Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

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

Monday, 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.

Great Green Uses for Shampoo that You May Not Know About

Tuesday, 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

Sunday, 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.

The Many Great Green Uses for White Vinegar

Friday, February 4th, 2011

It was about 10,000 years ago now that some clever soul stumbled across a discovery that would change lives forever. Wine was already a big hit all over the world, but then someone let some of it oxidize – and bingo, vinegar was born. The ancient Greeks and Romans used copious amounts of the stuff as a preservative and the Ancient Chinese drank it as a health tonic (must have had quite the strong stomachs those Ancient Chinese)

The magic ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. And while there are lots of different types of vinegar available these days for purposes other than adding to food white vinegar is by far the most useful. White vinegar has dozens of household applications, and the best part is that it’s green. Here are just a few of the ways you can put a $1 bottle of white vinegar to great, green use:

Cleaning Uses – There are plenty of ways white vinegar can be used around the house as a great cleaning agent. This is something that appeals to many people as they look for a way to not only save on the cost of cleaning products but use less chemicals around their home. Here are some of them:

  • You can clean and deodorize a garbage disposal by mixing one part white vinegar with one part baking soda and just putting it down the drain. Simply then let the fizzy mixture sit for about 15 minutes before flushing with plain warm water.
  • The steam created by boiling a bowl filled with water and a few teaspoons of white vinegar can loosen caked on food stains and get rid of lingering food odors.
  • If accidental water condensation marks are marring your wood table you can use equal parts of white vinegar and vegetable oil. Just make sure you rub in the direction of the grain and that next time you remember to use coasters!
  • Why use bleach on grimy grout when a little white vinegar scrubbed in with old toothbrush does a much better job?

Clothes – White vinegar can also work wonders on laundry day to:

  • If you spray white vinegar on an item of clothing stained with antiperspirant before you wash it then the stain will come right off.
  • Just adding a cup full of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the wash can brighten and freshen your laundry better than any bleach.
  • If chewing gum has been accidentally stuck onto clothing or upholstery you can remove it quickly and easily by dabbing with white vinegar until it loosens.

Outdoor Use

  • You can keep your car windshield virtually frost free all winter long just by wiping them down occasionally with a three-to-one vinegar-water mixture.
  • If you have a years old bumper sticker that is refusing to budge spray it with neat white vinegar,leave it to sit for an hour or so and you should then find that the bumper sticker peels right off (and about time. The NKOTB are all over 40 already!)

Know of any more use for white vinegar that have not been detailed here? Share them with is at Tip the Planet, the fastest growing green wiki in the world.


Have a Green Halloween

Monday, October 11th, 2010

It’s nearly that time of year again. Halloween is just around the corner and kids of all ages everywhere are gearing up for a night of spooky fun. As a treat for the planet why don’t you try going a little green for Halloween this year, and no, we don’t mean by dressing up as The Hulk or Shrek. Here are a few ways you can make your spooky celebrations a little more eco friendly.

Use Recyclable Bags for Trick or Treating – Cloth or canvas bags, or even a spookily decorated old pillowcase make a great green alternative to plastic buckets and paper sacks. They are better for the kids too – paper and plastic bags can tear easily, spilling Halloween treats and disappointing children. Reusable bags are much more durable.

Make Your Own Costume – By making your own costumes you will be going green and saving yourself money. All it takes is a little imagination and a rummage through everyone’s closets. Cardboard boxes can also make wonderful costumes all by themselves. Search around the Internet if you need inspiration there are plenty of suggestions out there.

The other great advantage of making your own Halloween costumes is of course that your kids are unlikely to run into anyone else who looks the same as they do while they are out candy collecting.

Make Those Treats Eco Friendly – Think outside the box this year when it comes to the treats you give out at your home. Instead of the peanut butter cups and sickly sweet hard candies hit the local health food store and snap up some healthier alternatives. Also choose treats with as little packaging as possible – less mess for you to clean up and less waste for the environment as well.

Walk, Don’t Drive – Stay local and walk around your own neighborhood trick or treating instead of getting the car out to drive half way around town to a more “candy intensive” neighborhood. The night should be all about having fun, not who can gather up the most candy (and your kids don’t need that much either.)

Have more great green Halloween tips? Share them at Tip the Planet, the most comprehensive green wiki on the bed.

Xeriscaping – There’s More to it Than Cacti

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Xeriscaping – also known as drought tolerant gardening – is a relatively easy and affordable way to get a back (or front) yard landscape that looks incredible while saving water and making the most of the natural resources around you. The basic premise behind xeriscaping is that it requires no water beyond that that Mother Nature provides in the form of rainfall.

Xeriscaping is of course most popular in areas that receive little rainfall, Nevada or Arizona for example. It is also gaining ground in areas where the demand for water is outstripping the supply as is the case in Los Angeles.

Contrary to what many people believe when they first hear about the concept, xeriscaping is not all about filling your garden full of cacti. They can certainly be a feature in some areas, there are some amazing looking ones available, but there are any number of flowers, grasses, vegetables and even trees that flourish in a low water environment. Commonly used plants include cacti, agave, lavender, juniper, thymes and various kinds of sedums.

Although water conservation is one of the primary objectives of those whochoose to try xeriscaping there are other reasons to give it a go as well.

One of the biggest reasons to invest in this kind of landscaping is not only because it is environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but it can also garner the homeowner big savings as well. No longer do you have to fight nature to encourage a lawn to grow unnaturally and of course your water bill will drop if you aren’t running a sprinkler day in and day out.

Choosing the right plants and crops is of course essential to xeriscaping success. In hotter climes these will be plants that are native to the area. A trip to a local nursery should put you in contact with gardening professionals who will usually be more than happy to help you pick out the right plants for your project.

Once you have the vegetation you need, remember to try to group them together in such a way that any additional watering is kept to a minimum.

Although xeriscaping is best known in the West and Southwest of the US there is no reason why similar principles cannot be applied to gardens in the Midwest or Northeast. Yes, cacti and yucca will look a little out of place in say, Pennsylvania, but the idea is to mimic your local natural surroundings and take your cues from the plants that are native to the area, whatever the climate.

Have more environmentally friendly gardening tips? We’d love to hear about them. Why not visit Tip the Planet and add them to our rapidly growing green wiki?

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.

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.