1. Solar Cells to Power Your Life

    Posted on December 30, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Allen Green.

    Image: http://gadgetsin.com/portable-solar-charger-integrated-4-port-usb-hub-and-flashlight.htm

    I’m a huge fan of technology. It doesn’t matter what type of technology; it’s the fact that brilliant people come up with faster, better and easier ways to improve our lives, especially when it involves green energy.

    With so much buzz about going green, survival options and clean energy, I wanted to take a closer look at portable solar-powered gadgets. I was fascinated by what I found and it posed a question:

    Can tiny, portable solar cells change your life?  Read more…

  2. Best of The Greenists Week — 2011′s Most Popular Giveaways

    Posted on December 29, 2011 by Courtney

    Our readers sure do love a good giveaway. And why not? We give away some great stuff! We love passing along products that can green up your lifestyle, and we hope to have many more for you in the future.

    Here are the most popular giveaways we held in 2011, by page view:

    1. SheaMoisture Organic Raw Shea Butter products

    2. Planet Shoes and Patagonia teamed up with The Greenists to give away a free pair of shoes

    3. Planet Dog gave away 10 free Orbee-Tuff bones for dog owners

    4. Surya Brasil gave away a free hair care product

    5. Nellie’s Dryerballs gave away a free set of dryerballs

    Even if you didn’t win anything from us this year, keep trying! We appreciate everyone who enters!

  3. Best of The Greenists Week – Our Favorite 2011 Posts

    Posted on December 28, 2011 by Allie

    It’s always fun to look back at the posts we’ve written in the past year.  Here are a few of our favorites!

    Stefanie – Cleaning Your Burner Bowls the Easy on the Arms Way – “I’ve written enough posts about natural cleaning methods that I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore when the simplest of solutions is actually an effective one. And yet? I still find myself now and then trying a new, non-toxic way to clean something and saying, “Holy cow. That actually WORKED!”

    Melissa – Green Guilt: Just Let it Go – “Last night, I threw out a glass spaghetti sauce jar. The day before that, I bought two new Pack & Play sheets (buy one, get one – plus I had a 20% off coupon) without checking Craigslist first. Last week when I went grocery shopping, I didn’t buy any organic food AND I bought generic Dawn instead of my usual Seventh Generation. Oh, and I’m currently using Tide instead of a natural brand of laundry detergent. Are you shocked yet? Gasping for air and shouting to yourself, “And you call yourself a Greenist?” Well, I do call myself a Greenist…and yes, I’m experiencing a lot of green guilt right now – that feeling of I know I can do better. I know I can do more. But allow me to explain . . . It came down to money.”

    Howling Hill – Miss the Train - ”Not having a car in NYC isn’t a big deal. There’s lots of public transportation to get you to and from work and you walk to your local grocer to buy groceries and take a cab to see your grandma. You don’t think much about the lack of car while booking your trip to New Hampshire after all, you can take the train. Right?  Wrong. There is no way to get from NYC to Dorchester, NH via train. As a matter of fact, you cannot get to New Hampshire from anywhere via train because there are no trains in NH.”

    Courtney - How to Clean Your Car Headlights the Natural Way - “The last time I visited my parents, I pulled into the driveway and my dad immediately said, “What’s wrong with your headlights?” I got out to take a look, and sure enough, they were filthy. But it wasn’t just dirt that was causing the plastic casing around the headlights to turn cloudy; it was all kinds of road grime and other gunk that was making my lights not shine as brightly as they should. (Apparently it’s pretty common. Chalk that up to car maintenance issues I’d never considered before!) A simple car wash wasn’t going to fix the problem, so I started looking for possible solutions.”

    Allie – An Interview with Ayla Kell of Make It or Break It - “To be completely honest, I’ve gotten a little jaded by celebrity greenies.  Sometimes the token gestures they put forth into the green world feel more like a way to get good PR than a genuine effort.  But I wanted to chat with Ayla because I love her on Make It Or Break It and I thought it would be fun to talk with her.  I figured I’d be able to walk away with at least a few PR friendly-tips to pass on to readers, and I could slip in a TV-geek question or two for good measure.  But Ayla doesn’t spew sound bites.  Her interest in conservation and the environment is genuine and passionate.  She actually taught me a thing or two about going green.  It was refreshing and inspiring to talk with her. ”

    Jody – Barefooting and Environmentalism – “ 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.”

