Great Green Uses for Leftover Halloween Pumpkin

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

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.

Have a Green Halloween

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.

Developing Green Tech that Could Change Your Life

October 5th, 2010

Tech and green do not always go together, but some researchers around the world are really working hard to achieve just that. And some of the innovative projects they are working on have the potential to not only help save the planet but to revolutionize peoples’ everyday lives. Here are a few of our favorites:

Solar Powered No Paste Toothbrushes – Take a walk down the tooth care aisle in any pharmacy and you are faced with a huge array of products for keeping your pearly whites bright. The downside (apart from the cost) id that many of these products are packaged in wasteful cardboard boxes. A solar powered tooth brush is being developed however that will do away with the need for toothpaste altogether, while still providing, its creators relive, a superior clean.

Kunio Komiyama and Gerry Uswak, both dental professors are developing the Soladey-J3X. It has has a small solar panel and titanium dioxide rod embedded inside and when a small amount of light hits the brush electrons are sent to the bristles that react with the enzymes in the user’s saliva to remove plaque and kill of disease causing bacteria. The brush is currently being trialed by a group of 120 teenagers to see how they think it stacks up before the Soladey-J3X goes into production.

Biodegradable Festival Tents – One of the problems that music festivals organizers face is the debris left behind by festival goers after the show is over. Rather than pack up and leave many people just leave, discarding their cheap tents and leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

To address the problem a Canadian researcher is working on a biodegradable festival tent. . One of Vanessa Harden’s more recent prototypes is a foldable cardboard tent embedded with local seeds, coated in bees wax, covered in biodegrading cellophane and anchored with biodegradable potato-based pegs.

She trialed her creation at this year’s T in the Park festival in Scotland. The tent she reported fared well, standing up to the rain and mud very well. However returning one night she found that her creation had completely disappeared. She is still not sure if it blew away or was stolen by a shelter-less soul. Her work continues though.

The Human Monorail – If you are like me the idea of cycling to work sounds great, until it comes to dealing with all those roaring cars and trucks that are far from cyclist friendly. A new monorail system being developed in New Zealand might help green conscious commuters feel a little safer though.

The monorail is based on a fairground ride already in existence. Inventor Geoff Barnett got the idea while in Tokyo, wishing he had a quicker and safer way to get around the city. His system uses pods locked onto an enclosed track that work efficiently with low resistance. The pods have reclining seats, ventilation holes and roofs that reflect the sun’s bright rays. The team developing it recently received a $1 million grant from the Google funded

10^100 to continue their work.

To learn more about great green tech innovations visit the world’s fastest growing green wiki Tip The Planet

Saving our bacon – pig keeping and using Tip the Planet

October 3rd, 2010

From our Blog – A Walk on the Wild Site

We’re constantly rooting around looking for information on building and farming methods in our search to do things efficiently and not re-invent the wheel. When we set up this blog, I made it a blog. I wanted to show how the site is slowly becoming more and more useful and tie the practical muck-between-the-toes lifestyle out here, with something lasting. Tip the Planet seemed like a good way to do this. Not only can we write about our journey, for friends, family and interested folks. We can also record our learnings, research, failures in a central place so that people can benefit from our experiences.

Here’s a case in point. We wanted to find out about keeping and rearing pigs in the tropics for bacon and fertilization reasons.

Instead of spending hours and hours researching, which is difficult with a slow internet connection, I requested an article on pigs and an additional about keeping pigs in the tropics on this page. Basically it’s a feature where you can ask for a page to be made by the Tip the Planet community and those with knowledge or time will contribute to the article. Then, a day or two later, I checked back onto the site to find that someone had built both pages and highlighted the tips.

These pages are here – keeping pigs and here – keeping pigs in the tropics.

Suddenly we had a wealth of information to use, all in one place. Not only that, but when we experiment ourselves, we can add new tips and thoughts to this, to improve the resource for anyone who wants to keep pigs in future to use. Plus others might comment on the work we’ve done and suggest improvements and changes – especially those with experience.

…and just a few days ago, we went and collected Kesho (which means tomorrow in Swahili – as a result of our inevitable inability to kill him), a little character who is currently spending his hours breaking out of our poorly constructed pig pen, but will one day will be the father of many a young piglet that we’ll try not to get so attached to so that we have a ready supply of bacon. Photos and Kesho diaries to come.

Green Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Gift Wrap

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.

Xeriscaping – There’s More to it Than Cacti

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?

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

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

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

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.