Category Archives: Recycled

EconoGreen Plastics(TM) bags

Looking for an eco-friendly alternative to your typical plastic trash bag? Check out the line of EconoGreen Plastics bags (and dropcloths) from the whimsically named Jig-A-Loo company.

Jig-A-Loo claims the bags are made from 100% recycled plastic and that they will completely biodegrade leaving “no harmful residue or toxins” in about two years in the environment. (Traditional plastic bags might take up to 1,000 years to degrade in the environment, according to one source I found.)

For a good analysis of the pros and cons of biodegradable plastic bags, check out this article at

As far as I’m concerned, if you have a choice, it’s typically better to pick a product that’s made from recycled materials and biodegrades as quickly as possible. On both counts, EconoGreen Plastics bags seem to fit the bill.

Incidentally, the bags are also made in North America. For U.S. Consumers, that means fewer resources were used to transport the bags from point of manufacture to point of sale.

Where to Buy – Use the Store Locator on the Jig-A-Loo website to find a retail location near you. You can also buy through the Jig-A-Loo website ($3.99 for 30 tall kitchen bags).

Disclaimer – Jig-A-Loo sent me a free package of EconoGreen bags to review.


Blog Talk Radio – Vapur, Radley London, Anvil Eco, YogaFit, ECOS, Skoy, GlacialLight and Sylvania

Tune in Wednesday March 17th at 8 p.m. Central Time (9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific) to the show on Blog Talk Radio for reviews of these eco-friendly products.

(If you’re unable to listen to the show live, you can always download it later and listen to it at your convenience.)

Have questions or comments about other products we’ve reviewed in the past? Call in to the show (347-945-6594) and share your thoughts!

Vapur 16-ounce Reusable Water Bottle ($8.95 via Amazon)

YoGen Mobile Charger ($49.99 via YoGen website)

Radley London Umbrellas and Totes made from post-consumer PET plastic bottles and other recycled materials.  ($50 for umbrellas, $35 for totes). Note that only the Nostalgia and Beside the Seaside styles within the Umbrella collection are made using recycled materials.

Sylvania Ultra LED high performance series 8-watt bulb ($29.98 via

Floodlight-style LED GlacialLight (GL-BR30, $44.95 via C. Crane Company)

ECOS Laundry Detergent ($46 for 4-pack of 100-ounce bottles via

YogaFit jacket made from 70% bamboo ($25.99 via YogaFit website) Correct link and image posted on 3/24.

Skoy Cloth 100% biodegradable cleaning cloth ($5.99 for a 4-pack)

Anvil Knitwear Eco (available for direct purchase here) collection including AnvilRecycled T-shirt ($10) made from 69% recycled cotton…

….AnvilSustainable T-shirt ($12) made from recycled PET plastic bottles and transitional cotton (grown on farms that are striving to obtain organic certification)…

….AnvilSustainable fleece sweatshirts ($37) made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles…

…and AnvilOrganic T-shirts ($12) made from 100% certified organic cotton

To hear reviews of all these products, discuss any past reviews on or talk about whatever eco-friendly products you’ve got on your mind, remember to tune in Wednesday March 17th at 8 p.m. Central Time (9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific) to show on Blog Talk Radio.

Disclaimer – All of the companies mentioned above sent me free samples of their products for testing purposes.

Update – Did you miss the live Blog Talk Radio broadcast? You can still hear the show at your convenience by clicking the button below…

Listen to Aaron Dalton on Blog Talk Radio

HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer

HP Photosmart A640 Compact=In the old days of film cameras, you’d go on vacation, come home, dither for a while, then take your film to a developer (or mail it off) and end up with a handsome set of blurry 4×6 prints of family members with the tops of their heads cut off.

The good news is that nowadays with digital cameras we can perfectly compose works of art using the screens on the back of the cameras and store hundreds or even thousands of photos on a single memory card.

But somehow – most of the time – nobody actually has time to sort through all those images and print out the best ones.

I know that we’ve got years of photos sitting on hard drives and stored on photo-sharing websites, but only a handful of prints.

That’s why I was so eager to test the HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer. As HP says, the printer lets customers view, edit, create and personalize photos using the TouchSmart control panel.

What makes it eco-friendly? First of all, it’s small. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the whole package isn’t much bigger than a small toaster. Making something small generally means using fewer raw materials.

Second, it’s Energy Star-rated as energy efficient.