    Jacob – Death to Your Lawn!- “I hate yard work. This is not the normal hate that you feel toward a food you don’t like or a type of music that represents a group of people with which you don’t identify. I hate yard work with a seething rage that churns out ill will and bad thoughts with an efficiency to match that of some machine that’s really good at making something.  Unlike my brain with that simile, obviously.”

    NPW – Planet Shoes – “ I’m all for companies providing environmentally-friendly products, but I don’t mess around about shoes. I have high standards and my shoes need to meet certain criteria. These flats do all that, plus have the added bonus of drawing compliments from everyone middle school students to my mom.”

    Mickey – Less is Less - “Here at The Greenists we’ve been trying to come up with one thing, just one perfect thing, one big important-yet-elegantly-simple thing to ask our readers to do on Earth Day, for Earth Day. Which is Friday. Tomorrow. Well I thought of my thing, and I don’t think it needs to wait until tomorrow. Or maybe I just don’t like to give away post ideas. Here’s my one big Earth Day request: Use less.”

    Deborah – Are You a Green Sinner? – “My son recently mentioned that he finds all this environmental awareness activity amusing. He remembers when the other kids made fun of him because his family recycled. “They thought we were weird.” In just a few years, we Greenies have gone from being on-the-fringe treehuggers to being the most guilt-ridden members of society. Why? Because now that everyone is doing it, we feel as if we never do enough.”

    The Modern Gal – Are TOMS Shoes All They’re Cracked Up to Be? – “For $54 a pair, I expect my shoes to last far longer than two weeks, and how green can they be and how useful are they to children in developing countries if they’re falling apart that quickly? I did what I do anytime I have questions like this, I turned to The Google to see if others had asked and answered similar questions. What I found were mixed reactions.”

    Ashley S – Staying Green While Moving - “Moving is typically synonymous with filling several dumpsters worth of things you don’t want to take with you and sending it all to a landfill — but it doesn’t have to be.”

    Jamison – What Kind of Environmentalist Are You? -  ”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.

  4. Best of The Greenists Week — 2011′s Most Commented Posts

    Posted on December 27, 2011 by Courtney

    Like all bloggers, we love it when you leave feedback on our posts. Whether you agree or disagree with the post, whether you have a useful green tip to add or just want to weigh in on how you can use the information we give you, we appreciate it every time you leave us a comment!

    Here are the posts that got the most comments in 2011:

    1. SheaMoisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Lotion (and a Giveaway!) with a whopping 157 comments, by Courtney

    2. Free Shoes? Maybe. Read On with 38 comments, by Mickey

    3. Planet Dog Giveaway! with 22 comments, by Allie

    4. Surya Brasil Review (and Yes, Giveaway!) with 19 comments, by Stefanie

    5. Local Eating — the Coffee Connection with 15 comments, by Deborah

    I guess it’s no surprise that most of these are giveaways! We hope to have many more of these for you in 2012.

    And just for fun, let’s take a look at our most commented posts of all time!

    1. Allie’s post from 2008, Make Your Own Kitty Litter, still reigns supreme with an amazing 202 comments and counting!

    2. SheaMoisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Lotion (and a Giveaway!) comes in second, with 157 comments

    3. Another Allie post from 2008, My Dog’s Microchip May Have Given Him Cancer, has 40 comments

    4. This one from 2009 — Help Me Choose an Eco-Friendly Mattress — has 38 comments

    5. Free Shoes? Maybe. Read On ties with the mattress post, with 38 comments.

    Thanks again for all your feedback! We love our readers!

  5. Best of The Greenists Week – 2011′s Most Popular Posts

    Posted on December 26, 2011 by Allie

    This has been a great year for The Greenists.  We had 187,823 absolute unique visitors this year, and we appreciate every single one of you!  Thank you so much for reading, for sharing your experiences, and for taking small steps toward making life a little greener.  This week, we’ll be taking a look back at our best posts from 2011.

    Today, we’re taking a look at the posts that got the most page views for 2011.

    1. How to Clean Your Car Headlights the Natural Way by Courtney
    2. What to Do With Old T-Shirts by Jody
    3. Make Your Own Daily Shower Spray (a.k.a. keep your shower clean the cheap and lazy way) by Stefanie
    4. Are TOMS Shoes All They’re Cracked Up to Be by The Modern Gal
    5. How to Make Your Own Home Spa Products by guest poster, Bailey Harris
    Stay tuned this week to find out which posts got the most comments, which posts were our favorite, which giveaways got the most entries, and get a chance to enter a new giveaway!


