Easy Ways to Help your Car Guzzle less Gas

July 22nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiring Re Use in Your Community

July 13th, 2010

Reduce,reuse, recycle – a mantra we have been hearing for years now. The recycling bit? We are all getting better at that and the reduce part is catching on as well. The reuse? Still needs some work. Here are some great ways you(yes, humble little you) can inspire reuse in your community and really make a difference to feel good about.

Freecycle not RecycleFreecycle is an amazing website that lets users (both individuals and businesses) post items they no longer need. Items are dispersed free of charge on a first come first served basis so as soon as you spot someone’s trash that in fact you would consider a treasure get your request in right way.

Post on Craigslist –  Freecycle can be a little hit-or-miss, since your emails might not get answered right away. For a faster response (and a way to maybe make a buck or two) post your unwanted goods on Craigslist. No you won’t get rich (Craigslist enthusiasts are the ultimate bargain hunters) but you’ll brighten someone else’s day and keep those old cell phones/CDs/dog eared paperbacks out of the local landfill.

Start a Book and Magazine exchange – Personally I  love readingmagazines of all kinds but really how many times can I read about Lindsay Lohan’s adventures (as salacious as they are) And do you really need that stack of Newsweeks that have been sitting next to the toilet for months? Once you have read your magazine pass it on to a neighbor to enjoy as well. The same holds true for those summer beach books.

Many communities have now set up formal book and magazine exchanges at places like the post office or local grocery store. It’s a great way to reuse and to get more people doing a bit of old fashioned reading in the computer age.

Frequent your Local Thrift store – When you have that bi annual clean out of the closets, garage, attic or whatever don’t throw the good stuff away (clothes, toys, the computer monitor you upgraded from last month) If they are in good, useable shape take them down to your local thrift store instead. The charities they usually serve get money when they sell the items, and someone else in the area gets a great bargain.

And fashionistas, don’t be thrift store snobs. I am a frequent (and well-practiced) thrift store shopper and the clothing I have scored on some of those trips is the kind I couldn’t afford in a month of Sundays. All it takes is a keen eye and the patience to go through the racks.

Have more ideas to share to help encourage reuse in the community? Share them at Tip the Planet– the green wiki that is growing and educating people in the art of environmental responsibility every day, thanks to people like you.

The Best (and Worst) Seafood for a Healthy, Green Diet

July 7th, 2010

In the summer light tasting meals are what we are all looking for so many people’s thoughts (and shopping lists) turn to seafood. Not all seafood is created equal though, both in terms of nutritional value for humans and the preservation of the environment and marine ecosystems worldwide. So what fish should you be adding to your healthy and eco-friendly menu and which should you avoid? Here are the top three in both categories.

3 Top Seafoods for a Healthy, Green Diet

To make the list, fish must have low levels of contaminants—below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCB, be high in omega-3 fatty acids (excellent for your health)  and last but not least come from a sustainable fishery.

  1. Albacore Tuna – Some tunas are high in mercury but that is not true of albacore tuna (the kind you usually find in cans) Albacore gets the number ranking as long (and this is the clincher) it has been pole (or troll) caught. This method catches the smaller fish that have not had time to be exposed to high levels of mercury and pole fishing is kinder in general to the marine population. To ensure that you are picking the best albacore tuna possible do a little research to find out where it was caught or look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco label.
  2. Farmed Mussels and Oysters – Both farmed mussels and oysters are exceptionally good for you as they are packed with omega 3s and iron but they are good for the environment too. Both of them feed of algae and other natural nutrients in the water, which improves water quality and they can even form reefs to house other displaced fish. One cooking tip though, don’t eat them raw that can be very risky.
  3. Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon – Operations along the salmon fishing areas in Alaska are tight. Biologists are posted at river mouths to count how many wild fish return to spawn. If the numbers begin to dwindle, the fishery is closed before it reaches its limits. Water quality is also strictly regulated and the fish that come from these waters are healthy, nutritious and extremely tasty.

Top 3 Seafoods to Avoid

  1. Bluefin Tuna – At the end of 2009 the World Wildlife Fund added the Bluefin tuna to its “10 for 2010” threatened species list. Bluefin tuna are not that good for you either – they contain high levels of mercury and carry an EDF health alert.
  2. Chilean Sea Bass – Because they are so prized for their buttery tasting meat by gourmets everywhere the Chilean Sea Bass has been fished to near depletion in its native cold Antarctic waters. The methods used to catch them – trawling and long lines – hurt other marine life as well.
  3. Orange Roughy – This is a fish that has a long, long lifespan but reproduces only occasionally, making it very vulnerable to overfishing. And because the orange roughy in your freezer could have been as old as 100 (they regularly life that long) then chances are they are full of mercury as well, something that caused the EDF to issue a health advisory.

