my daughter as she’s teaching her. Calm and understanding, always willing to lend a hand to the cause while at the same time always looking for a way to help others along to the path to a better life. While I deeply respect the work she does and the approach she takes, I have to say most of the time it leaves me dumbfounded.

    I spent years getting a degree in Sociology and studying how people work as a society. Those years of reducing human beings to nice warm fuzzy numbers sort of left me more than a tiny bit cynical about human nature and human potential. Which makes my approach to environmentalism completely different. I don’t spend too much time worrying about the fates of the cute fluffy animals of the world. I worry more about the genetic diversity required to sustain human life and evolutionary potential. I don’t lose sleep over how to feed the geometrically growing human population, but instead focus on how to stop the geometric growth part of the equation. I’m a strong believer that environmentalism is critical for protecting the nation as a whole. It has slowly become woven into my own form of hyper-patriotism. I’m an environmentalist because at the core of my DNA, I believe that humanity must survive into the future and environmentalism is the only way I can see that occurring. For me it’s just an equation and formula that needs to be executed to save the species and I want to make sure that happens.  Read more…

  7. What’s Going On

    Posted on February 18, 2011 by Allie

    Photo: Merida Home

    Merida Home is doing a great green rug giveaway!

    Planet Dog has launched a new blog.

    Tiny Choices has some eco-friendlier solutions for de-icing walkways.

    Ennovationz is a new site designed to help you find energy savings and rebates to save money when you go green.

    The Good Human reviews Slow is Beautiful.

    Petite Planet attempts to do nothing.  Can you?

  8. Plants: They’re More Than Just Pretty!

    Posted on February 17, 2011 by Stefanie

    As a general rule, plants of any kind tend to become unmotivated underachievers in my presence, and hence, I tend not to keep many of them around. I thought my horticultural ineptitude was my own little secret, but the last time a friend gave me a plant as a gift, he handed it over with an accompanying Last Will & Testament, so it seems the secret’s out.

    Despite my poor track record with all things green and rooted in soil, however, I actually do want more plants in my home. I have this nagging feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be the only thing alive in this house (aside from the centipedes in the basement and the yogurt in the fridge, I mean). And I also can’t help wondering if the sustained proper care of a houseplant may be an important gateway to adulthood that I haven’t yet fully crossed. How can I ever expect to have a successful long-term relationship with another human if I can’t even master one with a plant?

    As it turns out, there are some other good reasons to keep more plants around, too. We all know from grade school science that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but did you know that plants actually absorb common toxins from indoor air as well? Scientists at NASA have been researching ways to clean the atmosphere in space stations to keep them safe for humans over extended time periods, and they found that lots of common houseplants can effectively absorb benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene in particular. They effectively scrub harmful gases right out of the air, and absorb other pollutants and render them harmless in the plant’s soil. (You can read more about this here, if you’re so inclined.)

    Read more…

  9. Posh (Faux) Pelts

    Posted on February 16, 2011 by NPW

    Okay, so apparently I’m in some kind of animal print obsession phase right now, but please bear with me. (Get it? Bear with me? Ha! I kill me.)

    Ahem. Anyway, last month I posted about vegan designers Matt & Nat and the fabulous Santogold bag I got for Christmas. It has a sweet tiger print and it makes me feel pretty punk rock to carry the bag around. While perusing other vegan websites I came across Posh Pelts, a company that sells faux fur throw blankets and pillows in all different animal prints and colors.

    You guys. I am in love. So much so that I ordered the faux black bear throw blanket so that I can have something classy to throw over my couch rather than my ratty blue Snuggie. They also sell faux Arctic fox, ocelot, lynx, and rabbit, and they are lovely.

    Plus, a percentage of all their sales go to World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization that “offers material, emotional, social and spiritual support to 100 million people in 99 countries. World Vision also provides humanitarian aid to the Asia earthquake/tsunami disaster with a special focus on children and vulnerable populations”.

    And also: they’re machine-washable. Which is important, with the amount of coffee and wine I drink on my couch.

  10. Product Review: Clementine Natural Art Products

    Posted on February 15, 2011 by Melissa

    About one month ago, my son, Owen (age 1), found a stray purple crayon hitching a ride in a toy dump truck. Being a typical 1 year old, he removed the crayon and decided to taste it. He babbled, turned around and shared a big goofy smile, teeth freckled with purple wax, chin and lips streaked with dye. Horrified, I grabbed the crayon and stared at it (probably just like the girl in this classic Sesame Street Episode). Whew! Non-toxic. 

    Non-toxic. That’s a good word, right? Especially when it is typed on a product that children regularly play with. It’s even a better word when it is combined with the words all natural.  Enter Clementine Natural Art Products: All Natural, Certified Non-Toxic and Environmentally Friendly.

    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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