Thursday, January 31, 2013

Funky list of repurposing Ideas

turning old piano into outdoor fountain

Do you happen to have old cassette tapes lying around? What about chairs, skis, coat hangers, cd cases, or even a piano? All of these things are given a new uses in Twisted Sifter's huge list of 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse, and Upcycle Old Things. Check it out! Some of the ideas are kind of silly, (like the piano-turned-garden fountain pictured above) but some of the ideas come in handy for everyday activities too!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grow Food in Small Spaces

Today's guest post comes from a fellow blogger, Paul Taylor. Paul Taylor started which offers an aggregated look at those sites to help families find sitters and to help sitters find families easier than ever. He loves writing, with the help of his wife. He has contributed quality articles for different blogs & websites.

Garden Wall
image of a vertical garden courtesy of

When it comes to organic food, expensive is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However anyone can grow their own organic foods no matter where they live. How is that possible? Well, try these easy gardening tips for small spaces:

1.      Window boxes – Window boxes are the easiest way for anyone to grow their own food. It doesn’t require special tools either. Anything can be made into a window box. Recycled yogurt containers and other reused items are easy to use as planters. Plant your seeds and set them in a well-lit window and they will grow, hopefully, year round. Just make sure to keep them moist as indoor air is usually drier. You can grow herbs, vegetables and even small trees inside your home without using any pesticides.

2.      Grow lights – Another way to grow plants if you have no outdoor space is by using grow lights. Grow lights can be purchased at home improvement and gardening stores and online. These lights help plants of all shapes and sizes to grow healthy even with no real sunlight. Pair with a growing table for a spread that traditional gardeners would love.

3.      Vertical gardens –If you have a small outdoor space like a balcony or porch, then vertical gardening is for you. You can use a repurposed shelf or even a pallet to grow plants along the wall. Just fill it with dirt and let the sunshine in. You can also hang pots from the wall to keep your area usable and still productive.

These are just a few of the ways that anyone can have an organic garden, no matter how small of a space they have. We can all grow some of our own foods and live healthier, greener lives. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Suggestion: Four Fish by Paul Greenberg

image courtesy of

I am halfway through Four Fish by Paul Greenberg, and I'm not even going to wait until I'm done to recommend it - I can already tell you it is a must-read! It is a detailed explanation of how salmon, bass, cod, and tuna became our four main food fish and the environmental consequences of a globalized seafood industry. Seafood is one of our healthiest animal food choices, but we are running many species to extinction, leaving fish farming and genetic engineering as the only viable way to feed human populations. I especially admire Greenberg's ability to look at the issues from many angles. After reading the first few chapters, I feel as though I have a well-rounded knowledge of things like salmon farming and "fair trade" seafood. 

image courtesy of

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nail Polish & Pregnancy

There are lots of rules and guidelines that pregnant women abide by in order to best protect the health of their child. Many women avoid any unnecessary chemicals, deciding that it is worth it to skip a couple hair dye jobs and meals of overly processed foods. But what about nail polish? Should pregnant women avoid manicures?

Most traditional nail polishes are rated between 5-7 on the EWG SkinDeep Database (Moderate - High hazard), but since nail polish is not applied to the skin, or  purposefully ingested, the potentially harmful chemicals are not easily absorbed into the body. But if you are a nail biter - these chemicals should be of concern to you. Unfortunately, many nail polishes contain dibutyl phthalate and toluene which are both linked to reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption. FDA research has also shown that  methyl methacrylate and acetonitrile break down into cyanide when ingested.

Kim Kardashian (a role model for many young women around the world) recently posted pictures of herself biting her nails on Instagram. The star recently announced she is expecting a child with Kanye West.

If you don't bite or pick at your nails, and you paint them in a well vented area, its safe to have painted nails during pregnancy. Otherwise, try non-toxic nail polishes, like Knocked Up Nails which is specifically formulated to be safe for pregnant women.

Friday, January 25, 2013

500th Post!

Thank you to my loyal readers for helping my blog evolve and improve over the past 2 and a half years. I am so excited that Boston Green Blog has reached the 500-post benchmark! 

Lots more green living tips, eco fashion, healthy beauty, and energy efficiency ideas to come over the next 500!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Big Event? Rent a Dress!

