Green Living Ideas

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Green Living Ideas provides ideas, tips, and information to help you improve the environmental sustainability of every aspect of your life: home energy, green building and remodeling, cars, food, waste recycling—and everything in between. Green Living Ideas is the most comprehensive green living website ever assembled, with information on how to live greener in over 200 different areas of life! We’ve assembled the world’s top green living authors and experts to bring you the latest info on green and sustainable living.
Updated: 6 hours 33 min ago

Al Gore, on solutions for our climate change crisis

Tue, 2014-04-15 23:54

Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a powerful address to a packed house at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last night. Environmentally, Gore is most famous, perhaps, for his 2006 speaking tour and subsequent documentary called An Inconvenient Truth, but as opening speaker Senator Brian Schatz pointed out, Mr. Gore has been a climate change and environmental champion throughout his long career. Schatz, the current U.S. Senator from Hawaii, said he was inspired by Earth in the Balance, Gore’s breakthrough work of nonfiction that set Gore’s path to a run for the White House in motion. Gore, in turn, after coming on stage, said that he was inspired more by Schatz, a freshman senator who managed to organize an all night session on the Senate floor with some 30 senators to discuss climate change and urge action from their colleagues. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that many Senators to do ANYTHING? Let alone spend a whole night at work?” Gore quipped.

Gore started by framing the argument on climate change with the history of measurement of greenhouse gases. Roughly about the same time the first oil well was tapped 150 or so years ago, scientists were already saying that carbon dioxide can trap heat in a greenhouse kind of way. Gore got to the heart of the matter quickly:

“Our way of life is at stake. Our grandchildren are at stake. People say not to tell people about this, but we’ve got to talk about it. We’ve got to rally on this! There is hope, and not only is there hope, but we are going to win this!”

Gore said there have been two game changers in the last few years that have turned the tide in the war we’re waging against climate change. The first, he said, is the frequency of historic climatic events and the obvious effects of climate change. Right before Hurricane Sandy, according to data Gore showed from NOAA, the temperature of ocean water was recorded at 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines after being bolstered by ocean temperatures 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal and to this day, 4 million environmental refugees are still homeless as a result. Worldwide, data are becoming incontrovertible. “Extremely hot days” are now 100x more prevalent than they were just a century ago. People are getting it, Gore said. Even the climate deniers are starting to become fewer and fewer and less and less vocal.

The other game changing occurence in recent years is clean technology. There are 79 countries where the cost of solar panels have dropped so much so that these countries have achieved grid parity with solar power. Gore compares the current climate denier industry to the tobacco industry 30 years ago. Back then, he said, when science had proven that smoking was bad for you, the tobacco industry paid actors to dress up as doctors, gave them a script, and they went on TV and told the world that there was absolutely nothing wrong with smoking. Gore said that climate deniers who pollute and make money from it are doing the same thing now. ”It’s immoral, unethical, and despicable, and we need to call them to account for it!” he implored the audience.

Beyond the political side, comparing solar to cell phone technology, Gore showed that AT&T did a study in 1990 which concluded that they should be able to sell 100,000 cell phones by 2000. The actual figure was over 100 million. Like cell phones, solar has an unstoppable quality to it.

Just like cell phone technology:

  1. Solar costs have dropped,
  2. solar quality has improved,
  3. people have the capacity to make the decision (rather than the utility),
  4. and the developing world is using solar as a leapfrog technology–rather than putting in power lines and centralized power, solar comes cheaper and faster

He concluded: “This is unstoppable!”

But solar and other clean technologies are not without their enemies. The Koch Brothers (whom this author thinks may be the worst people in the world) have introduced legislation in 34 states, through their lobbying power, to tax anyone who uses solar on their homes! They have not been able to move the legislation very far, however, and resistance has come from all sides of the political spectrum. In Georgia, Gore said, some elements of the Tea Party even came out of the woodwork to oppose this government intervention, and formed a strange bedfellows partnership with the Sierra Club…they called it the “Green Tea Party”, Gore said.

And it’s happening around the world. The Vatican, Gore said, is set to become the first carbon neutral nation. “I’m a Southern Baptist, but I could convert to Catholicism!”, he said.

As for the science, the consensus continues to grow. Gore said that last year, over 9100 scientists around the world  published climate science papers in peer-reviewed journals, and literally, only one of them opposes the majority view that climate change is happening and that we’re causing it. “Climate change is indisputable”, according to a Joint Statement issued by climate change scientists globally, shown in the slide show Gore was giving.

Gore advised, globally, two major changes that are needed to speed our victory over climate change.

  1. Put a price on carbon in markets
  2. Put a price on denial in politics

After comparing solar technology to cell phone technology, Gore argued that we’re on the right side of history in political terms, too. Comparing the way climate deniers and right wing talking heads are trying to reframe the argument or make it taboo to the same historical pattern seen in gay rights, civil rights, and many other issues in which we were told not to talk about it, not to acknowledge it, and not to legitimize it.

Gore finished with a powerful and emotional finale: “The only thing we need is political will, and political will is a renewable resource!”

Categories: Green Living

Top 20 Home Improvement Sites: GreenLivingIdeas Makes The List!