In addition, nearly 1/3 of the printer’s body is made from recycled plastic. You’d never know this just by looking at the printer, as it looks and feels as solid and sleek as any other piece of electronics these days. I continue to be impressed at the way that recycled plastic can look just as good as ‘virgin’ plastic.

And the printer itself is so small and compact that it can easily be carried from one place to another using the included reusable tote made from recycled plastics. (By shipping the printer within this tote, HP has really managed to cut out a lot of unnecessary packaging waste.)

How did the printer work in action? Initially, I thought the quality was a little below photo lab standards. Looking closely at certain parts of the picture, I could see a linear pattern where the printer had put down ink. As the printer got warmed up, the quality seemed to improve, although I still feel like you’ll get somewhat better quality from a lab.

What HP does give you is convenience and ease-of-use. We printed photos both by connecting the printer to a desktop computer with a standard (not-included) printer USB cable, and also by plugging a memory card directly into the printer. Both worked just fine, although the computer option seemed to work better since I had trouble locating specific images on my memory card using the printer’s touch-screen display.

We also had some issues where printed photos were cropped a bit differently than they displayed on the computer. The issue seemed to occur a bit randomly and did not necessarily seem to be linked to the size or shape of the image as displayed on the computer screen. To be honest, I didn’t delive into the instruction manual to see if there was some way of getting around this cropping problem.

Also note that you’ll need to take both paper and ink costs into account when determining if the printer is right for you. We typically managed about 40 photos per cartridge. HP did include a handy, eco-friendly postage-paid envelope (folded nicely into a tiny package) for returning spent ink cartridges for recycling.

What’s the final verdict? Between its recycled plastic content, its energy efficiency and its small size, the printer seems like a fairly Green product. I may not be smitten with the print quality, but for procrastinators like myself an HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer could be just the ticket for getting some of your photos off the screen and into the real world on paper that can be handed around, put in a wallet or in a frame and hung on the wall.

Finally being surrounded by physical, tangible reminders of happy moments from the last few years? That’s pretty sweet.

Where to buy:

Buy directly from HP for $149.99 or from for $99.99.

Disclosure – HP loaned me an A646 printer for testing. I sent it back when the test was complete.

Favorite Products of 2009 — Epicurean Cutting Boards, Sylvania Living Spaces CFL bulbs, prAna Sutra Pant and much more!

Welcome to the second annual roundup of my favorite Green products I had a chance to review in 2009:

Cut on recycled cardboard? You betcha.

1. Epicurean Cutting Boards, particularly those made from recycled cardboard.

2. Sylvania Living Spaces CFL bulbs. Affordable bulbs offering the usual CFL energy savings with better-quality light. What’s not to like?

3. prAna’s tough but lightweight men’s Sutra Pant, woven from a combination of hemp and recycled PET. I have a feeling these pants will last for a long time. I’m pretty impressed with prAna’s total clothing line, which incorporates lots of bamboo, hemp and recycled fabric while using quality workmanship and cool designs.

4. Green Pieces affordable, biodegradable puzzles made from recycled paper and implanted with wildflower seeds. Great idea!

5. It wasn’t specifically marketed as a ‘green product’, but after six months of use I’m still super-impressed with the performance, size and especially the energy efficiency of my new desktop PC, the Compaq Presario CQ2009F. Of course, it was so affordable and efficient that Compaq discontinued it (grrrr…) but you can probably find similarly small and efficient PCs from various manufacturers now. If you’ve been using an older PC and you upgrade to one of these mini desktop machines, you could your computing energy usage by 60-70 percent!

The incredibly efficient GeoBulb-II is now much more affordable.

6. The incredibly energy-efficient GeoBulb-II LED light bulb. Using just 7.5 watts of electricity, the cool white version of the bulb is designed to deliver as much illumination as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Note that the price of this bulb has dropped by 50% in just five months since I first reviewed this product. It’s now somewhat more affordable at $49.95. Meanwhile, the next generation GeoBulb-3 has hit the shelves, costing $99.95, but apparently using a tiny bit less energy (7 watts) to deliver more luminosity and last nearly twice as long (50,000 hours)!

7. A2B Electric Two-Wheeler. I rode several electric bikes in 2009. If price were no object, this is the one that I would buy. It was the most fun, the best-looking and offered the most comfortable ride. (If you look around a little, it seems like some dealers are now offering the A2B for a few hundred dollars under MSRP – i.e. around $2500.)

8. Reynolds Wrap 100% Recycled Aluminum Foil – works just as well as the non-recycled kind, but requires much less energy to produce and keeps trash out of landfills. Brilliant.

