Archive for the ‘green’ Category

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

Monday, 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.

Getting a Greener Christmas Tree – Eco Friendly Options for The Season

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

You try to be an eco conscious consumer but you do love a Christmas tree. The good news is that that is fine, you just might want to consider one of the more eco friendly Christmas trees – both live and artificial – that are available these days.

Are Fake Trees Really Better for the Environment Than Real Ones?

Some well meaning souls, in an attempt to go green have eschewed the live Christmas tree in favor of a mass produced plastic artificial version. Unfortunately that is not the best choice in many cases. The majority of the mass produced plastic Christmas trees are made from a petroleum by-product and are not biodegradable. Worse still if they even get singed a little by the Christmas lights they will give off petroleum fumes.

Eco Friendly Live Christmas Trees

You do have several options if you really want a live tree adorning your home for the duration of the holiday season. The first would be buying a live potted tree and then finding it a nice spot in the garden after all the festivities are over. You simply have to make sure that you know how to take care of it while it is indoors, something that the nursery should be able to advise you about.

Alternately if you do buy a cut tree you can recycle it properly in has some great advice for just how to do that in your local area, including the contact numbers for local Christmas tree recycling programs, which many cities now boast.

Eco Friendly Fake Christmas Trees

Some people just can’t stand the idea of a live Christmas tree anyway, eco friendly or not. All those needles, all that mess. But what alternatives do you have to one of those petroleum based pretenders? Well how about redefining your basic concept of what a Christmas tree is? Design firm Buro North did and created a recycled wood Christmas tree that is a full 80% more environmentally friendly than using a live tree and to be honest is far more stylish.

You can also take a leaf out of Buro North’s book and have a go at creating your very own recycled products Christmas tree. You’ll be amazed by how creative people can get. How about a tree made from old Mountain Dew cans? Or this one, a decorative tree made from, of all things, baby food jars?

Baby Food Jar Christmas Tree

What you’ll need:

  • 33 (4 oz.) Baby food jars with lids
  • 2 strings of gold star wire garland (used to decorate packages)
  • Strand of 35 miniature Christmas tree lights
  • Gold or green spray paint
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue (dries clear not white)
  • Wire clippers
  • Sturdy box cutter

How to make it:

  1. Spray paint outside of baby food jar lids. Let dry.
  2. Hot glue the baby food jars arranging them as in photo.
  3. Using the wire clippers, cut 33 pieces of the gold star garland in about a 7″ length.
  4. Wind each piece of garland in a circle to fit inside the jars. Place in the bottom of each jar.
  5. Take each baby food jar lid and make a large “V” cut using the box knife. (see close-up photo)
  6. Screw on all the lids onto the jars.
  7. Place the first light on the string of lights through the cut in the lid of the top jar.
  8. Place the remaining lights in the jars, weaving back and forth for the rows.
  9. When you get to the last row of the tree (before the tree trunk), you will need to double up 2 lights in 2 jars in order to get the lights into the tree trunk.
  10. Plug in your tree and enjoy the beautiful light

Have more great Christmas tree tips to share? Then please do so at Tip the Planet – the fastest growing green wiki on the web.

Great Green Uses for Bottom Shelf Vodka

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Do you have a bottle of bottom shelf vodka hanging around in a cupboard somewhere? Maybe it was a gift from a well meaning acquaintance or simply a bottle you bought to take to a BYOB that never quite got there.

For whatever reason you have it you know that you would have to be pretty desperate to drink it. There are however plenty of other things you can do with it, while saving money and doing a little bit to help the environment as well.

Vodka for Stain Removal – Instead of one of those chemical laden stainsticks that don’t always work very well anyway why not try using a little vodka to shift those stubborn stains?  For ink and grass stains, dip a clean cloth in vodka and rub spot. Rinse thoroughly. Lipstick on your collar? Blot the stain with vodka, and then launder in your regular wash.

Vodka Kills Mold – Instead of using one of those specialist bathroom cleaning sprays, most of which are full of some pretty toxic stuff put some of that vodka in a spray bottle and use it to attack that nasty bathroom mold.  On caulk and grout, spritz the moldy areas and let vodka sit for 30 minutes. After a half an hour has passed scrub the area with an old toothbrush, tile/grout brush or nylon scouring-pad then rinse thoroughly. For bathroom tiles, spray vodka and let sit for 5-10 minutes; then wash clean.

Vodka Cleans Jewelry – Cleaning your grimy jewelry with vodka will get it sparkling and brilliant again in just a few short minutes, without using harsh chemicals that could damage your precious baubles. The only jewelry it is not good for are opals, as the stone is a little too porous.

To effectively clean other stones though measure out one-fourth of a cup vodka into a shallow drinking glass or bowl. Then just drop in your jewelry and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off the vodka afterwards and your jewelry will be sparkling like never before.

Vodka Saves Flowers – Isn’t it disappointing when someone sends you a beautiful bunch of flowers but then within a few days they are wilted and dead? A few drops of vodka added to the water can extend their life by several days. Plants all produce ethylene, a ripening gas that promotes maturation and causes them to wilt and die. Vodka stunts that ethylene production, thereby helping flowers stay wilt-free longer.

Vodka Kills Smells – Forget those expensive ozone killing air fresheners. Add some of that vodka to a spray bottle and spritz bad smells away. There will be no smell left behind when the vodkas dries and those dreadful odors will be gone.

Green Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Gift Wrap

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Yes, it is only the beginning of October but the fact is that most of us have begun (or at least thinking about) holiday gift shopping already. When you do go out gift shopping the one thing you should skip on if you want to be a little more environmentally responsible is store brought gift wrap. Instead ease the paper load in landfills (and the load on your wallet as well) by choosing one of these great green gift wrap alternatives.

Last Year’s Gift Bags – Many of us have a stash of gift bags in the basement or a kitchen drawer saved from gifts we’ve received. Instead of leaving them there cut the old tags off and reuse them. And if you are one of those people who simply cannot give a present in a gift bag without a filler use the paper from the paper shredder at work instead of tissue paper

A Gift within a Gift – Why not wrap the earrings you have bought for your sister in law in a nice cozy winter scarf? Or the video game for your nephew in a trendy t shirt? All it takes is a little clever folding and a few pieces of scrap ribbon to secure it all and you have the ultimate no waste holiday present(s).

Make Your Own Gift Bags – Have some scraps of material lying around? Or an old blouse or pair of jeans that you haven’t worn in years? Put them to good use by using the fabric to create re-useable cloth gift bags. Here’s how to make a simple one but if you have a basic knowledge of sewing you could really go to town:

Determine the desired width and length of your bag, then calculate fabric total width (width + 2 cm/3/4 in) x total length ([length x 2] + 14 cm/5-1/2 in); with right sides together, fold in half so the short edges are even; using 1 cm (3/8 in) seam allowance, stitch each side edge and then simply turn the right side out. Easy enough for anyone to do and can be adapted to make any size bag.

Magazines and Newspapers – A great picture from a magazine or an interesting page from a newspaper may be able to be reused as great gift wrap.

One final note – Even if you decide to go green this year and use an alternative to traditional store bought gift warp chances are that many of your friends and family will not. Instead of ripping those wrappers off this year though remove them carefully and save the wasteful wrap to be reused next year, making the whole season a little greener.

Have a great green gift idea? Share it with everyone at the most useful green Wiki on the Web.

Green Gift Giving

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Before you head out to the store to buy that birthday gift for your best friend, that anniversary present for your other half or that wedding gift for your college roommate stop for a moment and think – is there a way you can give a great gift and help the environment as well? There certainly is of course. Here are a few tips for green gift giving:

Give an experience – Rather than buying “stuff” why not give the gift of a trip to the zoo, a gift certificate for a relaxing massage or a couple of tickets to see a great concert or play? Your recipient will welcome the excuse to take a break from their everyday routine and you won’t be cluttering up their home with more stuff they really don’t need.

Give Something that is More Responsible – If you really like buying physical gifts choose presents that are a little more environmentally responsible (and will encourage the recipient to be too) A solar charger, organic cotton bedding or even something as simple as personal care products made from natural products that are safer for humans and the environment are all great ideas.

Give the Gift of Taste – Head out to your local health food store and purchase a few organic goodies like carob bars, fair trade coffee and locally baked bread. Put it all together in a basket (pick one up at your local dollar store) and you will be giving a tasty gift that is far better than a box of supermarket chocolates.

Don’t Give Flowers, Give Trees – A bouquet of flowers is indeed very pretty but the longest they last is a week. To give a really long-lasting gift that anyone will appreciate, give the gift of a treeinstead. If your gift recipient does not have a garden to plant one in, give a bonsai tree instead. They are beautiful, last for years and add a unique decorating touch to anyone’s home.