Ladies of all ages love to get glammed up for big events. The tradition of beauty rituals like manicures and a blow out add to the excitement of the day, but of course, the most important and exciting aspect of any event is the dress. Picking out a fancy dress is a lot of fun, but it can also be bittersweet to know you'll probably only wear it once or twice. It seems a bit wasteful, doesn't it? Luckily, over the past two years, dress borrowing websites have become popular. Websites like Rent the Runway give all the thrill of getting a new dress, without creating so much waste (and come with a much lower price tag!). For your next big night out, borrow a dress from a friend, or check out Rent the Runway to cut your carbon footprint!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Green Your Ski Trip

Like many New Englanders, I absolutely love skiing. It is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors during the coldest months of the year. Unfortunately, its not a very environmentally friendly sport - it requires a lot of a equipment, natural habitats are destroyed as ski trails are created, and many drive a long way to partake in the activity. Therefore, it is important to make sustainable decisions once you are at the mountain in order to help curb your negative impact.

1. Pack your own (vegetarian) lunch in reusable packaging.
2. Buy carbon offsets for your trip.
3. Invest in quality gear that will last a long time. There are many eco gear companies too!
4. Bring your own reusable water bottle.
5. Pack light, check tires, drive efficiently in order to minimize gas consumption.
6. Share a trail map with the group instead of each getting your own copy.
7. When you need new equipment, buy used skis and donate your old gear.

BONUS: Plan to go to a green ski resort! (try Jiminy Peak or Jackson Hole)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Climatide: Dead blog with content that lives on

I am a huge fan of WBUR. Listening for even a few minutes a day leaves me feeling informed and inspired. This morning, there was a great story about wind turbines in Gloucester, and I was searching for a copy of the piece online when I stumbled across an old WGBH blog called Climatide.

Climatide included many informative, easy-to-read articles about the impacts of climate change on Cape Cod and Massachusetts' coastline. The blog project ended in March 2012, but I am now going back and trying to read as many of the articles as possible. Some subjects include declining fish stocks, impacts of the Japanese earthquake, a look back at Thoreau's journals ...and other diverse, yet relevant stories. I highly suggest taking a look if you are interested in climate change or oceanography!

image courtesy of

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Reduce your lead exposure: Check your ceramics

Plastics have BPA, metal doesn't microwave, glass gets scratched in the dishwasher, so many people prefer ceramics for food serving & storage. But since lead is used in many ceramic glazes, there are a few things you should know before using ceramics for all of your food meal needs. The following are suggestions from the FDA website.

mexican pottery stall with different sized pottery lined up on shelves

Q. What is lead and how do I become exposed to it?
A. Lead is a toxic substance present in our environment in small amounts and everyone is exposed to some lead from daily actions such as inhaling dust, eating food, or drinking water. In general, the small exposure to lead within the U.S. population does not pose a significant public health concern. However, exposure to larger amounts of lead can cause lead poisoning.  
Q. What health risks are associated with lead poisoning? 
A. While lead can affect nearly every bodily system, its effects depend upon the amount and duration of lead exposure and age. Exposure to extremely high amounts of lead may result in overt and possibly severe symptoms for which an individual is likely to seek medical attention. However, infants, young children and the developing fetus can be affected by chronic exposure to amounts of lead that may not result in obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. A child with lead poisoning may not look or act sick. If your child has been eating or drinking from pottery or any other type of ceramic ware identified as “problem types” in the list below, and you’re not sure whether it contains lead, stop using the items, and talk to your healthcare professional about testing your child’s blood for lead. It’s a simple test.
Lead poisoning in children has been linked to:
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delays
  • lower IQ scores
Q. Why is lead used in ceramicware?A. Traditional pottery and other forms of ceramicware are made with earthenware, a porous form of clay which must be glazed in order for the pottery to hold food or liquid. Glazing applies and fuses a thin, glass-like coating onto the surface of the clay to seal its pores. The glaze – which may contain lead to facilitate the melting of glaze particles – fuses to the pottery when it is fired in a kiln, a special oven used to bake clay. When the pottery is fired at the proper temperature for the proper amount of time, essentially all the lead is bound into the glaze. If any migrates to food, it will be an insignificant amount. However, if not properly fired, the lead may not fuse to the earthenware and may contaminate food when the pottery is used with food.
Today many potters of traditional or ‘folk’ pottery have switched to non-lead glazes, but they may still be using old kilns that were once used for firing lead-containing glazes, unintentionally contaminating the “lead free” pottery with lead residues that remain in the kiln from past usage. Because the lead may not fuse into the non-lead glaze, it may contaminate food when the pottery is used with food.