Sat, 2014-04-12 12:37

Home improvement comes in many forms. Here at GreenLivingIdeas, we aim to deliver good quality ideas for greening (which we definitely believe means improving!) your home. Greening your home has a plethora of benefits. First, you pay less in utilities. By cutting your carbon footprint, it feels good, but it also means you are a primary beneficiary financially, too. Second, your home is healthier. Cleaner indoor air quality, fewer toxins, less offgassing, etc. Third, you’re improving your life. By building a compost bin and planting an organic garden, for instance, you also benefit by having a place of meditative enjoyment, a place that nourishes you and your family, and a hobby that is both fruitful and healthy. And of course, you’re improving your home and increasing its resale value.

We do this because we love to promote green home ideas, and of course because the more you share our awesome content, the more money we make (so thanks for liking and sharing this article….ahem!). We don’t do it for glory, but every now and again, it sure is nice to be recognized. So we were thrilled when Totally Home Improvement recently recognized GreenLivingIdeas as a top 20 home improvement site!

With that in mind, we’d like to share some of the best green home improvement ideas we’ve written about in the past.


Winterizing to save energy

Tankless hot water heaters

Home energy efficiency tips

Home Automation as an energy saver

What a deep energy retrofit can do for you

Home insulation: what you need to know

Four home energy inefficiencies for under $100

Vampire Power Waste Reduction

Efficient lighting concepts

Green and Efficient Home Heating

Kitchen Appliances that are energy efficient



Dual flush toilet converters: TapNFlush product review

3 Great DIY water conservation strategies

Green Washing Machines

Home water conservation

Indoor Air Quality

Ways to improve your indoor air quality (IAQ)

10 Houseplants that improve indoor air quality

Healthier, greener products

Clean burning, recycled firewood logs

Bamboo flooring

Household cleansers and natural cleaning products

Homemade natural drain cleaner

Landscaping & Garden

Principles of Eco-friendly landscaping

Indoor Herb growing

Save space with vertical gardening

Container gardening: the 16 best plants for growing in tight spaces

Grow tropical fruits at home

Eco-turf rather than grass

Gardening in small spaces: how to succeed!

Non-toxic pest control


Photo courtesy of Pono Home


Categories: Green Living

3 Great DIY Water Conservation Strategies and How-To’s (With Video)

Fri, 2014-04-11 20:51

With the California drought a harbinger of things to come globally (now that global weirding is officially upon us and can never be logically denied ever again), it’s critical to think about how we use our resources and try to minimize our impacts. Globally, the world is covered with water…more than 2/3 of the surface of the earth is water, after all, but the amount that is fresh, clean drinking water is less than 1%. Increasingly, especially with the widespread adoption of fracking, groundwater is getting increasingly polluted, too, meaning that more and more humans are going to have to deal with less and less pure, clean drinking water.

Here’s five great water conservation strategies and videos showing how to do them.

1. Install a dual flush converter on your toilet. Recently, I interviewed Jeff Nasrallah, inventor of the Tap ‘n’ Flush, a brilliantly simple converter for just about any toilet type that instantly turns your regular toilet into a water saving beast!! Check out the post about how to install this simple device, and start saving money and water today.

2. Go buy the All-In-One water conservation kit from Niagara Conservation. It’s got water savings devices for your toilet, sink, and shower that are no-brainers for water and energy efficiency, but also super simple to install. Here’s a video:

3. Install a rainwater catchment system. According to Stephanie Evans, the average US household uses 107,000 gallons of water a year. Installing a way to catch some of the free water falling from the sky and use it for things like watering your garden or other plants is a brilliant way to tap into a renewable resource. Here’s a tutorial on installing a rainwater catchment system.

Photo from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living

Is eBilling a form of greenwashing?

Tue, 2014-04-08 14:03

Paperless billing, or eBilling as it’s sometimes referred to, is often hailed by companies as a way they’re proving their commitment to the environment. One thing is absolutely for sure: it’s a way for companies to save money. But is it also really beneficial to the environment, or is it simply greenwashing?

For a little background, check out what happens to recycled paper after its first life (a commentary that comes from someone in the commercial printing industry, and perhaps a counterbalance to the argument that paper = bad). Michael Wright from paperless billing provider Striata has the following to say about the situation. Let us know what you think about the whole debate by posting in the comments below.

We all know eBilling is “green”. It’s so obvious that it is hardly worth mentioning. But, eBilling should never be attacked as ‘greenwashing’…

The issue that upsets some lobbyists (companies in forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre press, press, finishing, publishing and printing) is that banks, telcos and utilities are enjoying substantial cost reductions from moving to electronic billing and therefore can’t claim to be doing it for altruistic environmental reasons like saving the planet and lowering Co2 emissions.

And they are particularly upset because their bankrollers are seeing revenue decline as customers choose to “Go Green” by going paperless. It seems to be a fairly self serving argument – but I guess that’s their job.

It is interesting that they are not disputing that eBilling is more cost effective.

eBilling doesn’t pollute and its energy efficient – unlike paper

It may not seem that obvious to some people that an email is going to result in less pollutants than a piece of paper. They should consider the fact that there are no trees to cut down, no effluent waste water and no solid waste in the production of emails – just because trees are a renewable resource doesn’t mean that paper is a sustainable way to communicate.

Common sense would also dictate that power consumption is not a significant factor in comparing the “green” credentials of eBilling vs. paper & print as similar servers would be used in both processes. Except in the case of eBilling there are no massive printers to run and no network of delivery trucks to distribute the documents – eBilling uses a tiny piece of an existing network (the internet) and such a small proportion of the end users computer power as to be statistically negligible.

Paper is a messy business.

As for the verifiable research, you only have to visit www.papercalculator.org to work out the environmental benefits of switching from paper to email.

