Buzz about ecloth?

Am I the only one who hasn’t heard of e-cloth® cleaning cloths?

ecloth product line

Ecloth Product Line

What are ecloths and why is this product so cool? And is it green?

  • No need to use chemicals to clean with this cloth.
  • Requires only WATER no cleaning chemicals in order to grab dirt, dust and grim from surfaces trapping them in the cloth.
  • Using only water, e-cloth® removes over 99% of common bacteria, including E-coli and Listeria by locking bacteria away.
  • Non-toxic dust ‘magnets’.


Home Cleaning Set

Home Cleaning Set


How hard is it to take care of the e-cloth®? Not hard at all. For most day-to-day use, a warm rinse under the faucet is enough to ready your e-cloth® for your cleaning task. The mops/cloths are machine washable with warm to hot water and minimal laundry detergent. Do not bleach or use fabric softeners. Bleach degrades the microfiber, and softener coasts the fibers and wrecks their grabbing power. Also colors may run, an initial separate washing is advised. Tumble or air dry with low-lint items.


Very Futuristic – Smart Glass is Here

English: Smart Glass Projection Screen - On

English: Smart Glass Projection Screen – On (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Mistie Dawn

Smart Glass which has been seen hinted to in American popular culture, as early as 1982 in Blade Runner, is fast gaining main stream appeal. What is Smart Glass, aka Electric Privacy Glass (EGlass), you ask? It is glass that is electrically switchable glass or glazing which changes light transmission properties when voltage is applied. Smart Glass is usually used for windows and skylights. When activated, the glass changes from transparent to translucent, partially blocking light while maintaining a clear view through the glass. Another type of smart glass can provide complete privacy when activated.



English: Soundproof Smart Glass Русский: Русск...

English: Soundproof Smart Glass Русский: Русский: Звукоизолирующее смарт стекло – включено (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So what makes this glass of intrest to those who follow green technologies? Smart glass can darken in response to the increase or decrease of window temperature automatically, thus helping cut down heating and cooling bills. Smart Glass is another way to help make your home or building more energy efficient. The use of smart glass can save costs for heating, air-conditioning and lighting and avoid the cost of installing and maintaining motorized light screens or blinds or curtains. When opaque, liquid crystal or electrochromic smart glass blocks most UV, thereby reducing fabric fading.


Techie cool, I fully expect that we will hear about and see a lot more smart glass in the future!



NYC Glassworks




How We Built Our Raised Garden Bed – You Can Build One Too

English: This is a picture of hands sifting th...

Image via Wikipedia

Some of my fondest memories as a child are of the times spent with my grandparents in their raised garden bed. I remember my grandfather pulling carrots out of the dirt and washing them off with the hose. We would eat them right then and there. I remember the sweet juicy taste. I have never had a better tasting carrot since. I also remember my grandmother sending me out to pick strawberries. She had to know that more than half of the strawberries went directly in my mouth instead of the basket but she didn’t seem to mind. My grandmother made her own rhubarb preserves, pickles and other jarred fruit and vegetables, which were all grown in her garden. I love all these memories and have always dreamed of having my own garden. Finally over the summer I decided to stop dreaming and start doing. So I picked an under utilized section of our yard, that received at least 3 hours of sunlight a day, but was easy to access (right by the kitchen door). Now to implement:

  • We began with a sketch
  • Measured the area we wanted to place our raised garden bed (appx. 8ft x 8ft)
  • Found and bought 12 cedar beams (my grandmother’s garden was made with old railroad ties) and 2 lattice (for cucumbers and tomatoes)
  • We built the enclosure for the raised  garden bed with the cedar beams, stacking them 3 levels high, the ends overlapping (log cabin style), drilled holes (at the edges and center) through the top of the beams, and lastly secured the beams by screwing lag screws into the pre-drilled holes
  • There was already an existing drip line in the area, so we cut the drip line, used 90 degree elbows, and laid the drip line in a u-shape through the raised bed area
  • We then broke up the existing dirt, mixed in organic garden mulch, ammonia sulfate, and organic garden soil (we live in the desert and need to condition our soil before planting…your needs may vary)
  • Stapled plastic lining to retain and protect cedar beams from soil moisture
  • Since our raised garden bed is so large we decided to lay concrete blocks and cement pavers on top in order to create a path.

Materials List:

    • 12 Cedar 8 ft beams – $23.64
    • 12 Lag screws – $12.24
    • 20 ft Half inch hose $5.59
    • 6 Elbows (to raise the line up and 4 to make the u-shape) – depends on your individual needs – $1.97
    • 1 Roll of plastic lining (not necessary…up to you) – $9.98
    • 2 bags of Organic Garden Mulch – $8.94
    • 5lbs (1 bag) of Ammonia Sulfate (to condition soil) – $7.48
    • 8 bags of Organic Garden Soil – $55.76
    • 3 Concrete blocks – $4.41
    • 3 Pavers – $4.80
    • 2 Lattice – $59.94 (not necessary…your choice to add)

Total cost of materials (we bought at Home Depot):

Cost to build enclosure – $53.42

Cost of mulch, soil, pavers, lattice, etc. – $141.33

Not handy? Home Depot sells ready made raised garden beds enclosures. You still have to buy the rest of your garden supplies (mulch, soil, seeds, and plants) so it’s not any cheaper than building your own, in fact most are more expensive. Here are the pictures of our raised garden bed so far. In the first picture you can see the original drip line that is exposed:

Ceder Beam Garden

Placing the 8ft x 8ft Cedar Beams

water line

Removing old drip line

Laying Drip Line

Laying drip line in u-shape

Till Dirt

Breaking up the soil

compost soil

Mixed in organic compost

Organic Garden Soil

Added 8 bags of organic garden soil & cement blocks

Stone Walkway

Added pavers on top of cement blocks

What’s next? We still have to add the drips to the line, anchor down the 2 lattice, and cement the pavers to the concrete blocks. Then finally we will be read to plant. So stay tuned for our next post. Another great how-to resource for building a raised garden bed is this Popular Mechanics article.

Magazines not only for Kitty Litter …earn a dime too.

International Recycle Symbol

Image via Wikipedia

12 Fun and Creative Tips for Recycling Your Magazines



I love magazines for many reasons, I love the way they smell, I am mesmerized by high glossy photos, love the recipes, the self help and work out tips and am completely fascinated by the quirky scientific articles that I can rip out and post on the cork board in my office.

Unfortunately, it requires tons of paper to create one magazine and let’s not get into the negative emissions in the atmosphere from the production of magazines. According to Magazine Publishers of America only 20% of magazines are recycled at home.  However there is a light at the end of the tunnel. According to Green America, “Even during a down economy, magazines printed on recycled paper have increased their newsstand sales up to 114%, grown their store count, added advertising revenue, and built greater affinity with their readers. How is this possible? For dozens of publishers, going green has proved to be an easy and cost effective method for brand building and attracting new readers.” Read more on this here. It’s good to know that Magazine Publishers are trying to pick up some of the slack of their readers but even with this being said I can’t shake the guilty feeling of magazine waste piling up in a corners of my house and office. So I decided I had to think of some cool ways to recycle all these magazines.

Here are 12 fun and creative ways to recycle your magazines.

  • Dump your magazines into a basket or a cloth bag near your door so you can take a stack with you whenever you’re heading out for the day.
  • Live in the city take your magazines to the laundromat or I give them away to friends (my request is that they pass it along). Some really good friends of ours regularly drop off their stack of magazines to our house so that we can also enjoy their subscriptions too.
  • You can also donate your old magazines to the local library, school, senior center or day care near you.
  • Magazines are great material for kid’s art projects, decoupage, paper mache. I have even made great mixed media wall art for the house out of our old magazines.
  • Use your magazines as filler for shipping or use it as packing material. Shred or crumple it up and you are good to go.
  • Use scented magazine inserts (perfume or cologne ads) to line your clothes drawers and non scented to line your kitchen cabinets.
  • Use your magazines as wrapping paper for small gifts like for Valentines Day or other holidays! Don’t let all those beautiful glossy photos go to waste.
  • Use an old magazine as a floor mat cover for your snow boots.
  • Send magazines to the troops, to find out go to You could go to but they prefer you donate by sending a care package but if you send a care package include some of your magazines. I’m sure soldiers would love to be able to keep up date on things going on at home.
  • Do you have any antique, vintage, hobby or car enthusiast magazines then sell them online via a classified ads or craigslist. There are all kinds of magazine collectors out there who maybe looking for some your magazines.
  • Use your magazines as kindling for your camp fire or fireplace.
  • If you have a ton of magazines use them like Oktavilla did, recently featured by Style Frizz: build a wall in your house or office.

With all these great magazine recycling options you will never want to throw away another magazine again! Have any great suggestions that we didn’t mention? Please share them with us.

Have we completely lost our minds?!

Over the next few months ShoptobeGreen will feature family friend and contributor Erin D. Erin will share with us her experience in going from a 200 year old farmhouse in the rural North East to a more eco-friendly and energy efficient 3 season cabin. We have all dreamed about living off the grid but Erin and her husband are trying to make that dream a reality. ShoptobeGreen has talked Erin into sharing their experience with our readers. We have even talked her into sharing their videos and hand draw design concepts. Please leave your comments and any advise you might have and we will be happy to share it with Erin. Erin and her husband have sold their farmhouse and have begun the process for their new cabin.


Present-day September 2011, cue the crickets… I like to title this new chapter of our lives:

“Have we completely lost our minds?!”

Month 1:

The land is virgin and untamed (well, recently untamed it was farmland once upon a time)… The days are long and hard on this virgin-ish land, the nights are lulled (maybe not lulled more like screeched) with the song of coyote and bullfrogs. Woods, streams, bogs and bugs… A lot of bugs.. Did I mention the bugs? Alright fine, I don’t really have a problem with bugs in general. But mosquitoes, are the bane of human existence! I really don’t like mosquitoes, who does? What is the purpose of mosquitoes? Ok ok, yes they do feed frogs, birds, spiders, etc., which is a good thing! Hakuna Matata , yada yada… But really, do we need to have so many? And why do they love me so?!

But seriously, here’s the plan. We want to build, as mentioned earlier, a small (450 to 500 sq ft) three season cabin/cottage. We want a place to get away, one we don’t have to worry about when back in the city. We will build as local, environmentally friendly and self sustaining, as possible on a $30k budget. The wood to build will come from local pine and cedar, as well as reclaimed wood if possible. To be energy efficient we will heat primarily with a wood burning stove, wood cut by my husband from hardwood trees already dead or limbs fallen. We discussed solar panels; but the winters are so long, snowy, and gray, that unfortunately we think they’d only be a vanity endeavor (if we were in the southern regions we would use solar). The structure will be facing southwest to capture as much sunlight throughout the day, the back northeast end protected by a hill, both helping to warm and protect the cabin in the cold northern winter, as well as not needing to turn on lights until dusk. A compost toilet is a must, as well as a rain harvesting system for gray water. That’s the required list as of today. I’m sure there will be more, but we are on a budget. I have to keep reminding myself this, budget budget budget.

So, what’s been done (since the sale) in the past month? A road… Not a very well done road I might add. See, getting things done well and in a timely manner is always difficult when building and/or renovating, and when it’s in a rural area it’s even more difficult. There are only so many local contractors (3), and they are always busy. We’ve previously hired the gentleman who bulldozed this road, and he did a fantastic job in the past. This time around he looked at our virgin-ish land with it’s many mosquitoes, and didn’t seem so thrilled.. We had to pay and beg him for what ended up only a single pass with the bulldozer. He had a month to do the job properly, and yes we now have a road, but it’s a very uneven potholed dirt road that needs to be smoothed out and graveled before we can start construction.

