Summer’s Coming, Cool Off with These Eco Friendly Cocktails

April 25th, 2011

Summer is on its way and it will soon be the season for sitting out on the deck, admiring the view and cooling off with a nice tasty adult beverage. The good news is that more and more liquor companies are making an effort to produce their wares in a more sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.

Upon learning this the ever responsible TTP staff felt that we owed it to our followers and readers to sample some of these “green” liquors in the form of a few summer cocktails, purely of course for the purposes of research. After extensive amounts of the aforementioned research the following were our favorites:

The Green Martini

A company called Square One make a terrific organic vodka that practically cries out to become the primary ingredient for a Classic Martini:

2 1/2 oz Square One Vodka

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish

orange or Angostura bitters (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes.
  2. Stir for 30 seconds (Or shake ingridients in a mixer should you prefer the 007 way)
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Add a dash of orange or Angostura bitters to taste
  5. Garnish with the olive or lemon twist.

Remember, if you have guests and they ask for their martini “very dry” that really means leaving out the vermouth altogether.

The Overflowing Cup

Using a good organic gin like the one produced by Distillery 209 you can create this eco friendly twist on the classic Pimms Cup #1. Mix one part gin with 3 parts organic lemonade or lemon soda (you can also use ginger ale). Crush a few fresh mint leaves in ice and mix it all together . Add a twist of lemon, a slice of orange, and a slice of cucumber to garnish and you have a fruity, eco friendly libation that hits the spot on even the hottest days.

Blueberry Hemp Shake

This milkshake like cocktail is actually brimming with anti-oxidants so if you need an excuse to indulge – there it is. Again, we used Square One vodka but the choice of liquor is actually up to individual taste.

To create this fairly healthy adult beverage you will need:

2oz Square One Organic Vodka

1 1/2 Cups Pure Water

5 TB Hemp Seeds

3 TB Agave Nectar

1 TB Coconut Butter (optional)

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 10oz Package of Frozen Wild Blueberries

1 Cup Frozen Banana

Pinch of Sea Salt

Blend all of the ingredients except for the frozen ones on high speed until the mixture is white, creamy and frothy. Next, add the remaining frozen ingredients and blend again on high until smooth and creamy. We actually preferred this drink kept simple with just the blueberries and hemp milk But it is thicker, creamier, and sweeter with the banana but that does add a little extra sugar.

All Natural Easter Egg Dyes to Brighten Up your Easter Egg Hunt the Right Way

April 19th, 2011

The annual Easter egg hunt is just around the corner and no doubt many of you have plans to spend the first part of the holiday weekend dyeing eggs for use in the festivities. The problem is that as cheap of those egg dyeing kits have become they are not the most eco friendly things in the world as they are full of all kinds of mystery chemicals, so of which can prove toxic if consumed by small children.

This does not mean however that you have to give up on the Easter altogether or have everyone go off and the hunt for a bunch of boring old white end brown eggs. By utilizing one of these natural easter egg coloring techniques you can stuff basket after basket full of brightly colored and attractive eco friendly Easter Eggs without having to worry abbot kids handling toxic substances.

Before you begin coloring anything, you will of course need to boil your eggs. Adding a little salt to the water is the one step you should not forget as it will help prevent the eggs from cracking, rendering them useless for decorating purposes. Once the eggs are cooked the fun can begin. Here are just a few eye dyeing recipes for you to follow:

Coffee Easter Egg Dyeing

In a large pot mix together two quarts of nice strong coffee, a ¼ cup of vinegar and a ¼ cup of salt. Once the “bath” is prepared lower the hard boiled eggs into it gently and then leave them to soak overnight. The end result should be a batch of Easter eggs that are a nice rich brown in color.

Beet Easter Egg Dyeing

To create pretty pink Easter eggs beets work wonderfully well. Mix together 8 cups of water, 8 cups of chopped beets, a ¼ cup of vinegar and a 1/4 cup of salt in your “egg bath” and once again leave it all to soak overnight.