Fact is, eBilling saves costs and the environment as it turns off paper. Market forces will dictate that businesses drive down costs and eBilling is a prime opportunity to do that.

Bills Photo from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living

Water Conservation and a Dual Flush Toilet Converter Review: TapNFlush

Fri, 2014-04-04 03:31

Most of our readers know that we love to review cool eco-products. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Nasrallah, inventor of a water conservation device called the TapNFlush, a dual-flush converter for toilets. We installed a TapNFlush on the toilet in my house. Previously, I had a very low tech water saving device, a toilet tank insert from Niagara Conservation, but after seeing the TapNFlush video, I was very intrigued and wanted to see this puppy work up close and personal.

The TapNFlush is a converter for toilets, meaning that it’s hardware that you install on your existing toilet, rather than going out and buying a specific dual flush toilet. Here’s a picture of the hardware itself. This device is the “tap” part of TapNFlush. It sits on top of the back of the toilet and allows a user to tap its surface, where a little green light will pop on, and then it will automatically control the amount of water used in the flush.

Jeff and I sat down and talked about the state of the converter industry, and I guess I hadn’t realized what growing pains the industry has undergone. The top three selling products in this niche are heavy duty hardware items, hard to install, hard to remove, and even liable to cause leaks, rather than save water. It’s so bad, in fact, that 47% of the reviews on Amazon for one of the big 3 dual flush toilet converters were negative!

Nasrallah’s product is about 1/4 of the physical equipment of some of the other converters, and it’s a design that’s so simple and elegant that we had it installed on my toilet, and working, in literally about than a minute. According to Nasrallah, TapNFlush can save someone over $100 a year on their water bills. It’s easy to see how. After installing, I went ahead and made this quick video showing how much water was being saved with each flush.

One of the things that is so inherently beautiful about this product is that it’s fully adjustable. If you find that the amount of water being used to flush a #2 is just…not…quite…enough, well, just dial it up a notch (literally, I’m not kidding, there’s a dial and you can increase it to the next notch). If it’s enough and you think you could cut it down a bit, you can dial it down, until you find the Goldilocks levels for both liquid and solid flush. After installing and tweaking, my experience using the TapNFlush for the first 2 weeks is that we’re saving about 50% of the water the toilet would otherwise use on liquid flushes, and about 30% of the water it would normally use on solid flushes.

Conclusion: this is a great device. Simple to install, obvious benefits, quick payback. What’s not to love?

GreenLivingIdeas wishes to thank Jeff for the TapNFlush review copy, which he generously donated to my house! 

Categories: Green Living

Recycle Your Printer Cartridges!

Tue, 2014-03-25 22:22

Did you know that throwing your empty printer cartridges in the bin is not an environmentally friendly practice? Printer ink cartridges are made of complex components and as such, are not able to be recycled or disposed of safely, unlike other traditional waste materials.

The infographic below illustrates the hazards that printer cartridges potentially pose to the environment if disposed of improperly. Thankfully, organisations including Planet Ark have spearheaded recycling programs such as ‘Cartridges for Planet Ark’, which works with corporate organisations and ink cartridge manufacturers on sustainable ways to recycle used cartridges.

Many organizations concerned about cutting their waste are working with Cartridges Direct – an online printer retailer who is passionate about spreading the word on the importance of recycle printer cartridges after use. Click here to read more about the benefits of recycling your printer cartridges, and what happens during the process of recycling.

Image from this post’s sponsor, Cartridges Direct.

Categories: Green Living

Natural Home Remedies for Hangovers

Tue, 2014-03-18 03:44

Getting hangovers is so fun…until you have one. Then, it’s just hell. Here are the best natural home remedies for that pounding head, queasy stomach, wretching gut, blurry vision, and ears that just won’t…stop…ringing!

There are some common elements to a hangover, whether it comes from too much beer, too much whiskey, too much wine, or, most likely, tequila. Or some combination of these that you can’t…quite…remember. A hangover is your body’s reaction to abuse. The symptoms are almost universally caused by dehydration and the imbalances that places on your system. A few years ago while working at Anheuser-Busch, my HR manager spotted the signs of a hangover and handed me some painkillers with high dosage of caffeine and a coke to wash it down with. I felt better for a few hours, then FAR worse afterwards (as in, “wanted to die” kind of worse). You can do better–natural treatments will soothe your pain without causing massive crashing later as well.

Here I try to give you real life examples of natural hangover therapies that actually work. Having searched for exactly this advice in the past and been disgusted with the results. If you find any articles that tell you to eat bananas because you’re missing potassium, you know that author has never had a hangover, for instance…bananas are perhaps the most revolting food (for some unknown reason) when you’re hungover. I mean, like, instant vomit upon the thought entering your mind kind of revolting.

So take it from a guy who’s had his fair share of “Irish Flu”, and who also lives a pretty natural lifestyle. Here’s what actually works.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a wonder drug if ever there was one. It’s really simple to make: just some miso, vegetables, tofu, and water. The miso is salty, and the resulting miso broth is liquid therapy for the truly hung-over among us.

Even hungover, this looks amazingly delicious, doesn’t it?

When I’ve got a serious hangover, I put the pot of water on the stove and chop some veggies and tofu and toss ‘em in, then go lay on the couch for 15 minutes (set an alarm), then come back and put in the miso and some nutritional yeast to create a beautiful and delicious (and salty!) broth. I will make a gallon or more and literally eat miso soup the entire day when I’m hungover. It works miracles. Here’s a delicious recipe for miso soup if you need one.