Give the Gift of Your Time – Rather than buying your friends a gift certificate for their anniversary why not gift them a couple of free nights of babysitting instead? That is possibly one of the best gifts you could give to a couple whose lives don’t leave them enough time for romance anymore. Don’t worry about what they’ll do with the time you are gifting them, you can bet they will figure it out  very quickly.

Got a great green gift tip of your own? Please share it with us at Tip the Planet, the fastest growing green wiki on the Web

Easy Ways to Help your Car Guzzle less Gas

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Cutting down on the number of times you stop by the gas station to fill up not only saves you money but helps the environment in a myriad of ways as well. While you might not be in a position to switch to a hybrid car just yet (they are not the cheapest vehicles on the road ) there are plenty of ways you can cut down on the amount of gas your car guzzles every day. Here are just a few of them:

Control Your Accelerations – If you accelerate slowly and steadily to your crushing speed rather than going 0 to 60 in four seconds your car works more efficiently and uses a little less gas every time.

Empty the Trunk – Yes everyone has to go grocery shopping but do you really need to keep all that junk in your trunk? According to car experts Edmunds an extra 100 pounds in the trunk will reduce your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent in the typical vehicle, so put all that camping gear back in the garage until you need it again.

Turn Down the AC – Running the AC in your vehicle can increase its fuel consumption by up to 10%. If it is truly stifling and you are still frying with all the windows down by all means turn it on, but at the highest temperature you can stand, there is no need to turn your car into an icebox just to run across town.

Slow Down – Did you know that in a typical family sedan, every ten miles per hour you drive over sixty is like the price of gasoline going up about fifty-four cents a gallon? The faster your car moves through the air the more drag it creates, meaning it has to work harder (and use more gas) to get you to your destination.

Have more gas saving tips to share? Stop by Tip the Planet and add them there, we’d love to hear about them.

Easy Ways you can Help Preserve our Oceans

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

The continuing devastation caused by the recent Deep Horizon oil rig spill has served to remind many people just how important it is to conserve and protect ocean and marine environments everywhere. Even if you live miles and miles away from the nearest coastline what you as an individual does can have an impact on the health of marine environments. Here are a few simple ways you can make that impact a positive one:

Reduce the Amount of Plastic you Use – Almost all the garbage cleared away during the average beach cleanup is plastic. Drinking bottles, plastic shopping bags and utensils all find their way to the beach and not only clutter up the landscape but endanger the marine life as well. If you are going to the beach make you leave with everything you took there – including your garbage if there are no suitable disposable facilities nearby.

Choose your Detergents Carefully – Apart from the fact that green detergents are better for you and your family’s health anyway it is well worth remembering that what goes down the drain may very well end up in the lakes, streams and even the oceans, perhaps miles away from where you live.

Buy Seafood with Care – Whether you are out a restaurant or strolling the aisles of your local grocery store try to buy seafood that has been sustainably harvested. When eating out if your waiter does not know where the fish came from order something else – or find somewhere else to go for dinner.

Vacation Responsibly – When choosing a hotel take the time to make a phone call to ask the staff what happens to their sewage and swimming pool water, and if they source their restaurant fish from sustainable sources. If you are taking a trip to the beach stay off fragile sand dunes and resist the temptation to take home pieces of the beach for souvenirs.

Do you have more marine preservation ideas to share? If so please add them to the green wiki Tip the Planet and share the knowledge with others.

Alternative Health Treatments that are Weird ..but Work

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

All over the western world people have simply come to rely too much on the idea of a pill for every pain. An example? Hospitalizations for accidental poisonings caused by prescription medications now account for more deaths in the USA than road accidents. Fortunately more people are becoming a little more open minded about seeking alternative ways to cure at least some of what ails them.

Interested in learning more? How about trying one of these somewhat strange, but nevertheless effective alternative remedies:

  • For headaches – Drinking two glasses of chilled Gatorade can provide faster relief from a headache than a couple of aspirin and without the nasty side effects. If the headache is part of the misery of a hangover the rehydrating properties of the famous sports drink will help overcome that as well.
  • For minor burns – Dab a bit of Colgate on minor burns, it will provide almost instant relief from the pain. The old fashioned stuff though, not the new varieties with bright coloring or “breath strips” added into it.
  • For a UTI – Forget antibiotics that can cause as much misery as a UTI itself does. Buy yourself a box of Alka Seltzer instead. When you first notice the symptoms of UTI, take two in a glass of cold water, then rinse and repeat every few hours as necessary. Drinking cranberry juice helps as well and many people find they get relief far faster using these “alternative” treatments than they do waiting for a course of antibiotics to kick in.
  • Stuffy Nose – Before you head of to drug store and get one those high priced inhalers filled with a variety of mystery chemicals (or you zonk yourself out with that infamous green liquid cold medicine try chewing on a few Altoids Peppermints instead. Their curiously strong taste should clear those sniffles right up.