Turmeric Easter Egg Dyeing

For brilliant yellow Easter Eggs mix together two quarts of plain water, 4 tablespoons of salt, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 6 tablespoons of turmeric and then leave the eggs to bathe and absorb the coloring overnight.

Red Cabbage Easter Egg Dyeing

Although you will be using red cabbage to dye your Easter eggs the end result will actually be Easter eggs that are a subtle blue in hue. Begin by boiling one head of cabbage until cooked in about 2 quarts of salted water and when cooking is complete, and you have removed the cabbage to serve for dinner,  strain the hot cabbage water into a large container. Add to this 4 tablespoons of salt and 4 tablespoons of vinegar.

How deeply colored you want your eggs to be should determine how long you leave them in their cabbage bath,. For pale eggs 30 minutes to an hour should suffice but for deeper hues an overnight soak is called for.

Common Products That You Should Ban from Your Home – Today

April 4th, 2011

Many of the products we use in our homes are not particularly eco friendly and we owe it to ourselves and our planet to make some changes. Some products though are not only bad for the environment but bad for your health as well, even though you may not realize it. Here are some common household products that you should bin right now:

Non-Stick Pans – When they were first introduced a couple of decades ago, non stick pans were considered by many to be the best thing since sliced bread. No more scrubbing away with little wire sponges no more overnight soaking. The difficulty is that all the cooking and clean up convenience that non stick pans offer comes with a price.

Teflon – the stuff that stops the stick -is a polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE for short. When PTFE heats up, it releases toxic gasses that various researchers have linked to cancer, organ failure and reproductive damage. Sorry that put you off your fry up didn’t it? Next time your cook use an old fashioned “stick” pan instead. More effort at washing up time, but a lot healthier for you and the planet.

Antibacterial Products – OK, you probably think we are crazy on this one. Throw out all your antibacterial wipes and soaps and gels? And expose yourself to who knows what kind of germs that all that gunk is working so hard to protect you from?

The problem is that all those antibacterial products are, say no less venerable organization than the CDC , a large part of the reason that so many “superbugs” are appearing. These new strains are resistant to the antibiotics we have and new ones take quite a while to create. In addition the CDC says antibacterials may also interfere with immune system development in children.

You and your household need to be clean, not bacteria free. People who are exposed to household germs typically develop strong immune systems and are healthier overall. Really, simple soap and water is all you need.

Supermarket Cleaning Supplies – Modern, common household cleaning supplies are some of the nastiest, and most dangerous, things you have in your home. Those oh- so -useful all purpose cleaners often contain plenty of ammonia, a strong irritant that has been linked to liver and kidney damage. Bleach is a powerful oxidizer, which can burn the skin and eyes. Oven cleaners are baddies too, they can cause chemical burns and emit toxic fumes that harm the respiratory system.

Need more convincing to chuck them all? If there are children in the house you should know that over 100,000 instances of poisoning by household chemicals in children under five are reported in the US every year.

Instead of loading your kitchen cupboards full of dangerous chemicals try some of the green cleaning techniques listed here.

Donate Your Old Books to Help a Child Get a Shot at Better Learning

March 22nd, 2011

Even though it is one of the richest countries in the world, all across the US (as well as across the globe) schools are struggling to provide their students with the textbooks they need to meet their learning goals, including those laid out by the governments for standardized tests.

Kids end up having to share their textbooks, taking them home on a rotating basis or teachers have to photocopy relevant pages to distribute as flimsy handouts. Or spending their hard earned cash buying books themselves (yes a lot of teachers do that and they really should not have to. Contrary to the opinions of some politicians a teacher does not make a lot)

Swap.com is a site that has been providing a portal for people to swap their unwanted books, CDs and DVDs for several years now. For a fee of between 50 cents and a $1.00 users can safely trade their stuff for something they do want, saving thousands of books, DVDs even video games from ending up in the trash while giving someone else the pleasure of getting something enjoyable for very little.