Available at most health food stores, Kombucha is fermented beverage (gah! why would you recommend something fermented right now??) made from black tea. It’s very very very mildly alcoholic (gah! there you go again! wreeettccchhh!!!), somewhere in the neighborhood of less than half a percent alcohol (blooooorrrchhtt!!) by volume. The beauty of Kombucha as a hangover cure is that it does have some hair of the dog element to it, but it also hydrates, helps to rebalance your salinity levels, and gives you a very very mild caffeine boost. Plus, it’ll ease your stomach by facilitating eructation (i.e., burping your a$$ off), relieving some pressure and bloating with its very slight amount of carbonation. Plus, it’s delicious.

My advice on Kombucha–just go slow. If you chug one as soon as you wake up hungover, it’s all coming back. Take a few sips, relax, take a few more…..

Homemade Natural Sports Drink

Super easy to make, without all the crazy additives and preservatives in most plastic-bottle sports drinks you can buy at the store. All you really need is some citrus, some salt, some water, and some sweetener. You’re basically replacing a lot of the stuff you lost the night before–fluids, salts, micronutrients like Magnesium, Zinc and potassium. Here’s a recipe for homemade natural sports drink, if you need one.

Ginger tea and/or natural ginger ale

If you have a lot of queasiness, recall that ginger was the miracle drug of choice before Dramamine came along for seafarers plundering their way across the open seas. The trick is…most Ginger Ales don’t actually have any ginger in them. It’s artificially flavored to taste somewhat gingery, but it ain’t ginger, and it’s not likely to do much good for your upset stomach (besides that eructation/burping we talked about earlier).

Better bet is to slice up some fresh ginger root and just put it on to simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add some honey or agave, and squeeze some lemon and/or lime in there, and voila…you’re on your way to a non-barfy stomach. Here’s a ginger tea recipe that’s pretty awesome.


Well, this one goes without saying–the best remedy in life is often to give yourself some time to recoup. Your body will heal from most abuses, including hangovers, if you just let it happen. If you can lay flat and sip miso soup, kombucha, natural sports drink or ginger tea, you’re on your way.

 Karaoke guy photo from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living

Glass Dharma: Free Glass Straws for Earth Day!

Fri, 2014-02-28 05:55

Glass Dharma, one of our favorite companies that makes sustainable, beautiful glass drinking straws is hosting another promotion and they are GIVING AWAY 1,000 free glass straws to celebrate Earth Day (Tuesday April 22 2014) for their 6th Annual Earth Day event! The following is a press release from Glass Dharma:

In celebration of Earth Day 2014, GlassDharma will give away 1000 free Glass Straws during the month of April.  This annual tradition highlights GlassDharma’s mission to increase glass straw use and awareness about alternatives to single use plastics. This is the 6th annual Earth Day event, and GlassDharma is excited to celebrate with you in style, with the elegance of glass! Our 2014 Earth Day giveaway features a “Plastic is Drastic” educational campaign, welcoming you into the conversation of how to be the “Pollution Solution” with plastic trivia. To find out how you can qualify for your free glass straw, please subscribe to the GlassDharma e-newsletter. Check your inbox on February 18th for the GlassDharma Newsletter with complete details and instructions. Make a Difference “Disposable” plastics have a large impact on our environment and this Earth Day you can learn how easy it is to make different choices to sustain our Planet. GlassDharma’s Earth Day trivia activity will go live on March 10th. After completing that activity, participants will complete a form with information about where to send their glass straw, and will receive a confirmation email at the conclusion of the entry process.  The first 1000 participants will receive a free GlassDharma straw!  Starting on April 1st, 2014, Glass Straws will be shipped out of Fort Bragg, California for the duration of the month.  No shipping charges will be applied to these free straw shipments. This offer is good in the USA only.  Inspiring others by example makes a lasting impact that multiplies over time. When you get your straw, show it off! GlassDharma Straws are Durable, Sustainable, and Elegant The GlassDharma Quality Control department ensures the quality of each and every straw. Offering an unprecedented lifetime guarantee, GlassDharma stands behind their product and promises that if it breaks, it will be replaced. GlassDharma straws are made from borosilicate glass, the safest and strongest glass commercially available; they are even dishwasher and microwave safe. Garnish your Glass GlassDharma straws not only replace their plastic and toxic counterparts, but their beauty and style lend to compliments and conversation.
  • Great for all hot or cold drinks
  • Perfectly stage specialty drinks – bubble teas, iced drinks, shakes, smoothies, and juices
  • Beautiful in cocktails – great accessory for stemware and martini glasses
  • Concerned about staining or damaging your teeth? Use for wine, coffee, teas, and acidic beverages
  • Kid friendly and safe
  • Easy to Clean with our cleaning brushes or in the dishwasher
  • Elegance at its best
One for Everyone GlassDharma straws are available in three collections: Simple Elegance, Beautiful Bend, and the color accented Decorative Dots. Offered in many lengths and widths, GlassDharma straws are available individually or in sets.  The accessory line includes cleaning brushes and hemp sleeves for carrying your straws on the go.  Custom etching services are also available, just call us! For more information on GlassDharma, please visit www.glassdharma.com.



