Archive for the ‘Tips in the home’ Category

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 January.Pickyouownchristmastree.org 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.

Greening Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Halloween is over, next up Thanksgiving. Here are some great tips for adding some green to the fall colors of Thanksgiving and having an eco friendly turkey day:

Remember the Three Rs – Reduce, reuse, recycle is a good mantra to live by at any time of the year, but Thanksgiving is a great time to up your efforts:

Use reusable shopping bags when out gathering ingredients for your holiday feast and reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying only as much as you need and choosing products that come in packaging that can be easily recycled.

Although they are undoubtedly easier to clean up, resist the temptation to use paper napkins and opt for the good old fashioned cloth variety instead.

If you have a backyard and you don’t have a compost bin in use yet the inevitable Thanksgiving leftovers will make a great starting point for one.

Shop Locally – Locally grown food supports your local economy, requires less fuel to reach store shelves and generally even tastes better as well since it does not have to be packaged for maximum shelf life. And consider avoiding the supermarket as much as possible, the fall in general is a great time to spend a morning at the local farmer’s market and you should be able to find the majority of the ingredients you need to create your Thanksgiving feast right there.

Celebrate Close to Home – Thanksgiving weekend is one of heaviest for highway travel in the United States, not a good thing for the environment. Wherever possible skip the holiday travel and stay out home to celebrate. If you really must travel (yes we know what mothers are like if you miss a family get together) try to do so as responsibly as possible.

If you are driving before you set out make sure your tires are all properly inflated, which makes your car more fuel efficient and see if you and other friends and family members can arrange a holiday carpool to get you all to your holiday destinations.

Remember the Reason for the Season – Thanksgiving isn’t all about football and food.  Even if you follow no particular religion, however, Thanksgiving is a good time to count your blessings, beginning with the many ways the natural environment sustains and enriches our lives.

Great Green Uses for Leftover Halloween Pumpkin

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Halloween is here again and the pumpkins are out in force. Pumpkin carving is great fun for children and adults alike but did you know there are far more uses for the orange fruit than you might ever have imagined? Don’t know what to do with all that fleshy fruit you just scooped out of its skin in order to create your spooky Halloween masterpieces? Here are a few very eco friendly ideas:

  • Make a great exfoliating facemask – Forget those expensive exfoliators from the drug store, a simple combination of that leftover pumpkin and a little honey works wonders to gently buff away dead skin and leave you with a radiant complexion. Simply combine four tablespoons of the pumpkin, 1 tablespoon of honey and a few drops of jojoba oil in a blender until they form a smooth paste, apply to your entire face and leave it on for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse with warm water and you will be left with skin that looks and feels softer and cleaner.
  • Looking for a different kind of table decoration for the holiday feast this year? Why not make a few floating pumpkin candles? Buy those smaller pumpkins that are often left over at the grocery store because they are a little too small to carve and a corresponding number of votive candles (preferably  beeswax for a little extra green flair) Hold a votive candle over the top of the pumpkin and trace a circle around it. Using a small sharp craft knife, carefully cut out the circle so that a votive candle will fit into the hole snugly. Repeat with all the candles. Fill bowls or pails with water, light the candles and float the pumpkins in the water.
  • Store bought air fresheners are often not only very environmentally unfriendly but they are also pretty expensive. A pumpkin air freshener is a wonderful alternative. After you have scooped out the fruit’s innards rub the inside of the pumpkin shell with a few of your favorite seasonal spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice are particularly pleasant) cut “vent holes” into the sides of the shell with a craft knife or apple corer and place a tea light candle inside. Within minutes the whole room will smell wonderful.

Have more great uses for pumpkin to share? Please head to the newly redesigned Tip the Planet and not only check out our spiffy new look but add your tips to the fastest growing green wiki on the internet.

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.

One Easy Way to Cut Ten Gallons a Day off Your Home’s Water Consumption

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Want to cut down on the amount of water you use in your home? There is actually one simple trick that can not only reduce the amount of water you waste on a daily basis by seven to ten gallons but shave a few cents every day off your water bill (and those cents add up to big dollars of the course of the year.)