So popular has the concept become (the site has 1 million regular swappers and counting) that the founders wondered if their concept could be put to good use to help alleviate the book shortages in the nation’s schools. From that notion swap4schools was born.

The concept is still a familiar one to swap.com members. Schools post their “wants” for other users to browse and if you have a matching product you can donate it to them via the site. Donating the books gets you nothing physical in return but you will get a nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing that the book that sat on your shelf for a year gathering dust is now helping a child somewhere master say, the intricacies of the works of Shakespeare.

Great Green Uses for Shampoo that You May Not Know About

March 15th, 2011

Most people have at least one bottle of shampoo in their bathroom. But did you know that you can do a lot more with the contents of a bottle of shampoo than just cleanse your luscious locks? With that in mind why not head down to your local dollar store, by one of those big bottles of generic shampoo and then keep it on hand to help in some of these common situations:

  • Shampoo makes a great alternative to expensive shaving gels and lotions. It lather wonderfully on the skin as well as on the hair and most shampoo brands are less drying than the soap based body washes that many women use to make shaving their legs easier.
  • Sometimes the pain that you have to go through to remove a band aid can be worse than you experienced when you originally picked up the injury it was put in place to help heal. Ease the process by letting a few drops of shampoo soak through the adhesive part of the bandage for a few minutes before you take it off. This should mean that it peel off without that cringe making pain and sticking.
  • Got kids? Diluted shampoo makes a brilliant substitute for store bought bubble liquid.
  • Shampoo can also be very useful as a laundry stain pre treatment. Rub a drop of shampoo into the stain, let it sit for a while then launder as usual. You will pleasantly surprised by just how effective it is.
  • Got a zipper stuck on your jeans or jacket? Put a dab of shampoo onto a q tip and dab onto the zipper. This should then allow the zip to go up and down with ease.
  • Shampoo is great for giving your car a bath as well. Diluted shampoo (add 1/4 cup shampoo to a pail of warm water) works wonders on even the grimiest body work and if you mix a bit of shampoo with baking soda to form a paste it is great for shining up the chrome bits as well.
  • Shampoo can also help your houseplants look their best. Simply add a few drops of shampoo into a bowl of water, dip a towel in the solution, wring it out, and wipe away all the dulling dust that has collected on your plant’s pretty leaves.
  • Donate a bottle of shampoo to Clean the World. This is an amazing organization that collects unwanted soaps and shampoos and then recycles it to give to those in countries where a simple lack of soap results in thousands of deaths from diarrheal disease and respiratory ailments every year.

Falling Water turns 75 – Green Architecture at its Finest, Decades Ahead of its Time

February 27th, 2011

If you think that green architecture is something that has to be plain, simple and boring then you owe it to yourself to make the trip to the tiny Pennsylvania town of Ohiopyle this year to be proved wrong.

2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the construction of Falling Water, an architectural marvel dreamed up by a world famous architect and a department store millionaire that still stands today as one of the most breath taking examples of American architecture in general, and one that made the first use of some of the green building techniques that most of think are so innovative today.

In the 1930s Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann were the owners of one of the finest department store chains in the country Kaufmann’s in Pittsburgh (the flagship store was bought out by Macy’s a few years ago but still exists) Like many Steeltown residents, they loved to get out the city and into the countryside around them, in their case the Allegheny Mountains south of the city.

After years of living in a simple cabin and as their only child Edgar Jr got older, the couple decided they wanted to build a permanent vacation home. And since they has recently made his acquaintance they asked already legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright to build it for them.

And build it he did. His vision though was to create a home that while spectacular did not detract from the beauty of its surroundings but drew from them instead. And it did. Falling Water is built on top of an active waterfall which flows beneath the house.

The fireplace hearth in the living room integrates boulders found on the site and upon which the house was built and ledge rock which protrudes up to a foot through the living room floor was left in place to demonstrably link the outside with the inside.

