Green Building Using Thin-Film Solar

by Justin Thomas •

This is the new Ballard Library in Seattle. It’s a state-of-the-art green building which makes use of a sod roof, daylighting, and translucent thin-film solar collectors from Schott. It is listed in the American Institute of Architecture’s top ten green buildings.

Crayons Made With Soybean Oil

by Justin Thomas •

Today, virtually all crayons are made with petroleum wax. An optimal alternative, however, is to make crayons with pure soybean oil. One company, Prang, manufactures the soy crayons seen here. They are much less toxic, and they also write smoother and brighter without waxy flaking. Available from Blick Art Materials or eBay

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Optimal: Natural Linen Sheets by Area Simone

by Justin Thomas •

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We recently discovered these 100% natural linen sheets by Area Simone. Linen, which comes from the flax plant, is an optimal material for making sheets. Like hemp, linen does not require pesticides to grow. By contrast, 25% of all pesticides used in the world are sprayed on cotton. Linen is also 2 to 3 times stronger than cotton, has no …

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A Non-Toxic Stainless Steel Lunchbox

by Justin Thomas •

Here’s an interesting alternative to those regular old vinyl lunchboxes which have a tendency to leach phlatates and lead into your food. It’s a stainless steel lunchbox that will probably garner attention from your co-workers, fellow students or curious passers-by. Based on the idea of the Japanese Bento Box, the lightweight “To Go Ware” has two stainless bowls that sit …

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Efficient: Making Organic Beer

by Justin Thomas •

If you are going to brew beer at home, why not brew organic? You’ll have clean tasting, fresh beer without using ingredients that are not genetically modified, and not grown with pesticides. Organic brewmaking ingredients cost slightly more but the rewards are worth the expense (in our moderately humble opinion). On a more technical side, organic malts on average have …

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Carfree Cities: Where Are They?

by Justin Thomas •

Interested in knowing where you can find places free of cars? There’s an extensive list of carfree places around the world, available now on the Wikipedia. There’s also a book about Carfree Citites available. Here’s our review: Imagine life in a city free from the noise, stench, and danger of cars, trucks, and buses. Imagine that all basic needs, from …

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Gorilla Glue: A Solvent-Free Glue

by Justin Thomas •

Gorilla Glue is a non-toxic, solvent-free polyurethane glue. Natural glues like white glues (e.g. Elmer’s glue) or mastic are optimal, but this glue is much less toxic than most. It works well on wood, but it’s not as specific as most wood adhesives. It bonds pretty well on metals, stone, ceramics, and many plastics. It is waterproof, meaning it doesn’t …

renourish: A Guide to Green Graphic Design

by Justin Thomas •

Renourish is guide for graphic designer to help them practice their craft using greener techniques. The web site, created by Eric Benson, offers many green tips and pointers to green resources (which can be otherwise quite difficult to track down). Great reference.

Efficient: Eating Weeds

by Justin Thomas •

Weed ‘Em and Reap is a light-hearted but informative introduction to the free bounty of wild foods in lawns and woods, prairies and pastures. Even if you have no intentions of brewing up a crock of dandelion wine or tossing a salad of sour dock and purslane, you will enjoy reading Roger Welsch’s adventures in the world of weeds. We’re …

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Sunscreens Without Toxins or Nanoparticles

by Justin Thomas •

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Conventional sunscreens have a number of ingredients that have been linked to hormone disruption in animal tests and are readily absorbed by skin. Some these ingredients include: parabens, benzophenone, homosalate and octyl-methoxycinnamate. Also, sunscreens containing nanoparticles have come under scrutiny because they may be harmful to human tissue. Nanoparticles are added because they make titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreens …