1. Painting with Benjamin Moore Natura

    Posted on July 17, 2012 by The Modern Gal

    The Greenists are on vacation. Please enjoy this recycled post.

    Natura

    Primed and ready for paint

    The Modern Fiance and I a few months ago bought a 100-year-old house that, despite being in pretty good shape, has needed a little updating a lot of greening. One of the first big things on our to-do list was painting. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve lived in a place that needed some painting. In fact, the last time I painted anything there was no place I knew of locally that sold low- or zero-VOC paint — it was only available to me if I ordered it online. I like to test paint out before committing, so that really wasn’t an option.

    Boy how things have changed. The Home Depot sells Freshaire Choice VOC-free paint. Lowe’s sells VOC-free Olympic paint — really every paint store I’ve been to lately had VOC-free options. It’s great to have choices. But like most green home products, my concern was whether the quality would hold up compared to the VOC-heavy paint options.

     

    For this weekend’s painting project, the MF and I settled on a gallon ofBenjamin Moore Natura paint, available at our local BM outlet. Benjamin Moore is a top-of-the-line paint, which means you pay a little bit more for the Natura paint ($50 per gallon) than you would for, say, The Home Depot’s Freshaire Choice ($35 per gallon). We’d heard good things about Natura though, and it was available in every single color offered by Benjamin Moore — basically every color under the sun — whereas the Freshaire Choice colors were much more limited. Plus, we were able to grab some Natura samples in a few different colors so we could settle on the color we wanted.

    I grumbled a little bit about the cost until I realized what good quality paint we were using. It went on smoothly and easily covered our very uneven plaster walls, much to my surprise. Because we were going from a deep red color to a soft gray, we ended up priming before the color went up, but I think most paint projects could get away without primer and just one coat. It dried very quickly too — by the time we had made it all the way around the room, we could start on our touchups. And either I’m just turning into a better painter as I get older or the Natura paint just looks better on the walls than paints I’ve used in the past.

    Non-VOC doesn’t necessarily mean odor free, but the scent of the paint was very, very minimal. We painted the whole room without feeling lightheaded from the smell. We didn’t need to crack a window by the time the walls were covered, (which is good, because our 100-year-old windows don’t really open anyway!)

    I guess the important thing to say here is that I’d recommend Benjamin Moore Natura paint, even if it wasn’t eco-friendly, so I’m really, really glad it fits into our commitment to make our old house more green.

  2. Meatless Mondays – Vegetarian Chilaquiles

    Posted on July 16, 2012 by Allie

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

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    While there are a glut of bad Italian restaurants in our neighborhood, there was only one good Mexican Restaurant on our side of town.  Last week, when we went to grab dinner, IT WAS CLOSED!  FOR GOOD!  I guess I’ll have to make my own chilaquiles.

    I found a great recipe for Vegetarian Chilaquiles on Emily Skinner’s website.   I don’t crush the chips when I make chilaquiles.  I make layers out of the full chips.

    Make it in a glass casserole dish for  more efficient cooking.

  3. How Can We Recycle Old Cassette Tapes?

    Posted on July 13, 2012 by Courtney

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    I’m getting ready to move, which means I’ve started the unholy task of packing. Boy, do I hate packing. I do my best to keep down the amount of clutter in my home, not only because it’s eco-friendly to buy less stuff, but also because I cannot stand junk lying around. Still, it feels like I have a lot of stuff when I try to pack and move it all.

    I was cleaning out a closet the other day and came across some cassette tapes from a certain few ’80s bands WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS. Admit it; you know you enjoyed some terrible music in your formative years, too. After I finished trying to remember the numerous dance routines I made up in my backyard to these gems, I decided I should get rid of ye olde technology.

    Which brings me to my question: Does anyone out there know a place that will recycle cassette tapes? I don’t want to throw them in the trash, but I’ve looked online and I’m having trouble finding someone who will take them. I’m willing to send them someplace in the mail if there’s no place to recycle them locally. They’re not just tapes I bought with my allowance back in the day; there’s a few mixed tapes in there too.

    While we’re at it, I also have a bunch of old floppy disks. Remember when computers had disk drives? Ahh, those were the days. Anyway, I’d also appreciate any suggestions on places to recycle those.

    Okay, fine. I have Genesis tapes, okay? I liked “I Can’t Dance” when I was 10. You may now commence mocking.

  4. Green Guilt: Just Let It Go

    Posted on July 12, 2012 by Melissa

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    Roof over their heads or organic food in their tummies? You know my answer.

    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. My family recently moved to another state and I am currently staying at home with my two children. With our new single salary household, I find myself having to sacrifice some green luxuries. Organic veggies, for example, are typically $1.00-$5.00 more than conventional vegetables. Do I prefer organic food? Yes! I know it is better for my body and for the environment. But I need to watch my spending; I can get more fruits and vegetables if I choose the less expensive alternative. Do I want to pollute with generic dish soap? No way! But how do I explain to my kids that I can’t buy them apple juice because I chose to spend the $3.00 on natural dish soap instead? Not to mention, I hardly ever find coupons for green products in the Sunday paper (search for them on manufacturer’s webpages instead).