  6. Gloves = Wallet

    Posted on December 23, 2011 by Allie

    J hates carrying a big wallet. We searched high and low for a small wallet that would hold a few cards and folded bills, but we could never find the right wallet at a reasonable price.  He carried a business card holder for a few months, until it wore out.  I made him a wallet out of fabric, that sort of worked.  But eventually, he needed a better solution.

    He told me what he wanted, and we started brainstorming.  What if we took an old large wallet and cut it down somehow?  I searched through the closet for an old luxury brand leather wallet, but when I took it apart, it was all plastic and glue with the thinest veneer of leather.  There wasn’t much to work from.  Then J remembered he had an old pair of gloves from the Army Surplus store.  He hadn’t worn them in years.

    We used a seem ripper to separate the leather pieces.  The leather was soft and floppy and we worried that it wouldn’t make a sturdy enough wallet.  So I did a little internet research and learned that pouring hot water on leather causes it to contract, and stiffen.  Then I used an old iron I saved just for crafting situations to iron the leather out flat, being careful not to sear it.  In addition to making it thicker, it also gave it a nice worn look.

    Since we had such limited material to work with used felt to mark out the pieces so we could see how much material we had to work with, formed our design and did a trial run.  Then I made the leather wallet.  I used the existing prepunched holes on several seams.  I’d never worked with leather before.  When I tried to do one of the seems without prepunched holes, I broke several needles, and the stitching went crooked.  For the final seam, I used the sharp point on my seam ripper to poke holes to stitch through, and it was much much easier.

    It’s certainly not perfect, but it works well, and because we made the pattern for his specific needs, it’s exactly what he wanted.  After I finished the wallet, we learned that what J was looking for is called a “front pocket wallet” and they aren’t as hard to find if you know the right search term.  But J loves his handmade wallet, and we were able to make use of materials we already had, instead of buying something new.

  7. Previously New Shower Head, Like New Again

    Posted on December 22, 2011 by Stefanie

    Image credit: nifwlseirff

    Is December 22 too late for some more green holiday gift-giving/wrapping/entertaining tips? It might be? Well, good, because I actually don’t have any of those for you right now. I do, however, have a cleaning tip. Maybe you’re scrambling to finish your shopping or baking, while also finding the time to bring your house to the bare bottom level of presentable before a gaggle of relatives shows up. Or maybe you’re like me and despite your long to-do list of more pressing matters, you’ll suddenly decide that RIGHT NOW is the time you must remedy a minor annoyance that frankly hasn’t even been terribly detrimental to your life. In my case, that minor annoyance is my shower head.

    Read more…

  8. Getting New Gadgets? Don’t Trash the Old Ones

    Posted on December 21, 2011 by Courtney

    If you’ve been good enough this year for Santa to leave you some new electronic gadgets under the tree, make sure you’re on next year’s “nice” list by not throwing your old electronics in the trash.

    We currently use more electronics than ever before, and it’s only natural that we’ll upgrade and replace them after a while. What most people don’t realize is that these gadgets are made with toxic materials that can be harmful if they’re not properly disposed. If they end up in a landfill, toxins can leach into the soil and groundwater, which creates a serious pollution problem.

    So when you unwrap that new iPad or GPS or digital camera this holiday season, what to do with the thing your new toy is replacing? You have lots of options:  Read more…

  9. Green Business Tips

    Posted on December 20, 2011 by Ashley S

    The going green movement has swept the nation over the course of the past several years. People are cutting back on waste in their homes, buying more fuel-efficient cars and recycling with a newfound sense of urgency and responsibility.

    And, while these changes are great for individuals and homes, what can businesses do to contribute to this increasingly eco-friendly lifestyle?

    The answer surprisingly comes in small changes, which can be used by companies of all sizes!  Read more…

  10. Giveaway Update: A Homemade Holiday

    Posted on December 19, 2011 by Melissa

    Thank you for entering at A Homemade Holiday for a chance to receive the Play Cafe Breakfast Set. The lucky recipient of the Breakfast Set is #6, Patrice (duplicate entries and entries from Greenists Writers were removed). Patrice, congratulations! You will be contacted soon for your shipping information.

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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