Categories: Green Living

How to Help our Bees

Wed, 2014-02-26 05:06

In case you have not heard, our bee populations are in big trouble. Experts from around the world have been reporting on declining bee populations across the world, and the disappearance of our winged friends. Bee populations help pollinate the majority of our food crops around the world, and without bees pollinating our crops, our grocery stores would look very different indeed. Research has shown that GMO agriculture is affecting the bees, as is overuse of pesticides in conventional agriculture. One of the most shocking things I’ve ever seen was the hand-pollinating of apple trees in China, where there has been so much overuse of pesticides that the bees have simply disappeared. Watch the film More than Honey if you can!

There are lots of ways to help solve the bee problem: eliminate GMO agriculture to create safe, natural crops for our pollinators, reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides in agriculture and homes, and support bees to help them thrive. Grow native flowers and fruits to inspire the bees to visit your ‘hood, and try to keep some bees of your own to support their populations. And, always buy local honey to support the hard work of those bees already in your area!

To learn more about the state of our bee population, check out this great reposted article from our sister site, Eat. Drink… Better!

Colony Collapse Disorder: It’s a biodiversity thing. (via http://eatdrinkbetter.com)

Bee expert Dave Hunter did an open Q&A on colony collapse disorder and shared some eye-opening insights. Are you guys familiar with Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything?” It’s basically a space where celebrities and experts can have an open conversation…

Categories: Green Living

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Mon, 2014-02-24 05:42

We’re big fans of natural healing here at Green Living Ideas. There are so many wonderful cures found in seeds, roots and leaves! Best of all, these cures don’t have nearly as many side effects (or corporate interests!) as regular pharmaceuticals.

One of the most powerful natural medicinals is turmeric. It’s a root related to ginger, smaller in size and orange in color. Most famously, turmeric is used to help with inflammation, but it can also help with digestive issues, helps improve eyesight and leads to clear, healthy skin. It’s easy to grow too: check out our how to grow ginger post to learn more!

Recently on Green UPGRADER I wrote a lengthy post about the many health benefits of turmeric. Click through to read why Chinese, Indian (Ayurvedic) and Hawaiian traditional medical practices all consider turmeric to be one of the worlds most important medicinals.

my own homegrown turmeric!

Categories: Green Living

Container Gardening: The Best 16 Plants for Your Home Garden

Mon, 2014-02-24 05:42

All this ice and snow got you thinking about planning your springtime garden? Whether you are planting in the ground or undertaking container gardening, these 16 plants will be easy to grow. Most of them grow in a range of climate zones and will do well in ground in even in small containers. Choose plants that you want to eat and that will add variety and joy to your life. Always choose organic plants and organic pest control methods when possible, and delight in fresh, as-local-as-possible produce.

Best 16 Plants for Your Home Garden

  1. Pumpkins: Choose your favorite squashes or pumpkins (really the same thing, just depends on the region where it’s grown!); they need some space to climb but will produce prolifically.
  2. Basil: One of our favorite herbs! Not only is basil super beautiful and found in a myriad of colors and flavors, it’s an excellent addition to all you meals. Try making homemade pesto or this SuperGREEN salad with your homegrown basil.
  3. Ginger and Turmeric: Not only are ginger and turmeric super potent medicainals (read about the health benefits of ginger and turmeric), they are gorgeous plants that can be grown with little space. Add some tropical flair to your garden with these plants! Read here some tips for growing ginger easily!
  4. Garlic: Yes, the stinking rose, can be grown in your garden! Read here some tips and planting guides for home grown garlic.
  5. Lettuce: Lettuce is infinitely versatile and with so many varieties of this ubiquitous salad green it’s hard not to love it! Lettuce is one of the 15 plants that can grow in the shade too, to help you make the most of your garden.
  6. Peas: few things are cuter than pea shoots! These climbers will produce edible shoots and pods in the early spring. Use in salad or as garnishes.
  7. Kale: It’s not secret that kale is my most-loved vegetable for the kitchen and the garden. Even in the smallest plots I’ve been able to grow prolific amount of this hearty brassica plant. Lacinato, curly and Red Russion are the most common varieties, but experiment with them all. And here our favorite kale recipes if you need some cooking inspiration!
  8. Thyme: This fragrant herb is great for newbie gardeners. It’s a perennial, drought tolerant, hardy, and endlessly easy to use in the kitchen. This is a plant best purchased rather than grown from seed, and works in pots or in the ground. Use the tiny flavorful leaves in soups, salads, eggs or in fancy homemade cocktails.
  9. Collards: like kale, collards are in the brassica family and are wonderfully nutritious and delicious in the kitchen. Use them lightly sauteed anywhere you’d use kale or spinach, or use the leaves whole as healthy wraps for your raw meals.
  10. Parsley: Often used as a garnish, parsely is in fact a deliciously nutritious herb that can be a main ingredient in your salads, juices and meals. In fact, it’s one of the few herbs that helps detoxify your body naturally, so get growing today! It’s hardy and easy to grow, and it’s a lovely plant to have around!
  11. Radish: Radish might not be everyone’s favorite vegetable, but once you see these beauties grow it will be hard to resist. Bright pink, red, purple or white radishes and light greed edible leaves ensure that you’ll fall in love with them all over again!
  12. Passionfruit: This tropical beauty may not fruit in all climates, but it’s curly-cue tendrils and rapid growing rate will please most any gardener!
  13. Nasturtiums: a edible leaf and edible flower means nasturtiums are a love addition to your edible garden.
  14. Chives: A softer, sweeter member of the onion family, chives grow 6-8 inches high and have a very mild onion or garlic flavor. As a bonus they produce cute flowers are small mauve-pink and grown into a ball-like shape at the end of a strong stem rising above the plant’s leaves.
  15. Sage: Another beautifully fragrant herb, sage is great is soups, pastas and, if you are feeling classy, cooked in some brown butter. It’s strongly flavored and a little goes a long way. Easy to grow, nearly pest resistant and pretty!
  16. Mint: Who can argue with the fresh, clean flavor of mint? It has a tendency to creep around the whole garden, so do keep an eye on it. Make mint tea if there is a mint takeover!