The old folk wisdom that says place a brick in your toilet’s water tank is partially correct: It is an effortless way to save water, but a brick probably isn’t the best thing to put in your toilet tank. Instead simply place a full plastic water bottle with a little sand in the bottom in the tank. It does the job very well and does not add the kind of weight that could crack your fixture over time.

This will not usually decrease the flushing capacity of your toilets if you are worried about that. The average modern toilet needs about eight gallons to function properly each time someone flushes. A bottle in the tank will displace enough water to save half a gallon to a gallon each use.

While you are in the bathroom though why not look around for other ways to save even more water? There are a growing number of bathroom fixtures on the market that are designed to minimize the amount of water you consume in the bathroom that are nowhere near as expensive as you might imagine.

From toilets that flush differently according to the “nature of your business” to faucets that turn off as soon as you take your hands out from underneath them, these eco-friendly fixtures will pay for themselves in savings on you water bill over time. The fact that they are also very good looking on the whole is added bonus.

Looking for more great green tips? Then visit Tip the Planet, the fastest growing, and 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

Going Green For Back To School

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Believe it or not it’s almost back to school time again. This year while you are getting the kids ready to hit the books again why not take the extra time to make the whole process a little bit greener. Here are some tips:

Take Inventory Before You Shop – There is no rule that says little Johnny must have a brand new book bag every year if last years is still perfectly serviceable. Neither does he have to have two dozen new pencils if he already has a pencil box full of them. By being realistic about what your kids really need to be ready to go back to school – instead of giving in to what they want – you will reduce waste and save some money.

Go Green Clothes Shopping – New clothes are probably the biggest expenditure Moms and Dads have before every new school year begins. Thrift stores are a great place to find clothes fore back to school and at most of them even your fashionista teenage daughter will be able to find clothes that she approves of. While you are there why not drop off the clothes she has grown out of as well so that a younger girl can take advantage of her superior sense of style.

If you must buy new look for environmentally friendly materials like natural cotton, hemp and wool rather than disposable fashions that’ll wear out (and wear down the planet’s resources) before spring graduation

Be Paper Conscious – Paper still rules the day in moist schools although most of the rest of the world has almost forgotten what taking notes in a notebook (other than the laptop computer kind) actually is. This said you can still make greener choices when buying your kids stationery supplies. Buy products with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content possible, that is processed chlorine free (PCF), such as New Leaf Paper for printers, and Mead Recycled Notebooks for use in school.

These are just a few tips for adding a little green to your back to school routine. For more great tips about all things green, or to add your own, please visit Tip the Planet, the fastest growing Green Wiki on the Web.

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.

Drinking Responsibly

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
In the summer when the temperature rises everyone, quite naturally, is a little thirstier. Adding a slight twist to the phrase “drink responsibly” here are some easy ways to quench your thirst the green way:
H20 – Drinking plenty of plain water every day (the recommendation is that you try to drink at least 8 glasses a day) is great for you but those plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment. If you really cannot bear to drink the water straight from the tap invest in a water filter, either one that affixes to the faucet or a pitcher with a filter and then fill up a reusable canteen with the water you need to get through the day. Not only will you be helping to save a little space in the landfills but you will save yourself money as well.  More great water tips
Beer and Wine – When it comes to the hard stuff there are more and more organic wines and beers coming onto the market every day or alternately you could try your hand at actually making your own. Homemade wine, made with local fruits of course, can taste every bit as good as the stuff you find at the store and wine making is a more interesting hobby to list on your social networking profile than say, watching TV. If you aren’t up to brewing your own beer at least try to support your local brewery and then recycle the cans or bottles whenever you can. More alcohol tips
Hot Beverages – Just because its summer does not mean anyone gives up their morning coffee or tea. If you are a tea drinker only fill your kettle with the amount of water you actually need and think about reusing your tea bags. Coffee addicts should give up that expensive Starbucks habit and invest in a thermos and a pound of gourmet fair trade coffee to brew at home (and even after that expense you will still be saving money. –  More beverage tips
Have more drink tips we missed here?

Or, if you have too much beer, here are some alternative uses