    My husband and I were discussing this situation the other night and in my complaints of having to let go of some of my favorite green products (like a $20 baby wash), I accused him of not supporting the green movement. He replied with, “I do support the green movement! But I have to support my family first.” His statement got me thinking about my priorities, the first of which are my children. I want to do all I can to build them a better world – they are the entire reason I became more green in the first place. My husband must have sensed my conflict because he rushed in and pointed out all of the little things we do to help the environment. “We can’t recycle right now. There is no curbside recycling in our new neighborhood and there is a fee to use the recycling center. But you are reusing things more, like the glass sauce and salad dressing containers.” He pointed out a few other things:

    1) If I think I can make it or bake it, I don’t buy it. I’ve been bakinghomemade breads, pitas, bagels, sweets, and tortillas. I’ve been whipping together salad dressings and granola and even made a little homemade peanut butter the other day! So much cheaper, greener (no packaging waste), and tastier! Additionally, now that I’m baking more I’ve been able to eliminate spending on scented soy candles – the house ALWAYS smells like something good! Now, if only I could figure out how to bake Cheerios . . .

    Homemade Amish White Bread

     

    2) We are still using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I wash them with 1/4 cup of Tide. I’ve found that natural detergents just don’t clean diapers as well as Tide does. Read any diaper board . . . the parents who use natural detergents seem to be continually stripping their diapers and complaining that they still smell after washing – what a waste of water, energy, detergent, time and money.

    3) I stopped buying lotions and creams. Everyone gets to use (or choose not to use) the Coconut Oil now!

    4) The boys share a bath. Not to mention, now that I’m a stay at home Mom, I don’t have the time to take a long shower (if I’m lucky enough to get one at all!).

    5) Now that I’m no longer commuting to work for 1 hour/day, I only need to fill up my gas tank every other week, instead of every week.

    6) All of our dish rags vanished during our move! Instead of buying new ones, I’m knitting rags from leftover cotton yarn from a previous knitting project.

    7) We still rock the reusable shopping bags, napkins, and homemade cleaning products. As well as a lot of other tiny things that might just be making a difference (like using Mason Jars for drinking glasses . . . and for storing homemade jam!).

    Even though I can’t afford to buy a new hybrid or spend $5-6/gallon on organic milk right now (oh, but it tastes so good!), I can still be a Greenist. It’s not my fault that the condo development we are renting in will not allow me to hang a clothesline or compost. I need to shake the green guilt and be proud of what I can do. I can support the green movement and my family – both of them will just have to sacrifice a little bit for now.

  5. The Fruits of Activism

    Posted on July 11, 2012 by Mickey

     The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    Two days ago, rambling with a friend along a rocky ridge way off trail in Grand Teton National Park, I had the opportunity, for the second time, to peer down into the upper reaches of Leigh Canyon, a wild place if ever there was one. Though the mouth of the canyon, which pours out into the air-clear waters of Leigh Lake on the floor of Jackson Hole, is only a few miles from the tourist beehive of Jenny Lake, the upper canyon is a place only glimpsed by marmots, adventurous ravens and, rarely, misguided off-duty park rangers.

     

    The first time I had the opportunity to ponder the wildness of Leigh Canyon was three years ago as I made an end-around solo traverse of the head of the canyon on a two night trip. It was my first experience going off-trail in the park that wasn’t for the expressed purpose of getting to the top of a peak, and I was rewarded with near-absolute solitude, the only incursions being the occasional passing of jetliners overhead. As I made my way down the ridge to the low point between the canyon and the Idaho side of the Teton range, I was startled and then awed to see a black bear with a cub close at her heels crossing into the saddle from the west. I’d seen plenty of bears before and I’ve seen a score of them since, but I think it was the coincidence of our crossing paths that amazed me most at the time. Few people ever tread the route I was taking, and I can’t imagine that the bear spends a whole lot of time in the unforgiving environs of the divide, but there we were, each trying to get somewhere a little more pleasant.

    I kept my distance, silently watching the pair as they carefully stepped their way down the steep, loose, rocky slope into Leigh Canyon, probably to see how the forage was down around Mink Lake, knowing there would be no bothersome, picture-snapping humans at that remote locale. I followed their progress until they were too small to pick out among the boulders far below, and then I too continued on my way to finding my own place to eat and lay down for the night.

    Tuesday, as I reflected back on the experience from very near the same location, it occurred to me that it may never have happened if not for the commitment of a few visionary people long before the term environmentalist was even coined. Eighty years ago John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Horace Albright and others created this park through sheer will and much political and financial wrangling. If not for their efforts, the unspoiled places in the park like Leigh Canyon could very well have ended up hosting a ski area, a highway or even a strip mine. Instead of watching a couple of bears cross the divide, I could have enjoyed the whine and dust of a swarm of ATVs. Thanks to the idea of conservation, the bear and I both have a place to go to see things as they were, and as they always should be.