Lloyd Wright sourced as many of his building materials locally as he could and his innovative use of stone and cork flooring throughout the house is one the first examples of “green flooring” in action in residential setting. When the home was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1939 it was hailed as an international sensation.

In 1978 a few years before his death Edgar Jr tried, in an interview, to sum up what his parents and Lloyd Wright had been trying to achieve. “In Fallingwater, Wright captured the perfect essence of our desire to live with nature, to dwell in a forested place and be at home in the natural world”.

It was the younger Wright who decreed that Falling Water be handed over to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. It is now open to the public and there are a number of camps and workshops available to those want to learn more about Falling Water and the principles behind it.

Stop the Junk Mail , Save a Tree and Safeguard Your Identity

February 22nd, 2011

Even in the age of the email there still seems to be an almost endless flow of junk mail hitting mailboxes every day. In actual fact the average American adult will receive 41 pounds worth of junk mail in a single year. Apart from the fact that it can become rather annoying for both you and your local postmaster that is an awful lot of paper that most people file directly in the round file without ever even opening.

Its not just the wasted paper (and therefore wasted trees) that impact the environment either, There is the carbon footprint of all those inks and chemicals used to print them (which often make the paper harder to recycle) as well as all the fuel wasted to transport the junk mail from place to place.

If you are not to be moved to action by all of this eco – unfriendliness may we point out what a security threat junk mail can be. Apparently a whopping 27 thousand of us will have our identities stolen in 2011 thanks to baddies getting their hands on those pre approved credit offers and all those personalized letters about well, what is usually quite frankly, a load of junk.

But what can you do to stop the flow of junk mail, as least as far as your own mailbox is concerned? You probably have no idea how you ever got onto these mailing lists in the first place, so knowing who to write or call to stop it is a nigh impossible task.

There are certain organizations that can help. If you want to make sure those pre approved credit offers stop (therefore safeguarding your credit score and a tree or two) You should visit Opt Out Pre Screen

which will remove your name from consumer mailing lists sold by the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Transunion and Experian- for five years (yes that is where those direct mail marketers were getting your info from)

To stop a lot of other direct mail “offerings” from cluttering up your life you can contact the Direct Marketing Association and for a $1 fee they will add you to a list of people to be deleted from all mailing lists and send that information out to their list of direct mail marketers. This tactic will only work if those sending the junk mail are members of the DME but that does cover most large companies.

If your junk mail is coming from local companies a simple phone call or quick note politely asking them to stop should hopefully do the trick. The savvy local business owner needs all the community support they can get so will not want to upset anyone just for the sake of delivering an extra pizza menu.

How to Save Your Wet Cell Phone

February 16th, 2011

It happens. You leave your cell phone on the bar next to you ands someone knocks over a drink. Or you leave it out on the deck and it rains. Or, a more common scenario, your cellphone takes an accidental fall into the bowl when you are using the bathroom.

If you are brave enough to fish it out, is there a way to save your cellphone, and if so how? Or is this going to become yet another cellphone condemned to sit in a landfill for years, which far too many of them are these days. In fact There are more than 500 million used cell phones in the U.S. sitting in people’s drawers or worse, in our crowded landfills and that number is only going to increase unfortunately.

Very few phone companies will cover your water damaged phone either, so if cell phone CPR is unsuccessful your bank account is going to take a hit as well.

The fact is that most partially drowned cell phones can be salvaged, but only if you act quickly. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the battery. Unless you have an iPhone, as the battery in them is never supposed to be removed (a great innovation on the part of Apple that almost ensures that you will have to buy a new one withing a few years anyway) Make sure your iPhone is off and locked though.
  2. If your phone has a SIM card take that out too. If the worst comes to the worst and your phone cannot be revived at least you will not lose all your data as well.
  3. Dab up excess moisture by blowing on the phone or dabbing at it with paper towels. The ideal thing to have with you in this situation would be one of those cans of compressed air used to clean keyboards, but  the chances that you bought one out to the pub with you are, we assume fairly slim (since this is where these accidents seem to happen most often)
  4. This is the crucial part. As soon as you can, that wet phone needs to be buried – in a bowl of uncooked rice. The rice actually works wonders to remove all that moisture without ruining your phone. Leave the phone in its rice bed for at least several hours.
  5. Remove your phone from the rice, reinsert the battery (if you ever took it out) and hope for the best. Most of the time, if you acted quickly this will work and your phone will be restored to its former glory.

