Archive for the ‘Tips in the home’ 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.

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

Tuesday, 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

Monday, 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.

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.

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

Tuesday, 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.

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.


Eating Well for Less

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Adding more organic food to your regular diet is not only good for you but the environment as a whole as well. Many people avoid doing so though because the extra expense this inevitably entails. Organic produce is indeed more expensive than the “other” stuff but there are ways you can cut your grocery bill in the other areas so that indulging in some delicious locally grown vegetables or uncorking a bottle of organic wine instead of cracking open another Bud will be a pleasure you can easily afford.

Nix the Takeout – It is so easy to order out rather than cook at home. Easy but very expensive. According to a recent AARP report the average American family spends a whopping 42% of its annual food budget on take out and meals prepared outside the home. Put that money back into your grocery budget and you can buy all kinds of organic treats to make some really great home cooked meals instead.

If you take the home cooking concept even further you can save even more. How about making your own pasta sauce with some fresh herbs and a can of tomatoes rather than paying $4 a jar for that store bought stuff? Or baking a few cookies rather than picking up another pack of additive filled ones on your way home?

That is of course the other advantage of preparing more food at home – you will actually know exactly what you are eating!

Eat Less Meat – This one is almost a no brainer. Meat costs far more than vegetables, beans or starches and causes more damage from an environmental stand point. Even if you can only manage to stomach a couple of meatless meals a week you will still be reducing both your carbon footprint and your grocery bill.

Grow Your Own – Even if you live in a tiny apartment you can grow some of your own produce. Tiny vegetables like cherry tomatoes and baby cauliflower do well in window boxes and for those lucky enough to have more outdoor space to work with the possibilities are almost endless. You do not have to eat all those vegetables at once though, you could try your hand at canning and preserving the fruits of your labor so that you will have a supply of organic home grown food on hand all year round.

Cut Back on the Sundries – If you sit down and really look at your last receipt a big shop at the grocery store you will almost certainly be surprised by how much you spent on items from the non food sections. This is another area where you can save big by just changing a few household habits. Go back to using reusable kitchen cloths for clean up instead of buying so many paper towels (which will save a few trees as well) and buy concentrated household cleaners instead of that big economy size that seems like a great deal but isn’t really.

Have more tips for saving both money on your grocery bill and the planet? Then share them at Tip the Planet, the internet’s fastest growing green wiki.

Is Your Game Console Eco Friendly?

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Once again this year there were an awful lot of game consoles under an awful lot of Christmas trees. Of course this systems are very different form the old Ataris and the original Nintendos. Games look more like movies and some video games are actually even good for you.

Although the pricetag and personal gaming preferences are big issues when trying to decide between the most popular video game systems, it’s important to remember that the cost of the system doesn’t end at the cash register.

The games aside (which for all three “big systems” still cost $50 and up) there is the issue of energy consumption to consider. It takes a considerable amount of juice to run these gaming systems, more in fact than you might have realized.

Not too long ago the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) decided to test the newest models of the top three gaming systems – The Sony Playstation 3, the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii- to see exactly how much energy they consumed.

To perform the test researchers played one hour of EA Sports Madden 2011 on each console. During this test the Wii was a winner in the energy efficiency stakes by a mile.

The EPRI gamers found that during that hour the Nintendo Wii used an average of 13.7 watts, the Sony PlayStation 3 used an average of 84.8 watts, and the Microsoft Xbox 360 used an average of 87.9 watts. They did note however that both the higher consuming game systems had been tweaked to reduce their energy consumption over older models of the same console. The 2007 model of the PS3 consumed 150 watts and the Xbox 360 from the same year 118.8 so improvements are being made.

If you want to cut the amount of energy your gaming console consumes you should do what many gamers often forget to do – turn the console off when not in active use, as they all still consume energy even when no active game is being played.

Facing Up to the Biggest Challenge To Environmental Awareness

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

If you ask the “experts” what is the biggest challenge facing the environmental protection movement as a whole these days is and you will get a thousand different answers. But there really is one challenge far greater than all the others combined – public awareness.

The sad fact is that too many people simply don’t care. Many rationalize this disinterest in the world around them as OK because they are too busy, or that their lone actions cannot make a difference (the same rationale they use for not exercising their right to vote either) They don’t seem to realize that they are a part of the environment themselves and that everything that goes on in the world around them does have (or will have) a direct impact on their own lives in the end.

But just like voting, every individual action does have an impact, even if it is seemingly very small. And that is what Tip the Planet is all about. The people who contribute there are not, on the whole, “qualified” eco experts. They are just normal people who have picked up some tidbit or another of knowledge, some simple way to live a more environmentally conscious life and take a few minutes every once in a while to share it. They are people like you.

However small you may think your tip is please share it. And then take a few minutes to read what others have shared. Improve it if you like and join in the conversation (there are lots of helpful tutorials to show you how). Then tell a few friends about it and encourage them to do the same. Every action really does count – even if it is “just” sharing that old herbal cold relief remedy that your Granny used to swear by or that neat little trick you found for clear skin using ingredients from your refrigerator.

Holiday E Cards that Do More

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

This is going to sound rather Grinch like, so apologies in advance, but personally I hate holiday cards. It’s not that I have anything against chubby little Christs in mangers, or jolly fat Santa and his nasally enhanced friend Rudolph. I simply can’t stand all that waste.

Did you know that forty percent of the junk clogging landfills across the nation is paper waste? And considering that between Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa Americans send out a whopping 1.5 billion greeting cards in November and December annually, you can bet that a lot of that is cards that were thrown out with the tree in January. That’s why I am only going to be sending e cards this year.

Of course that stance has its critics. But I treasure those holiday cards/recycle them as gift tags/work for Hallmark, you can’t do that, it’s rude they cry.  Actually even The Emily Post Institute says it isn’t. In fact they recommend sending e cards during the holiday season calling them a “greener and less expensive” alternative.

Then there are those that will point out that e cards use up energy resources as well. Yes they do, but their carbon footprint is 1/60th that of a physical greeting card and I have to make some effort to send out some form of Seasons Greetings if I ever want my family and friends to talk to me again.

There are plenty of internet sites that offer e cards but these happen to be ones I particularly like, mainly because the cards from these sites actually do a little more than just send a holiday shout out – they actually benefit some pretty worthy causes as well.

Care2.com – Care2.com is an advocacy site that solicits help on dozens of different issues relating to wildlife conservation, human and civil rights and general environmental issues. For each card sent during the holiday season 5% of the ad revenue to several nonprofit environmental and humanitarian organizations.

World Wildlife Fund – At their website at worldwildlife.org, the WWF offer a range of cute, animal themed holiday greetings e cards that make a change from the same old reindeer while reminding people that for some species the number of holidays they have left to celebrate may be running out.

The Hunger Site – by sending an e card from the Hunger Site(thehungersite.com) you will be making a small contribution to the health and wellbeing of children all over the world who need better food to stay healthy and thrive.

You can even go a step further than the free e cards and make a charitable contribution in your recipient’s name, then send a greeting to tell them about it. It’s a holiday gift that does a bit more good than yet another tie.