To learn more about which seafood you should pass on at the grocery store visit Tip the Planet, the fastest growing green wiki on the Internet

Easy Ways you can Help Preserve our Oceans

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.

The Path to Greener Beauty

June 25th, 2010

Going green does not have to be painful or expensive. In fact in many instances switching to a healthier and/or more eco-friendly solution or habit may in fact up saving you some of the other green stuff we all worry about – money.

Take for instance your beauty regime. There are many ways to make it greener, healthier and cheaper. Here are some of the best of them:

Skin Cleansing – Spending half a week’s wages on the latest chemical laced creams and potions in an attempt to keep the wrinkles at bay, or gain a clearer complexion, seems rather silly when you realize that Mother Nature has already created  some pretty great skin care products herself. You can replace that expensive designer cleanser with simple ingredients found in your own fridge.

For example, did you know that a cotton ball soaked in plain old milk (hot or cold) cleanses as well as anything you can buy in the store and is gentler on sensitive skin as well? Or that rose water is perhaps the best toner you can buy and at a fraction of the cost? For more alternative and environmentally friendly skincare solutions check out Tip the Planet’s Skin Care section.

Hair Care –  Good old Mother Nature has also done a pretty good job on the hair care front as well. Why spend money on that spray bleach that you put in your hair to lighten it in the sun? Plain lemon juice gets the job done just as well; simply comb it through your hair before you go out sunbathing. It costs a lot less and won’t damage your hair like the bleach will. That expensive hot oil treatment? Olive oil is even better and since the chances are that it is already sitting in your kitchen cupboard it saves you a trip to the store as well. Learn more about green, (well maybe not literally) healthy hair by visiting our Tips for Healthy Hair section.

Cosmetics – No one is telling you have to throw away your collections of eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks but there are some alternatives to many of these products that are better for you, your skin and the environment. A number of cosmetic companies are making an effort to take the harmful stuff out of their products (did you know that some nail polishes contain formaldehyde?)  so reading the ingredients before you buy is essential (to read  more visit our  Health and Beauty Hub)

By the way, don’t forget that the purpose of Tip the Planet is to create a green wiki full of shared knowledge and wisdom, so if you have tips of your own to add please take a few minutes to do so, it’s not hard.

Alternative Health Treatments that are Weird ..but Work

June 22nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

Tipping the Planet

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.

Drinking Responsibly

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

Going Green for the Summer

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

Going Green on the Go – Tips for Eco Friendly Cell Phone Use

June 1st, 2010
A cell phone – it seems like everyone has one these days, including your nine year old niece and your ninety year old Granny. To suggest to most people that they give up their mobile is akin to suggesting that they cut off their right arm. So no one is going to do that but there are a number of ways you can make your mobile chatting habits a little greener.
For instance most people probably have no ides just how much power that tiny little Sidekick in their pocket is eating up every minute that it is switched on. One way you can go green on the go is to change the way you charge your phone. By using a solar charger you will actually save yourself quite a bit of money as well as getting the satisfaction of knowing you are reducing your personal carbon footprint.
Even greener are the new generation of eco-friendly cell phones that are beginning to pop up, many of them produced by the big name companies you may already have a cell phone contract with. From the aesthetically astonishing Samsung Blue Earth to the highly unusual Natural Year Phone check out all the great green options available in the eco-friendly cell phones page at Tip the Planet.
There is another growing problem that comes along with all this mobile mania. The majority of cell phone owners upgrade the model of their phone at least every couple of years and many people do so far more often than that. That means that landfills everywhere are cluttered with orphan and outdated cell phones that their owners tossed in trash the second their new phone was charged and ready to go.
Recycling your old cell phone is not hard. There are plenty of private companies and charitable organizations that will be happy to take that old phone off your hands and out of a landfill. Read all about them in the recycling your mobile section at Tip the Planet.
Tip the Planet is fast becoming the most comprehensive green wiki on the web. If you have a great green tip you’d like to share, please do. The better we are all educated in all things environmental the better off we will be.