Green Living Ideas is part of a funny project that allows bloggers all over the world to be involved in a large-scale Bingo game. To that end, we’ve created this adorable little video and the subsequent list of our favorite plants for your home garden to inspire you to get your green on!

Green Living Ideas would like to thank Content Amp for sponsoring this post.

Categories: Green Living

Geothermal Energy Potential in California!

Fri, 2014-02-21 16:45

This press release from Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) shares the great news that the potential for geothermal energy is largely untapped in the largest state in the United States. That’s good news for renewable energy sectors and bad news for the fossil fuel industries. And according to Planetsave there is still a lot of potential for US geothermal energy, so who knows what will be found in the next few years.
And no doubt, this is a super lucrative business to continue looking into as geothermal energy is expected to garner $278 million in health and environmental benefits!

GEA is is a trade association comprised of U.S. companies that support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit their website, subscribe to GEA’s newsletter here, follow on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Sacramento, CA (February 20, 2014)—As the California Air Resources Board is examining their new scoping plan for implementing the state’s ambitious climate law, AB 32, the leading geothermal industry group has issued a status report on the state’s geothermal resources that says they are still largely untapped.

Geothermal power is “a viable, cost effective, and plentiful renewable energy option to meet California’s climate goals,” GEA told CARB. Utilizing the Golden State’s geothermal resources can help achieve “carbon reductions with the least total cost and highest power system reliability,” GEA reports.

In brief, the status report shows that:

  • Geothermal power generated 4.4% of total system power in California in 2012, but could have generated substantially more;
  • Geothermal power produces some of the lowest life-cycle emissions when compared to almost every other energy technology and even some renewables;
  • Depending on the resource characteristics and plant design, geothermal power plants can be engineered to provide firm and/or flexible power;
  • Even with high upfront capital costs, geothermal power is a competitive renewable energy source;
  • About half of California’s identified geothermal resources are still untapped, and significant resources may remain undiscovered;
  • Geothermal power is key to achieving an expanded renewable power portfolio at the lowest total cost;
  • New technology will reduce geothermal power risks and can expand the supply curve to make more resources commercially available;
  • The Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area (SSKGRA) is considered by many to be the best opportunity for growth in California in the near term;
  • Distributed generation geothermal power and heating projects have potential in a number of areas, but are not eligible for the type of support provided other distributed generation projects;
  • Challenges to growth of utility scale plants include weak demand, inadequate transmission, permitting delays, and a lack of coordinated policies.

The full report, entitled REPORT ON THE STATE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN CALIFORNIA, is available at www.geo-energy.org.

Image is the Bumpass Hell hydrothermal area, Lassen Volcanic National Park, photo from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living

Farmscape: The Importance of Urban Farming

Fri, 2014-02-21 05:15

How do you start a revolution? Simply look around you are see what issues need to be solved, and figure out how you can be a part of the solution. Does this seem simplistic? Absolutely. But is it doable? Of course!

Entrepreneurs of all ages are creating jobs everyday to address pressing challenges of today, like excess waste, dependance of fossil fuels and lack of meaningful employment by turning to self-sufficiency and exploring the ways in which we can help our own communities thrive. For Jesse Dubois, the decision to make change happened after returning home from college and trying to figure out the rest of his life. His vision: create urban gardens that will supply food for the city; gathering dinner from outside one’s window; mobile farmers help us grow our own at home and sell vegetables throughout the neighborhoods. To have vegetable deliver be as ubiquitous as mail carriers. And so, Farmscape was born. Working with some local friends and is helping to envision a new Los Angeles (California).

The goal of Farmscape is to re-farm the city of LA. They seek to tear out yards and replace them with fertile, nutritious vegetables. In the TEDx talk with DuBois, he notes his inspiration as the country of Cuba, which began a massive change in food infrastructure following the collapse of the USSR and their oil imports. In the same way that Cuba re-farmed the nation, so too can American cities. Check out the inspiring TEDx video below to learn more about Farmscape and the future of food in LA.

What do you think is the future of food growing? How can your city begin working towards a better food experience?

Categories: Green Living

Improve your Indoor Air Quality

Wed, 2014-02-19 23:06

Many of us live in areas with decidedly poor indoor air quality. While we often think of countries like China and Indonesia as being the worst, cities in the United States and the UK are not really much better (and here’s an app to find out what your ozone looks like today). While big changes need to be made regarding fossil fuel use and emissions, there is something that we can all do to help improve our INDOOR air quality. Not that one is more important than the other, but indoor air quality is something you can fix really easily (and usually inexpensively) which can make a big difference for your health.

