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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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Toast the New Year with Green Champagne in Biodegradable Packaging


naturally clicquot group

For New Year’s many people will be toasting champagne at midnight. For 2015 you can drink to the new year out of a bottle kept chilled inside packaging made from potatoes. French designer Cédric Ragot has developed an innovative packaging for Veuve Clicquot that is completely biodegradable. Called Naturally Clicquot, the isothermal design can keep a chilled bottle cool for up to 2 hours.

naturally clicquot open

The packaging is made from potato starch and paper and because of this, Naturally Clicquot’s packaging is 100% biodegradable. Even the label is made using recycled paper. A promotional video about the design that addresses the problem of packaging waste can be viewed on the Veuve Clicquot website. This innovatively packaged champagne will cost about $58 but is a unique, eco-friendly buy.

vineard grapes

If looking for other tasty, eco-friendly champagnes to toast to the new year here are a few “greener” options.

  • Vranken Pommery: obtained environmental certification for their practices of waste management, sustainable growing, water conservation and energy conservation.
  • Domaine Carneros: certified by California certified organic farmers in 2008. This vineyard uses photovoltaic solar power for energy.
  • Leclerc Briant: this biodynamic winemaker uses only natural products for repellents and compost for fertilizers.
  • Champagne Fleury: a biodynamic winery using compost as fertilizer since the 1970’s. Organically grown grapes and no pesticides.

Pommery POP rosePommery, my first pick, can be found online at BevMo.com and its Brut Royal champagne will cost about $40 if you’re a club member otherwise it’s about $60. Pommery can also be found on wine.com prices vary from $130 for a vintage bottle to $54 for POP. Perhaps Pommery’s “greenest” bottle would be POP Earth, but it is sold out on wine.com. The Earth champagne reflects the brand’s commitment to using sustainable practices. Earth’s bottle used lighter glass, 1.85 lbs. instead of 2 lbs., reducing energy cost during shipping. Earth’s label is also made from recycled materials and printed with water soluble ink.

So welcome in the new year with an alternative champagne and toast to a greener year. Cheers!

related: more eco-friendly libations reviewed on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

rustic dining tables in reclaimed cypress


rustic dining table in reclaimed cycpress

A finely crafted piece of furniture created from reclaimed wood can add character and country flair to almost any home. The patina, grain patterns and saw cuts inherent in these tables created by Texas-based furniture maker, Jacob Triche and Revival Supply Co., provide plenty of eye-catching appeal. Many of Jacob’s pieces are made utilizing locally sourced reclaimed cypress in a patchwork pattern.

reclaimed rustic cycpress table

dining table in reclaimed pine and cypress

Consumers in search of unique home furnishing solutions should always consider purchasing handcrafted pieces created by local craftspeople from reclaimed materials before buying expensive, machine-made furniture from giant chain stores. In doing so, you can save money, help preserve old growth forests, support local businesses and benefit from all the history, craftsmanship, character and patina inherent in in these pieces.

related: more eco-friendy furniture featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Telling Time Using Water – the Water Clock


droplet clock

Water is a miracle molecule that supports all life on earth. In ancient times water was used to tell time, a practice still used today. Bedol, an innovative company, took historical practices a step further and literally made a clock that works using water.

how water clock works

The clock is a simple galvanic cell. These cells generate their power using a submerged cathode and anode in electrolytic solution. More simply put, a positive metal like copper and a negative metal like zinc are submerged in a solution containing electrolytes. Water in the solution allows the electrolytes to transfer between the two metals, generating power.

In concept, a clock that runs on nothing but water sounds like a great idea; keeping people from using and tossing out AAA batteries. Marketed as being eco-friendly some controversy is surrounding the actual “green-ness” of the product.

Pros:
•    No batteries, and no need for external power.
•    Clock body is non-PVC plastic and recyclable.
•    Runs on a small volume of water.

Cons:
•    Longevity is uncertain.
•    Maintenance is required.
•    Display doesn’t light up.

filling water clock

A recyclable clock that never needs batteries and is self-powered using water is definitely an eco-friendly idea. However what stops this clock from really being green is the uncertainty of how long it will work. Some owner’s claim that the clock lasted years, others say they had problems after only a few months.

This uncertainty in longevity can be due to improper care, water quality, maintenance or simply a good idea but bad design. Websites like how stuff works say that natural lemon juice needs to be added to the tap water. There is no solid consensus on how much to add and no mention by Bedol that lemon juice is needed. At the end of the day having to replace the clock after so short a lifetime may not cancel out the evil of using batteries.

squirt water clock

Bedol has a wide variety of water powered clock designs from wall mounts to table toppers. The newest addition seen above is the squirt. It sells for $26 on Bedol’s website but is also available on amazon and eBay. The other clock designs can range in price from $20 to $90. In the end, the water powered clock from Bedol is a great idea but may be one that needs refinement.

related: more green gadgets featured by The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Eco-Fashion Friday Finds – the little black dress


handmade little black dress

(above) Mia Lola Asymmetrical Little Black Dress takes its shape from two separate pieces: a midi length dress plus an asymmetrical top. Fabric is 95% Viscose from bamboo and 55% Spandex for some stretchability. Perfect for travel and easy care. Handmade in Canada, ( find @ JessicaRoseFashion on etsy $242.62).

coco dress

seville vicose black dress

(above) Take your pick: Coco ($188) or Seville ($218) via eco-conscious Reformation. (more…)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kissing Under The Mistletoe


fresh Mistletoe

For thousands of years mistletoe has been a symbolic herb. Ancient cultures like Greece and Rome used it in medical treatments. The Celtic Druids of the First Century A.D thought the plant had romantic overtones because mistletoe can bloom even in the frozen winter. And in Norse mythology it was the plant used by Loki to kill Odin’s son, Baldur.

Kissing mistletoe

The kissing tradition seems to have started with servants in England then spread to the middle class. Men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe and refusing was viewed as bad luck.

But mistletoe’s use is not limited to this festive tradition. In fact, it has been used as a medical herb for centuries. What is mistletoe? Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on several types of trees. including: apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, birch. Because of its semi-parasitic nature, mistletoe needs a host tree to survive and live off.

dried mistletoe

(photo above: dried mistletoe) Over the years, mistletoe has been used to treat epilepsy, hypertension, headaches, infertility, arthritis, rheumatism and menopausal symptoms. Most interesting is that it has also been used in the treatment of cancer. Mistletoe is believed to be a possible anticancer agent because it has been shown to: have an effect on the immune system, killed mouse rat and human cancer cells in the laboratory, protect the DNA in white blood cells including cells damaged by chemotherapy drugs in the lab. Mostly used in clinical trials, mistletoe has also been used as adjuvant therapy in patients with cancer and is injected under the skin.

Mistletoe extract

But most of this is happening in Europe: the use of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition is not approved by the FDA, (Food and Drug Administration). So in America, mistletoe extract has only been used in clinical trials. Also important to note is that American-grown mistletoe is unsafe for medicinal use  – mistletoe extracts use European mistletoe. Despite not being approved by the FDA various mistletoe extracts are still available on Amazon and a 2-ounce bottle can vary in price from 15 to 30 dollars.

mistletoe tea bags

You can also buy it as an herbal tea. Mistletoe herbal tea is believed to help prevent build up in artery walls and may also protect (more…)

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