Q. Are there any laws against selling ceramicware that contains lead?
A. If the ceramicware contains lead and is properly made, it can be sold in the U.S. The FDA recently published guidance that addresses the safety and labeling concerns for traditional pottery and ornamental ceramicware that may contain lead that can contaminate food. The guidance is entitled “ (1) The Safety of Imported Traditional Pottery Intended for Use with Food and the Use of the Term “Lead Free” in the Labeling of Pottery; and (2) Proper Identification of Ornamental and Decorative Ceramicware.”
Q. What types of ceramicware may contain lead that can contaminate food? What should I look for?
A. Consumers should pay particular attention to the following “problem types” of ceramicware or pottery that is:
  • handmade with a crude appearance or irregular shape
  • antique
  • damaged or excessively worn
  • purchased from flea markets or street vendors or if you are unable to determine whether the pottery is from a reliable manufacturer
  • brightly decorated in orange, red, or yellow color, as lead is often used with these pigments to increase their intensity.
Pottery not listed above that was made in commercial factories for everyday use is much less likely to have problems related to lead.
Q. How can I find out if my ceramicware are safe?
A. If your home has pottery that is similar to those items listed above, or you are concerned regarding the safety of pottery in your home, there are some precautions you, the consumer, can take:
  • Test the pottery. Consumers can buy lead-testing kits in hardware stores or online. The kits contain swabs with instructions on proper use of the swabs and reading of the results. In most cases, the consumer will rub the swab on the food-contacting surface of the pottery. In most kits, if the pottery contains lead that leaches onto the swab, it will change colors. If a consumer performs a test and finds the pottery contains leachable lead, the FDA strongly advises against using the pottery for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks. 
  • If you are unable to test the pottery or otherwise determine that it is from a reliable manufacturer, consider not using it for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
  • Look for a warning label. If the pottery was manufactured for use only as a decorative item, it may have a warning stamped onto the clay bottom such as “Not for Food Use—May Poison Food.” Do not use items with this type of warning for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
  • Be aware that no amount of washing, boiling, or other process can remove lead from pottery. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Deal: 50% off at

Amazon Local is providing a great deal on green goods this week!

$25 to Spend on Green Products (Quidsi Retail LLC)
Sold by (Quidsi Retail LLC)
The Details
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  • Shop for local, fair trade, and cruelty-free items
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Tax Credit for Wind Industry Extended

In addition to narrowly escaping the fiscal cliff, Congress also extended the tax credit for wind energy. Which is great news, but unfortunately, since many people in the wind industry didn't know if the credit would be extended or not - many companies have already made major cuts, which will slow our progress towards energy sustainability and independence.

NPR had a great piece on the issue yesterday, that stated:

"Congress renewed the tax credit for a year, but the industry had no idea which way it would go, so it had to prepare for the worst. Nobody wanted to gamble on starting a project that wouldn't be competitive. So after rushing to complete as many projects as possible before the tax credit expired, developers stopped planning for the future. Some companies had to lay off workers. Some manufacturers went bankrupt."

For the full story, click here. 

Wind turbines dwarf a church near Wilson, Kan. Although Congress voted to extend a wind energy tax credit, the temporary uncertainty dealt a blow to the industry.
image courtesy of

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Jane Carter Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner

Pros                                                                      Cons                 
-Effective detangling conditioner                            -Nozzle makes it difficult to spray hair evenly
-Protects against heat & sun damage                    -Rated 5 on SkinDeep (moderate hazard)
-Company has socioeconomic commitments         -Contains artificial fragrance
-Affiliated with non profits                                  

Conclusion: As you may know from reading my past reviews, I really don't like to endorse products that are rated above a 3 on EWG's SkinDeep Database. Even though this product is rated a 5, there are many redeeming qualities. For example, Jane Carter's mission:

"Above all, we believe that "hair is hair," and that segmenting hair care by ethnicity does not encourage diversity, love and multicultural coexistence. We also believe that what you put on and in your body should promote wellness, and also be kind to the earth. Finally, as a company, Jane Carter Solution supports grassroots initiatives that contribute to the protection, growth and development of our global communities in need."

It is wonderful to find a cosmetics company that is committed to health, environmental responsibility, diversity and global equality. Furthermore, the only two ingredients rated above a 4 are artificial fragrance (GRRR WHEN WILL COMPANIES STOP?!) and Butoxyethanol. I didn't know what Butoxyethanol was, so I did a little research. It is illegal in Canada, but has been deemed safe for cosmetic use in the U.S. because it is only an irritant when used near the eyes or mouth. So, if used only in the hair, the product should be safe.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Petition for a Carbon Tax

The idea of a carbon tax in the United States is a controversial issue. While popular political groups like the Tea Party oppose creating new taxes of any kind because they only support a sick governmental system, many think a more appropriately arranged tax structure would help cure the country's economic problems.

One such new tax could potentially be a carbon tax. Other countries with struggling economies such as Ireland, have adopted carbon taxes to both reduce the deficit and help change behavior (meaning, make people more green!) If a carbon tax is something you support, or something you'd like to learn more about, I highly suggest taking a look at this petition.

image courtesy of

Happy New Year!