If the phone still does not work, even with its charger, don’t throw it away. It may be useless to you now but it can be recycled. Instead send it to Earthworks Recycle My Cell Phone. You won’t receive any cash or direct reward for doing so, but you will be able to write the cost of the drowned cell phone and the amount you paid to mail it off on your next tax return.

Ziploc Announces New Recycling Program that Rewards Customers for their Efforts

February 11th, 2011

Often big corporations make it onto the eco activists’ radar because of the bad practices they have embraced the damage the planet at large. That is not always the case though, as a newly announced initiative from the makers of Ziploc bags demonstrates.

We’re all familiar with Ziploc bags. You probably have some (or some of their private label counterparts) sitting your kitchen cupboards right now. They are oh so handy for all kinds of reasons but the one thing they are not is easily recyclable.

It’s harder to recycle the plastic that Ziploc products are made from so often they are sent to landfill to sit for years instead. SC Johnson, Ziploc’s parent company, has created a program designed to reduce some of that waste.

Ziploc have partnered with Recyclebank to encourage families to recycle and the goal of the venture id to reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills by 100 million pounds in 24 months.

Recyclebank offers consumers who up their recycling efforts rewards for doing so in the form of points that can be used toward the purchase of some pretty neat stuff. They do not yet operate in all areas of the country though, but the reach is expanding everyday.

One of the most important aspect of the Zip Loc program though could soon show up in grocery stores and retail locations in your neighborhood. The company plans to put in place  18,000 in-store recycle bins that will accept clean and dry Ziploc Brand sandwich, storage and freezer bags.

In addition, wherever you live , within the next few  months, you will have the opportunity to earn reward points  when you make a pledge to resposnibly recycle Ziploc bags and packaging by entering the code from specially marked packages of Ziploc Brand Sandwich and Snack Bags on Recyclebank.com.



Bugs and Drugs – The Extra Ingredients in Your Valentine’s Bouquet?

February 7th, 2011

You may have realized by now that buying your Valentine a bouquet of cut and refrigerated flowers for Valentine’s Day may be a nice thought but its not a very eco friendly one. The fact that they are often grown with pesticides is a problem, as is all the fuel wasted to transport them for mile after mile.

There is another very good reason though that some cut flowers are a very eco unfriendly choice for Valentine’s Day or any other time of the year.

You may find it hard to believe but more than eighty percent of the cut flowers imported to the U.S. during Valentine season pass through Miami International Airport, with Colombia and Ecuador by far being the largest sources of roses, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies, Peruvian lilies and the dozens of other flower varieties that are so very popular every time February 14th rolls around.

The problem with that is that these blooms also sometimes carry little illegal immigrants – bugs and pests that have no natural place in the US and if allowed to escape they could wreck havoc with US crops and gardens in American backyards, especially in the sensitive eco system that is the nearby Florida Everglades.

Agricultural inspectors usually spend hour after hour spot checking the boxes of flowers rolling in, searching for these little pests but its inevitable that they cant catch them all. To make matters worse cut flowers are now a favorite place for drug smugglers to stash their wares to get them past customs. Drugs and bugs, what a romantic sounding combination.

So instead of supporting some Columbian drug cartel or helping some new strange strain of bug (some of these flower borne critters are so unusual customs officers have to send them to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to be identified) gain illegal entry if you really must give flowers then buy them locally from a farmer’s market. Or alternately be a little more original in your Valentines gifting this year and check of the green gift ideas at Tip the Planet instead.