Bamboo: Why you need it in your kitchen, and six ways to get it there

Bamboo, that renewable, quick-growing wood that’s really a grass, has been expanding across product lines, turning up on floors, in furniture, and towels. But let’s get back to where we started: Bamboo works great in the kitchen. Remember those bamboo salad bowls? They’re still around, but there are many more ways attractive, durable bamboo is being tapped for kitchen ware.

Worried about toxic ingredients in cleaners? See our new improved list of the greenest products

When the Environmental Working Group released their scorecard on green cleaners last month, I sprang from my chair to check the label on the case of Ecover Limescale Remover that UPS had just delivered.

I don’t usually buy by the case, but this was the only way I could get this cleaner, which I adore because it transforms my shower door from an icky, opaque bacteria-generator into a sheet of glistening glass, without using toxic ingredients. Or so I believed.
Fortunately, my limescale remover skated by with a solid “B” on the EWG 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Whew!

But some of the other products I’m using did not make the grade, despite being sold as “green” or “natural” products.

That’s right. Amazingly, many green cleaners contain endocrine disrupters, suspected carcinogens, toxic ingredients with unknown effects and needlessly harsh ingredients, like sodium laurel sulfate, according to the EWG review of more than 2,000 cleaners .

The reuse files: You used what for a flower pot?

As we get ready for the spring garden, there’s plenty to do. We need to weed, compost and ready the beds. Inside, we’ve got seedlings we’re nursing along.
Yesterday, we began casting about for containers both for the larger seedlings and for herbs we may grow outside, which reminded me that we’ve seen a lot of cool re-purposing of containers for plants.
Here an old wash basin has been appropriated. We saw this outside an antique shop in the Midwest while on vacation last summer.

Recycle your Christmas tree

Every year the holidays bring the same debate: Is it more eco-friendly to use a live fresh-cut evergreen or a reusable faux tree?

And the answer is that the most eco-friendly yuletide solution is to decorate a potted live tree, which is planted after the holidays.
The next choice would be to buy a live Christmas tree, and have it mulched after the holidays.
Pine and fir tree mulch is commonly used in civic garden areas or even as fuel. In recent years, people have come up with a variety of creative ways to reuse even whole discarded Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA).

Don’t let your e-waste cause a holiday hangover

This holiday season millions of people will be surprised by their loved ones with new smart phones, game consoles, lap tops, DVRs and televisions and a gazillion other electronic gadgets.
Americans, especially, who bought $11.4 million in electronics just over the Black Friday weekend, are hopelessly in like with their computerized convenience items, gaming equipment and ever-expanding retinue of TVs.
But with the joy of ringing in the new, comes a new responsibility to not trash the old – especially when it comes to electronics.

Lowe’s offers more recycling options to customers

Lowe's new recycling centers collect batteries, lightbulbs and plastic bags.

Recycling in earnest can make a person crazy. Maybe you’ve got curbside pick up for plastic bottles and newspapers. But what about batteries, cell phones, CFL light bulbs, printer ink cartridges, cardboard boxes and old computers? These harder-to-recycle items often comprise the clutter in our garages and mud rooms as they wait patiently for someone to haul them to the appropriate place.
Lowe’s stores are trying to make that task a little easier. The home improvement chain announced today that it has installed 1,700 recycling centers in nearly 1,700 stores across the U.S. that will collect and recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, unbroken CFLs and plastic shopping bags.

Greenpeace issues new guide for choosing recycled personal paper products

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Greenpeace, guardian of oceans and forests, has reissued its Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide to help people make the switch to recycled paper.

The new pocket guide endorses brands such as Green Forest, Earth Friendly, Natural Value and Seventh Generation, which are made of recycled paper. It recommends that shoppers avoid products such as Kleenex, Cottonelle, Charmin, Angel Soft, Bounty, Brawny and the Target and Wal-Mart house brands because they are not made from recycled wood products.

Using recycled personal paper products can make an impressive impact in curbing global warming, according to Greenpeace, among others — far greater than one might suspect from contemplating the lowly roll of toilet paper.

Help contain plastics by knowing your plastic containers

By Kelly Rondeau
Green Right Now

It’s the holiday season, and along with the many joys that are associated with this fun time of year – cooking, baking, parties with friends and family – comes a lurking environmental problem: Toxic chemicals in everyday plastics. Plastics that seem to be everywhere in our holiday midst — in the packaging of toys, the toys themselves, our food packaging, in our holiday leftover storage containers, in plastic wrap, in water bottles — and the list goes on.

Many valid health concerns have been raised about poisonous chemicals present in our everyday plastics, and the headlines about these toxins leaching into our food are frightening. A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found, for instance, that food containers labeled as “microwave safe” leached BPA when heated. (See our report, “BPA turns up in ‘microwave safe’ products“.)

The Road To Recycling Success

By Barbara Kessler Plastics have proliferated, but the rate of consumer recycling has stagnated. The percent of #1 (PET) plastic recycled was actually highest in the United States a decade ago, in 1995-1997, when it ranged from 27 to 40 percent. The percent of...
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