That’s it. This is how far we’ve gotten in a month. I’m hoping (wishful thinking?) that this will all be done by Autumn 2012.

Too optimistic?

cabin concept drawing
Cabin concept drawing
cabin concept drawing side view
cabin concept drawing side view

Out with the old, in with the new..

Nature trail, upstate NY

Image via Wikipedia

Over the next few months ShoptobeGreen will feature family friend and contributor Erin D. Erin will share with us her experience in going from a 200 year old farmhouse in the rural North East to a more eco-friendly and energy efficient 3 season cabin. We have all dreamed about living off the grid but Erin and her husband are trying to make that dream a reality. ShoptobeGreen has talked Erin into sharing their experience with our readers. We have even talked her into sharing their videos and hand draw design concepts. Please leave your comments and any advise you might have and we will be happy to share it with Erin. I’m sure we all learn a lot! Enjoy:

Out with the old, in with the new…Or should I say, out with a 200 year old house and in with a raw piece of wooded land. Why? Because old farm houses are beautiful, but were built without any concern for energy efficiency.  Let me start from the beginning.. In 2000 my husband and I were living in The Big City and decided to start looking for a house in a rural area, an area he knew well from his youth. Surprisingly, the perfect house found us within two weeks of looking. So we purchased, without really thinking what it meant to live full time in the country. Don’t get me wrong, we love the country and all it’s bucolic charms! But coming from the city. Well, let’s say the theme music from the early 1960’s show Green Acres was banging around in our heads for a while. We bought the house and it’s 6 acres, as well as an adjacent but separate wooded lot of 40 acres. Nice and private, no noise from the neighbor in the apartment next door- a city dwellers paradise! But, here it is- the but…Old houses need a lot of attention. Roof repair, pointing the brick, flooding in the cellar, vacuuming up flies in the spring (yes, in the country this is a huge problem), heating a drafty paradise, etc. The upkeep goes on and on, but we happily lived the country life- for 5 years. Then, we decided that while we loved our home, we love the city more… So we moved back to the bright lights and constant noise of city dwelling, but kept the house and land. It was wonderful! The best of both worlds! Right? Well…

The drive from NYC to the  house takes 6 hours, which we knew, but had to go more often than we really wanted because:
1. We constantly worried about the house in winter with power outages.
2. Worried about the basement flooding in Spring and Autumn..
3.Worried in the summer when the lawn would get too high and it would take two days to cut…
4. Just worried about the house in general….

In the end it took us 5 years to figure out that it wasn’t realistic to have an old house and not live in it. Old houses are meant to be lived in, it was time to cut the cord. We decided to sell.

And as quickly as we found and bought the house in 2000, within weeks our house didn’t disappoint in attracting a very nice couple. As of last month; Michael and Scott have made our home, theirs. It’s important that we like the couple who bought our home, since we kept the 40 acres next door to build a three season cabin/cottage. Despite what some may think of city folk, we actually like to know and get along with our neighbors :-D.. Just not hear them through the walls.

What’s a MAGNAblade?

A unused razor blade. Gilette Mach 3. Composed...

Image via Wikipedia

New Discovery for all you regular shavers: MAGNAblade. It’s a new product on the market that extends the life of your razor blade. How? Well according to the MAGNAblade website by using their patented method of magnetic energy. MAGNAblade has a built-in magnetic force field that prevents the separation of the molecules on the edge of the blade. This prolongs the edge quality making it so your razor lasts longer. Why is this eco-friendly?

  • Not only does this save you money it also lowers the amount of landfill waste.
  • There no moving parts and no batteries.

According to Recycling; “The US population discards each year…2,000,000,000 razor blades.” Wow! That’s a LOT of razor blades for America alone! Go to the MAGNAblade website to view a product demo video. I plan to try MAGNAblade out for the next few months. I typically go through one razor per month so I’ll check back-in to let all of you know how well it works.