From our archives we have some great tips for improving indoor air quality (IAQ):

  1. Turn on hood fans when cooking to help expel fumes. Cooking, especially on a gas stove, releases chemicals that can contaminate the air, such as carbon monoxide. Use the fume hood fan when cooking and make sure it is vented directly outside the house.
  2. Turn on the exhaust fan when showering to limit moisture build up. Run the bath fan during showers to remove
    the heat and humidity; if you don’t have a bathroom fan, a small portable fan will do the trick. And keep the shower curtain or bathtub sliding door open after bathing to increase air circulation.
  3. Clean regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and pet-hair accumulation. A clean house is a healthy house (please tell my boyfriend this!). Every day, dirt and dust collect in our home. We track it in on our feet and shed it from our clothes and skin. These particles can become airborne, contributing to the pollutants and biological contaminants in the air. Regular cleaning can help limit the problem.
  4. Install low emitting furniture and finishes.New or recently installed building materials and furnishings can emit
    volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for products that are certified for low chemical emissions, and open windows when using paints, adhesives, sealants, and other materials that tend to offgas during installation. This is especially important for a healthy bedroom.
  5. Use cleaning products that do not emit chemicals into the air. Many products used to wash floors, countertops, and windows can offgas toxic or irritating chemicals. Avoid dangerous chemicals by selecting products that are certified for low levels of chemical emissions.
  6. Open windows to allow fresh air into your space. To achieve energy efficiency, we seal up our buildings and tend to keep our windows shut, trapping pollutants inside. From time to time, it’s good to open the windows and allow fresh air to move through our spaces, flushing out any stale or polluted air.
  7. Maintain your HVAC filters as instructed. Check, clean, or replace furnace and air filters regularly, at least every two months. Consider installing a “high efficiency particulate” (HEPA) filter.

And finally, one of the best things you can door for you indoor air quality is to bring some plants into your home. There are lots of types of plants that you can grow in the limited lighting of the home or office. And don’t worry you don’t have to do the work. Look for the best indoor plant hire service in your area to help you plan your bountiful home greenery. Here is our GLI list of 10 Houseplants that clean the air, and here’s another list of edible plants that help clean your air and flavor your kitchens with goodness!

What’s your favorite way to keep your air clean?



Window image from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living

BrightFarms: Changing the Way our Food System Works

Wed, 2014-02-19 05:06

It’s time for a revolution in the food supply chain.

BrightFarms, Inc has just announced a big step forward for their business. In this article from Clean Technica, we learn that BrightFarms has been working hard to make our supermarket produce more sustainable, more nutritious, and more delicious. By growing food on the roof of supermarkets, BrightFarms is able to increase the efficiency of the supermarket supply chain, decreasing dependance on fossil fuels for transport, reducing food waste and better tasting food. BrightFarms works to build turn-key farms for neighborhoods. They build the facility, manage the operation and cultivate the farmers in the area, and all the supermarket has to do is simply agree to purchase the fruits and vegetables from the roof. This cuts costs, helps urban agriculture, and improves our veggies. Sounds like a win-win-win.

BrightFarms, Inc Secures $4.9 Million For Business Expansion (via Clean Technica)

In a recent TEDx talk, BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot asked the audience to visualize the best-tasting tomato they had eaten in the last year. Then he asked everyone who had purchased it in a supermarket to raise their hands…

Categories: Green Living

KidWind Provides A Hands-On Renewable Energy Course

Tue, 2014-02-18 05:55

What better way to encourage more renewable acceptance than having kids learn about it at an early age? This great program works with kids across the United States in 2014, including some international events. According to this article from Sustainablog, KidWind has developed an impressive array of educational programming both for science educators wanting to introduce their students to renewable energy, and for students themselves. The KidWind Challenge, the organization’s signature program, gives students a chance to compete in building small, working wind turbines.  KidWind plans to host 35 of these programs across the United States in 2014, as well as two international events.

Have you ever worked with KidWind or similar projects? Would you child be interested in a project like this?

KidWind Provides A Hands-On Renewable Energy Course (via Clean Technica)

Originally published on Sustainablog. I’ve been passionate about educational programs for sustainability from sustainablog’s earliest days, so I wasn’t surprised at all to discover that I’d written about Minneapolis-based educational company…

Categories: Green Living

Sustainable Living: Make your Home Eco-Friendly (An Infographic)

Mon, 2014-02-17 05:26

There are dozens of ways to enjoy sustainable living: making your home more energy efficient, cutting out toxins in your body care products and making changes into your daily life that depend less on fossil fuels and more on natural sources. This lovely infographic helps you find some solutions for your eco-friendly home. Infographic courtesy of EcoSmart Fire.

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Categories: Green Living

Green Living with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Wed, 2014-02-12 18:39

This year marks the end of incandescent light bulbs. It is not illegal for retailers to sell them or for you to purchase them. But, they can no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States. For many of us who believe in green living, we say, “Good riddance!” Over the short lifetime of an incandescent light bulb, you would use five to ten times the original price of the bulb in electricity. Energy efficient bulbs like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have revolutionized the lighting industry. We will take a closer look at these two efficient bulbs.

Compact Fluorescent Lights

When it was decided in 2007 that it was time to do away with incandescent light bulbs, many believed that CFLs would become dominant due to the high price and impracticality of LEDs. CFLs are still wildly popular and less expensive than LEDs, but it looks like they may just be a stepping stone on the way to LED dominance.

There are a lot of benefits to CFL light bulbs. Here, we will focus on five of them:

  • High quality lighting – Originally, CFLs gave off a “cool white” color that seemed only appropriate for a morgue. The newer CFLs have improved on this quite a bit giving off an inviting and warm light.
  • Less expensive – Compared to incandescent bulbs, you save $45 over the course of the CFL’s life. Here’s five other ways to save energy at home!
  • Versatile – CFLs work anywhere incandescent lights are used.
  • Reduced water and air pollution
  • Efficiency – Compared to incandescent bulbs, CFLs are four times more efficient.