Want to know how to banish blemishes overnight, get rid of toenail fungus or a great alternative use for Quaker Oats then head over to Tip the Planet , the most comprehensive – and interesting – green wiki on the Internet.

Tipping the Planet

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
I’ve often said that the environmental movement needs convenient actions, not inconvenient truths. Said differently, many of us have a sincere ‘will’ to change our planet, but are not not sure of the most effective ‘way’ to do so. When you couple this with the environmental preachers out there, who are quick to chastise us – it’s not surprising that there is a sense of apathy. The more ardent campaigners find it hard to understand why the majority of us are not more environmentally contentious – yet for most of us, environmental conscientiousness competes against a plethora of other forces within our daily lives.
In addition, there is often disagreement about how one should act. If we try to be green, yet we’re still criticized, it can lead to people giving up trying, rather than trying harder. If we hear rumours that hybrid vehicles are actually less efficient, because of the dangerous chemicals in their batteries, or the increased energy consumed to build them – whether this is true or not – it can lead to a sense of hopelessness. If we’re told that we shouldn’t fly, yet we have family or work abroad, it often merely serves to make people give up trying, rather than flying.
Rather than making us feel guilty about what we’re not doing, it’s important to make going green easy, even easier. We need to uncover and promote actions and activities that are convenient. We need to find out which airlines are the greenest, and try to fly with them, or put pressure on those that aren’t to change. We need to make flying green, rather than telling people they can’t. We need to determine which cars are the best to drive, the cheapest to run AND the best environment. Only when it works for consumers, will we see real change.
Ignorance often stands in the way of people’s desire to do ‘the right thing’, or prevents people from realising how simple it is to make small beneficial changes to one’s life.

With this in mind, I want to draw your attention to Tip the Planet. Started a few years back, I wanted to create a user-generated central place where people could put tips and more information about environmental issues and actions. Since then, I’ve hardly touched the site and yet more and more people have started to edit the site. For example, someone who wanted to share their knowledge, went wild on the ‘air-dry washing‘ page, and suddenly we’re number one in google. Although the pages don’t look pretty, every time I go back to an edited page, I discover that someone else has added a link to a new site, or a piece of information. In time, and through the power of wiki technology, the information will get better and better. If one person shares a tip they’ve uncovered which proves convenient and a thousand people implement it, suddenly we’ll start to see change occur on a bigger and bigger scale.

So, if you’re looking for solutions rather than problems, or want to share your experiences, take a look and help spread those conveniences, rather than lament the inconveniences.

Going Green for the Summer

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Summer is here and most of us will be spending plenty of time outdoors, so it only makes sense that people ‘should’ be thinking greener than ever. Here are some great ways that you can enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer while still doing your part to keep Mother Nature happy:
Clever Cooling – As soon as the temperature begins to heat up its tempting to blast the AC day and night. It does not have to be that way though. No one is suggesting that you have to give up your air conditioner completely but by following some of Tip the Planet’s clever cooling tips, you can save money and stay chill all season long. For instance, did you know that by installing light-colored awning s some studies report that you can reduce heat gain in your home by up to 77 percent?!
Buy Local – Planning a couple of cookouts this summer? Help the environment and your local economy by seeking out local foods to throw on the grill whenever possible. Tip the Planet has some wonderful tips for getting the best bang for your buck when buying local produce.
Be Nice at the Beach – We all enjoy a great day at the beach. And that is the way it should be, but pollution caused by careless humans makes a trip to some beaches a not so pleasant experience. It is every individual’s responsibility to keep the beaches clean and safe for everyone to enjoy for years to come. This means doing a little more than just remembering to take your empty cans, bottles and dirty diapers home with you (although all of those things are a great place to start).
Before you head out for your next day of sand, sea and fun make sure you read Tip the Planet’s beach environment tips to learn more about what you can do to help preserve the summer fun for us all.
Relax Responsibly – Need new patio chairs? Deck furniture looking a little the worse for wear? Before you head out for the local home store or the nearest Wal-Mart check out Tip the Planet’s guide to choosing environmentally friendly furniture that can help you relax responsibly without having to sacrifice style or comfort.
Tip the Planet is the fastest growing green wiki on the Net. Have a great green summer tip to share? Add it to Tip the Planet and help educate us all.