Reminder: A Few Days Left to Win an Organic Shampoo and Conditioner Bar!

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

no-bottle shampoo

The lovely ladies at Greyslater have offered up a set of organic no-bottle shampoo and conditioners to one Green Upgrader reader, and there are still a few days left to win!

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spring for pricey organic shampoos that come in a single use plastic bottle, right? The no-bottle shampoo and conditioner from Gear Head leaves the waste behind by changing the shape of shampoo.

The gals at Greyslater, a brand new online eco-boutique,  just launched their site last month, and the Gear Head shampoo and conditioner bars were some of the first products they featured. They want to give away the shampoo bar and conditioning bar, plus a mesh bag to hang them in the shower. The conditioning bar is actually 2-in-1, and if they’re kept dry between uses (thus the bag), the bars will last as long as two regular 8oz bottles of shampoo.

How to Enter

Pretty awesome, right? There are a few ways to enter, and each one gets your name in the hat, so do one, a couple, or all of these!

Just remember to leave a comment on the original post for each thing that you do, so that we can be sure to count all of your entries. We’ll choose a winner on Monday, January 9th!

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  3. Waste Free Haircare: Shampoo Without the Bottle

Organic Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Winner

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

no-bottle shampooThanks to everyone who entered our giveaway for an organic shampoo and conditioner bar set from Greyslater! We used a random number generator to choose a winner, and the winner is….

Random Number

Gloria who said, “I am very curious about the shampoo bar, and would be really interested in trying one!”

We’ll get in touch with you ASAP, so that you can claim your prize!

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Spotted: Epic Yarnbomb

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

bike yarn bomb

You know we love a good yarnbomb around here, and this one that the folks over at Street Art Utopia shared combines yarnbombing with something else close to my heart: bikes! I just discovered this street art site this morning and am slowly becoming obsessed with it. There’s so much guerrilla art eye candy!

History of the Yarnbomb

Yarnbombing got its start back in Houston, Texas in 2005 when one savvy crafter, Magda Sayeg and a few of her pals decided to liven up their urban landscape by covering things like lamp posts, street signs, and benches with yarn.

The group was called Knitta Please, and they kept up the yarn bombing goodness until around 2007. Sayeg still yarnbombs, for fun and profit! In 2010, she covered a bus in Mexico City, and is working now on covering the air conditioning ducts at Etsy headquarters.

Since 2005, yarnbombing has caught on all over the world. You can see bursts of knitted color in almost any major city, and there’s even an International Yarnbombing Day!

Have you gus spotted an awesome yarnbomb near you? I’d love to hear about it or see a photo!


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Reader Tip: Hydroponics for Beginners

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader


Reader Brandon Koots is a 15-year-old student from Curacao who’s been growing his own food for over 4 years. He runs a site where he talks about hydroponics and gardening, and he shared some great tips on starting a simple hydroponics system, called a “raft system.”

Build a simple raft system in just a few minutes

Hydroponics is an easy way to grow your own food. It can be made very small and put anywhere you want. It reduces work, and you don’t have to water your plants, since  that happens automatically. That means that you save more time with watering plants, and you save more water because you keep using the same water over and over.

A raft system is a hydroponics system where the plants grow in a medium and their roots hang in the water. This system is easy to set up and is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of space. It is commonly used in very large commercial gardens, but you can make a smaller one to use at home.

In a hydroponic system you can plant more food than in the same area of soil. The plants grow faster than normal, and it hydroponic plants are less prone to diseases than when they are in soil.

hydroponics how to


  • a knife or drill
  • a plastic bin (size doesn’t matter)
  • some plastic cups
  • a marker
  • a ruler
  • an oxygen pump – choose one that comes with an airstone

Here are the steps:

1. Measure the cup’s diameter. Then, drill holes that are slightly smaller into the lid of your bin, so the cups won’t fall in the bin. If you don’t have a drill, you can use a knife. For example: I used a cup with a diameter of 7 cm, so I made 6×6 cm squares. If you heat up the knife, it will cut through the plastic lid much more easily.

cutting the holes

2. Start making holes in the cups. This is how the water will get to the roots. You can make the holes with a knife, scissors, or a heated nail. The more holes you make the better.

cutting the cups

3. Add water to your bin. If it is hydroponics, remember to add nutrients for the plants, but if you’re using your raft system for aquaponics (see below), put only the fish in the water. Choose your fish based on the size of your bin and your climate. I use guppies, since these don’t become larger than 6 cm and are perfect for the hot climate here. Ask at your local pet store to find which fish are best for your aquaponics setup.

4. Place your oxygen pump in the bin. Put the pump’s airstone into the bin with water. This is important, so that the plants or fish get enough oxygen.