9. Soft, comfortable, durable and eco-friendly bamboo clothing from Ivee. For yoga, fitness or just lounging around, Ivee Bamboo Clothing has got you covered.

10. Dr. Oetker Organic Muffin Mix and If You Care unbleached baking cups. A muffin mix on the top 10 list? Oh yeah, these are some tasty eco-friendly muffins 🙂
And that’s all folks for 2009. Have a very merry holiday season and a wonderful New Year’s celebration. I’ll do my best to bring you reviews of lots more exciting Green products in 2010.

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for making this site better, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I welcome your ideas for making even better in the year ahead.

Thank you for reading and for caring.

– Aaron Dalton, Editor,

Revenge Is… Organic and Recycled T-Shirts

Organic cotton and recycled PET t-shirts from Revenge Is...

This woman appears to be calmly plotting her eco-revenge...

What do you get when you mix eco-friendly organic cotton with recycled PET fiber spun from plastic bottles?

Thanks to Revenge Is…®, you get some seriously soft and comfy t-shirts for men ($32), women ($32) and tots ($21).

Buy a blank shirt to keep your vengeful eco cred undercover, or go for a bold graphic design like my fave, the Earth Day t-shirt.

Usually I would resist spending more than $30 on a t-shirt, but I have to say that the quality and softness of these shirts – plus their eco-friendly materials of course – makes them appealing. I also respect the fact that they are made in the USA and seem built to survive numerous trips through the wash-dry cycle.

For more info on the eco-friendly shipping and manufacturing steps that Revenge Is… has taken for its shirts, check out this page.

With all due respect to George Herbert, English clergyman, who apparently originated the expression “Living well is the best revenge,” I think we need to update that sentiment to 21st Century standards and note that living Green may be an even better revenge.

Where to buy:

Get your revenge online via the Revenge Is… website.

Disclosure – Revenge Is… gave me a t-shirt to review.

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

In August 2008, I reviewed an energy-efficient Eureka vacuum cleaner called the envirovac.

At the time, I gave the envirovac a thumbs up for performance, design and value. The bagless washable canister and filter meant that the vacuum wouldn’t have any obvious recurring costs beyond its ultra-reasonable $72.22 price (via Wal-Mart).

But not everyone likes an upright vacuum. You can be an upstanding citizen (or even a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade) and still prefer a canister vacuum for example. (Here’s a webpage by one canister-lover.)

So I was happy to have the chance to test the new Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum that debuted in the US just a couple of months ago.

Although it sounds like some sort of weapon that 007 would use to dispatch his enemies in secret, the UltraSilencer Green is actually just a really quiet vacuum (maximum 71 decibels). If other vacuums sound like garbage trucks, the UltraSilencer Green is like a well-tuned Mazda Miata.

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

The UltraSilencer is not only compact and nicely designed, it’s also lightweight and easy to transport around the house. The Electrolux website says the vac tips the scales at approximately 12 lbs. For comparison, Wal-Mart lists the shipping weight of the envirovac as nearly 20 lbs., though the comparison is obviously not apples-to-apples since packaging can certainly add to the shipping weight.

And while Eureka had packaged the envirovac in a recycled box, Electrolux goes one step further by reportedly using 55% recycled materials in the construction of the UltraSilencer Green, while making the vacuum itself 90% recyclable. I love the cradle-to-cradle design philosophy at work here, and Electrolux says that using the recycled materials in building the UltraSilencer Green saves 2 liters of crude oil and 80 liters of water per vacuum cleaner. ((Note that there are various UltraSilencers made by Electrolux. I presume that only the Green one has the recycled/recyclable characteristics.)

From a performance standpoint, I have to admit that I probably like the feel of upright vacuums a bit better, but I did appreciate the light weight and flexibility of the UltraSilencer Green’s long hose. With enough use, I’d probably get used to manuevering the UltraSilencer Green around the apartment. Suction was certainly more than adequate enough to pick up small debris from hardwood floors and low-pile carpet. (In fact, the suction was strong enough to lift entire unsecured carpet tiles right into the air!)

I only really have one major gripe about the UltraSilencer Green. Although the Electrolux UltraSilencer Green is advertised as being 1/3 greener than comparable vacuums (presumably canister vacs), its 1250-watt maximum power usage is still significantly higher than the 960-watt needs of the 2008 envirovac. Since I like to that that efficiency marches hand in hand with progress into the future, it would have been nice if the UltraSilencer Green had used fewer than 960 watts, but perhaps canister vacs just have higher power needs (and better suction?) than upright vacs…

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

Electrolux UltraSilencer Green canister vacuum cleaner

Where to buy:

You can buy the Electrolux UltraSilencer Green online through Bed Bath & Beyond for $299.