Light Emitting Diodes

By clustering the small LED bulbs, manufacturers have expanded their uses. Today, they are available in clusters of 180 or more and can be found with standard bases to fit in household fixtures. LEDs are the future of home lighting. In the last few years, engineers and researchers have worked to make the lighting characteristics of LEDs match what consumers are used to. Plus, the prices have gone down. Some other benefits:

  • LEDs last ten times as long as CFLs
  • LEDs use less than 33 percent of the amount of electricity CFLs use
  • Since they are energy efficient, LEDs run cool
  • Bumping and jarring will not affect LEDs, unlike incandescent bulbs with their fragile filaments
  • Great for use off the grid or in other remote areas due to the low power needs


As you can see, LEDs and CFLs are both great alternatives to incandescent bulbs. However, LEDs are king. If you are interested in extending your need to live green to your light bulb choice, 1lightbulbs.com is a great resource. They have the widest selection of affordable energy efficient lighting on the internet.


Green Living Ideas would like to thank 1lightbulbs.com for sponsoring this post.

Categories: Green Living

Edible City: The Movie

Wed, 2014-02-12 05:57

There are so many things wrong with our food system: massive food recalls, false advertising, miracle weight-loss pills and more. And everyday we learn more about how our corporate food structure is damaging the planet and harming our bodies in the process. But we can step away from all of that– everyday we have a chance for our own food revolution.

In neighborhoods, cities and communities across the world, people are coming together to build a more just, more sustainable food system. Activists are fighting against corporate takeover of our food supply, artisans are returning to oldways food production like fermenting, brewing and canning, and farmers are sprouting fields to inspire people young and old to eat more vegetables. One film that captures this excitement is Edible City: The Movie. Though the company is currently seeking distribution, you can watch the film below on YouTube. The film documents a broad spectrum of activists, organizations and inspired citizens and shows how everyone can get involved in transforming our food system.

Edible City introduces a diverse cast of extraordinary and eccentric characters who are challenging the paradigm of our broken food system. The movie digs deep into their unique perspectives and transformative work – from edible education to grassroots activism to building local economies — finding hopeful solutions to monumental problems. Check out their website to to learn more about the film and the movement.

“People are already seeing that the system [as is] isn’t working. But there are  other models out there to make our food system more socially just, more economically viable, more environmentally sound, and more important, more resilient.”



Categories: Green Living

Travel and Leisure: Make it Eco-Friendly!

Mon, 2014-02-10 05:07

Traveling is a fun, adventurous way to explore new things and meet new people. Many people believe traveling involves a lot of expenses, and traditional ways of travel can harm the environment. Luckily, there are a number of ways to experience travel and leisure time that are not only more friendly to your pocket, but more friendly to the environment too!. Whether you’re heading south to find some tropical warmth during the winter season, or just going a few hundred miles away- these tips can help you be budget and environmentally friendly.

1. Use Green Transportation

Back in the day, traveling meant loading up the station wagon and driving straight through to wherever you were heading. Now we know that cars and planes have a big carbon footprint. But there are a number of other ways to get to where you’re going. Riding your bike is a very adventurous option for physically fit people who are going a few states or coast-to-coast. The number of cross-country bikers has increased dramatically over the last decade. Taking the train, sharing your car with other travelers and using public transportation as much as possible can help lower your environmental impact.

2. Environmentally Friendly Accommodations

While many hotels are working to lower energy consumption, the fact remains that a large hotel consumes way more energy than a local home. With websites such as airbnb.com and couch-surfing, finding local, small-scale accommodations is easier than ever. If you must stay at a hotel, find one that is actively lowering energy consumption. You can also request that the staff not wash your sheets during your stay.

3. Eat and Shop Local

This is true all the time, but especially when you’re visiting someplace new. Particularly, if that someplace new is a developing country. Imports have a deleterious effect on developing nations and island nations, supporting the local economy by purchasing local foods, staying at locally owned bed and breakfasts or hotels, and purchasing locally made crafts are all wonderful ways to support local economies and limit the environmental impact of importation.

4. Volunteer On Your Vacation

A great way to give more purpose to your vacation is to volunteer at the many eco-centers developing around the world. Eco-tourism and volunteerism is becoming more and more popular, especially in South and Central America. This gives you and your family a wonderful opportunity to experience a new culture, learn some new things and have a lot of fun being with local peoples.

5. Limit Consumption

While on vacation it can be easy to adopt an extra-consumptive mindset, using justifications like, “I’m on vacation, what the heck” or other vague reasons to be excessive. Keeping a limited consumption mindset is a great way to lower your overall earth impact. Fun is in abundance if you step outside of the consuming mindset, you can find a lot of service oriented ways to enjoy your vacation. And, if you want to save money, there are plenty of things to do that are free. Hiking, swimming, visiting local museums (on a free day) or just wandering through a new city are all exceptional ways to enjoy yourself without spending a dime or having any negative impact.

Traveling is such a wonderful way to experience the diverse world around us. It’s possible to do it without being destructive to the Earth. Following these tips can help you lower your overall carbon foot print and ensure budget-friendly, environmentally friendly activities for the whole family.

Suitcase image from Shutterstock

Categories: Green Living