5. Fill the cups with your growing medium. Place the cups into their holes and fill them with the medium. The best medium is hydroton, because it keeps the water at the perfect temperature and also the pH at the perfect temperature. The downside to hydroton is that it can be expensive, so you can also use gravel or crushed coconut.

hydroponics growing medium

6. You’re ready to plant your plants in the system! I’ve planted 3 peppers, 1 celery and 1 tomato. But you can plant anything you want in this system.

You can also use your raft system as an aquaponic system

The only extra supplies you’ll need are fish and fish food. Aquaponics has almost the same advantages as hydroponics. It:

  • reduces work that has to be done in a garden
  • helps you to save more water
  • requires less space.

And in an aquaponics system you can grow fish while you’re growing vegetables at the same time!

pepper plants in my hydroponic gardenThey say that the plants’ roots shouldn’t be in the same water as the fish. But I don’t think that it matters. I have a few peppers growing in a raft system and look at them, they’re growing great!

Extra tips:

  • If you have another bin, you can fill it up with water and put it in the sun to create algae to feed your fish.
  • If you’re using a transparent bin for your raft system, you should paint it white. Otherwise algae will start growing into the bin, and algae take the oxygen out of the water.

My name is Brandon and I’m a 15 year old gardener from Curacao. I’ve been growing my own vegetables for almost 4 years now mostly in hydroponics and aquaponics. I write gardening tips on my blog and right now I’m writing my own gardening book too.

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DIY Bead Board Chalkboard for List-Making

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

craftRECYCLED logoDIY Chalkboard

I spotted this very cool, handmade bead board chalkboard at a local coffee roaster. They use theirs to keep track of vendors, but you could use it for any list-making that you want! The ridges in the bead board are perfect for keeping your writing in line. (In line! Get it?)

DIY Bead Board Chalkboard


  • Bead board, cut to whatever size you need
  • Medium grain sand paper
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Paint Brush
  • 2 short wood screws
  • Picture hanging wire


  1. Use your sand paper to sand down the rough edges of your bead board.
  2. Grab your chalkboard paint and brush, and go to town! It will probably take 2-3 coats to get a nice, even surface. The trick with painting bead board is getting into those nooks and crannies with the brush. I use a stabbing motion to get at those hard-to-reach places when I’m painting bead board. Let it dry completely.
  3. About 1/3 of the way from the top of your bead board, screw in a wood screw on either side of your bead board. Wrap the picture wire around the back of each screw, and use the wire to hang it from the wall.

Sourcing Bead Board

If you buy the bead board new, this isn’t really an eco-friendly project. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can track down scrap bead board to use instead.

  • Check out your local Re-Store. The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store takes in all sorts of odds and ends from home improvement and construction projects. You’ve got a really good chance of finding a piece of bead board there.
  • Freecycle. Freecycle is a great resource for finding all sorts of items to repurpose, and bead board is no exception. Find your local Freecycle group, and send a wanted message!
  • Professional reclaimers. You can also look for companies like Barnwood Designs that specialize in reclaimed wood.

Have you guys done any fun projects with upcycled bead board or other found wood? I’d love to hear what you’re making in the comments!

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Spotted: Wine Box Container Garden

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

wine box container garden

I know, spring is a long ways off, but the beauty of container gardening is that you can grow your plants in a sunny indoor spot when the weather gets too cold!

This wine box container garden from LLH Designs is such a simple, sweet way to create reclaimed containers for growing herbs, greens, and other plants that are happy in containers. Linsey started hers back in March and has them set up outside, but you could just as easily stick these beauties on a table under a sunny window.

Sourcing Wine Boxes

Want to get your hands on wine boxes to try this out? Try asking around at the local liquor store or grocery store. I bet they have some in the back that they’d be happy to part with if you ask really nicely. If stores around you are a bust, you can also find second hand wine boxes at the thrift store and sometimes even on eBay.

Via: Pinterest

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How to Make Your Liquid Dish Soap Last Longer

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Upgrader

Dish Soap

If you do any cooking at home at all, you probably use liquid dish soap. I don’t mean the sort for the dishwasher, but the kind for hand-washing your dishes. Not only do we seem to go through our liquid dish soap quickly, it can be pricey, especially if you’re opting for eco-friendly dish soap.

Whether you make your own liquid dish soap or buy it at the store, it seems to run out at the most inopportune times, doesn’t it? I feel like we make most of the last-minute trips to the store around our house for two things: cat litter and dish soap. You can’t really push it with cat litter, but last time we were out of soap, I found a great way to stretch the bottle for a couple more washings! Here’s how:

  1. Fill the bottle halfway with tap water.
  2. Shake really well.
  3. Apply liberally.

There’s enough soap residue in the bottle to do at least a few more dishes, and maybe more! We “ran out” of soap days ago, and I’m still using the bottle that we refilled. Since the soap is super diluted, it’s going to take a lot more to get a lather going, but it’s all soap that would have otherwise been wasted, so just use lots!

Have you found any simple ways to make things last around the house? I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Jek-a-Go-Go

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