Disclosure – Electrolux lent me an UltraSilencer Green vacuum to review.

Marcal Small Steps and CVS Earth Essentials paper products

Marcal Earth Essentials line of household products made from recycled paper

Marcal Earth Essentials line of household products made from recycled paper

Back in March, I talked about the importance of buying recycled paper products in order to save old growth trees. I wrote about some available options including Green Forest, Earth Friendly and Seventh Generation.

Recently I’ve had a chance to try some additional recycled paper products from Marcal and CVS. Based on my experience both brands, I think there’s no logical reason for an eco-conscious consumer to keep buying non-recycled paper products.

Even a few years ago, I have to admit that I wasn’t happy with the quality of recycled paper products. I remember one time buying brown recycled paper towels that pretty much disintegrated on contact with water. It was a long time before I bought another roll of recycled paper towels.

But both the CVS Earth Essentials brand of paper towels and Marcal Small Steps perform comparably to plenty of their non-recycled counterparts. (Sure, they don’t have the softness and strength of premium paper towels like Viva, but for a disposable paper product, I’ll happily accept a little less durability and aesthetics in exchange for a major improvement in eco-friendliness.)

One thing to keep in mind is that the percentage of recycled material and the percentage of post-consumer recycled material can differ among brands and even within brands when looking at different types of products.

CVS Earth Essentials 100% recycled fiber paper towels

CVS Earth Essentials 100% recycled fiber paper towels

So, for example, both Earth Essentials and Small Steps paper towels are labeled as having 100% recycled content, but the Earth Essentials towels say that they have a minimum of 60% post-consumer content, while the Small Steps towels don’t list the percentage of post-consumer content. (A Greenpeace report says that both Small Steps paper towels and paper napkins actually have an impressive 70% percent post-consumer content, but then notes that Small Steps facial tissues only have 30% post-consumer content.)

How do the products perform in real life? As noted above, both Earth Essentials and Small Steps towels get the job done in competent fashion. They even look pretty much identical – white (but not blinding white thanks to their avoidance of chlorine bleaching) with a heart-shaped design. Under close examination, the Earth Essentials towels seem a little bit more substantial, but the difference is slight. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either paper towel (or with the 365 brand recycled paper towels from Whole Foods Market, which contain 80% post-consumer recycled paper content according to their packaging and the Greenpeace report cited earlier).

I also had a chance to test the Small Steps napkins (excellent, but packaged in way too much heavy-duty plastic) and the Small Steps facial tissues (not luxurious, but perfectly acceptable if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of nasal pampering in order to save trees).

By the way, Marcal may be making such good recycled paper products thanks to a wealth of expertise gathered over more than 50 years of producing recycled products. A Marcal spokesperson says that Marcal products have been 100% recovered fiber/recycled paper for more than a half century.

The fact is that buying recycled paper products should no longer be seen as a sacrifice. As with other eco-friendly products, the cost and performance is often the same or even better than with non-recycled products.

As a side note, CVS is using some other interesting materials in its Earth Essentials brand. You can now buy disposable plates and bowls made from bagasse – the pulp or residue left over from sugarcane processing.

The unbleached bagasse plates and bowls in the Earth Essentials collection are more sturdy and aesthetically pleasing than many traditional paper plates/bowls. In fact, I’d say they are comparable in sturdiness to disposable plastic plates and bowls, with bagasse having the added advantages of being microwavable, biodegradable and resistant to both oil and water. Depending on what you put in them, you may even be able to rinse and reuse the bagasse plates and bowls a couple of times.

By the way, as I mentioned in my review of the Staples bagasse notebook last year, bagasse paper products have a delightful smoothness to them. I hope that more companies will consider replacing some of their paper pulp products with bagasse in the near future.

Where to Buy:

You can find some of the CVS Earth Essentials products at The Earth Essentials paper towels were recently on sale with three rolls for $1.99. Bagasse plates and bowls have an MSRP of $2.50 for packs of 15.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for online (I couldn’t find the bagasse plates and bowls), try visiting a CVS store near you.

Marcal says that its Small Steps products will be sold at Walgreens and Kmart stores nationwide, but that not all stores had the products in stock when we checked a few months ago. To be safe, use the Store Finder to find a retailer near you selling the Marcal Small Steps recycled paper products.