  6. LIttle Moon Essentials – Tired Old Ass Soak

    Posted on July 10, 2012 by Allie

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    toa_12salt_base

    We just remodeled our bathroom.  I hadn’t taken a bath in almost 7 years.  Mind you, I was showering.  This isn’t some kind of big horrifying confession.  Our old bathtub was impossibly small and didn’t allow for any kind of comfortable soaking.

    When my friend Lady heard that we were getting a real bathtub, she sent me some bath goodies.  Along with them, a jar of Tired Old Ass Soak bath salts from Little Moon Essentials.

    On Sunday, J and I did some super hard hiking and, well, not just my ass was tired.  I had sore muscles and the kind of cold that just won’t seem to get out of your bones no matter how many sweaters you pile on.  So, I took a nice long bath with a big scoop of Tired Old Ass Soak, and felt refreshed.

    It’s a blend of salts, minerals, rosemary, eucalyptus, and vetiver, and it has a bright, energizing, clear your sinuses scent.  It made my skin soft, and in combo with some hot water, a mass market paperback, and a good glass of wine, it is a heavenly experience.

    My soak came packaged in a glass jars with a metal cap, and you can call to refill.  From the site:

    “We all use our natural products every day! We would never dream of testing on animals, and we all maintain an environmentally-conscientious standard that befits a “planet friendly” company. Our company is women-owned & operated, located in the heart of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, which we think infuses our entire line with a special energy. We love what we make and we put intention and magic into everything we do. Our goal is to heal the world, one body at a time! And to co-create the healthiest and most harmonious Planet possible with everything we make and do! Please call us and we’ll tell you all about it!”

  7. Meatless Mondays – Tofu Tostadas

    Posted on July 9, 2012 by Allie

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

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    This is a great “intro to tofu” recipe. If you’ve tried tofu before and thought it tasted like feet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’ve included the brands I use, in case you’re curious.

    Ingredients:

    1. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Cook over medium-high heat in 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil until browned slightly.
    2. Add black beans
    3. Mix in taco seasoning and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 9-10 minutes.
    4. Heat refried beans in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
    5. Spread refried beans on the tostada shells, then layer tofu & black bean mixture.
    6. Top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, etc.

    When I made this, my husband and I pigged out on tostadas and still had enough to pig out again at lunch the next day, so I think this should serve four or five people easily. It’s quick and easy and I swear the tofu doesn’t taste at all like feet.

  8. Using Those Summer Fruits

    Posted on July 5, 2012 by Dianne

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post.

    During the summer I love to make desserts that are centered around fruit. You can even add fruit to salads. You can go really easy and simply enjoy the fruit on its own or perhaps with a little whipped cream. Or how about a little ice cream? There are so many things you can do with fresh fruit this time of year!

     

    Peaches are a particular favorite of mine to play around with this time of year. Also blueberries. In some areas you can even still find strawberries.Granita is a particular favorite that I like to make this time of year and can be made with many different fruits. It’s all about simply scraping the mixture as it freezes.

    Another thing I like to do when fruit is in season is to freeze some to use later. I freeze strawberry and rhubarb together, along with strawberries by themselves. I freeze blueberries and they are actually good as a frozen treat in and of themselves and perfect for use in blueberry muffins later. Peaches can be frozen too for cobbler or ice cream. These frozen fruits can be used to make smoothies, which make the perfect breakfast or snack on the go.

    What is available now where you live? What do you like to do with your summer fruits? Do you have an tips or ideas of how to use those summer fruits?

  9. Where the Deer and the Antelope (and I) Play

    Posted on July 3, 2012 by Mickey

     

    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…

  10. Green Garden Hack

    Posted on July 2, 2012 by Jody

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post!

    Well, it’s the middle of July again and if your garden is anything like mine, you just can’t water enough.  And even if you do keep up with watering, it only takes one very hot day to destroy months of progress as your garden wilts in the sun.

    Of course, someone is always willing to sell you something to solve your problems, but why purchase something when you can simply re-purpose something you already have?

    What You’ll Need:

    1. wine bottle
    2. thirsty plants

    Simply fill the wine bottle with water, quickly flip it upside down and push the open end of the bottle into the dirt.  Depending on how hot it is, and how much your plants like water, this simple trick can save you a few (and sometimes several) days of watering.

    This trick works especially well with patio plants and seedlings you are trying to establish- I don’t think my tomato plants would have ever survived without it- but it also works well as a supplement for especially sunny areas that might need just a little more water than other areas in your garden.

    So okay, your garden may look like you hosted a wine party, but the bottles are often small enough to be hidden behind larger plants or you can pick only the green and brown wine bottles to better blend into your garden landscape.

    Wine bottles not your thing? If you are working on getting seeds started, check out this handy irrigation technique (scroll down near the bottom of the post)- I might have to start collecting 2 liter bottles for this very purpose!

    Happy Gardening!

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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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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