New Teas from The Republic of Tea

Hands Up Not Handouts

Made By Hand

Greening Your Paycheck

Vermicomposting. What It Is and How It Works

12 Ways to Green Your Holiday Season

nature conserve

friendship bag

THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The most popular
articles of the year…

Hibiscus, The New Superflower!
New Teas From The Republic Of Tea

Earlier this year, The Republic of Tea introduced five new HIBISCUS SUPERFLOWER TEAS, each with an exotic, caffeine-free herbal bouquet of premium African hibiscus, a “Superflower” that brews a rich, full-bodied cup and features remarkable health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.**

Teas made from hibiscus flowers are a very common beverage in the tropical regions where they grow. Hibiscus Superflower Teas are made using premium African hibiscus, primarily from Nigeria. A tropical marvel, ruby-red African hibiscus shines through in these evocatively fruity herbal teas, revealing layers of flavors comparable to cranberry/citrus and gentle hints of rhubarb and raspberry.

The Hibiscus Superflower Teas includes five herbal varieties: Natural Hibiscus, unflavored pure hibiscus, Hibiscus Blueberry, lush, deep flavor of fragrant blueberries, Hibiscus Vanilla Apple, vanilla and apples reminiscent of apple pie, Hibiscus Key Lime, refreshing and crisp key lime flavor and Hibiscus Pineapple Lychee, luscious pineapple with creamy Chinese Lychee.

Drinking hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults, according to a report presented by nutrition scientist Diane McKay at the American Heart Association's annual conference in 2008. Hypertension is a condition in which blood pressure is chronically high and it affects one-third of all U.S. adults. Results suggest consumption of three daily cups of a hibiscus drink lowers blood pressure in pre and mildly hypertensive adults and is likely to prove effective when incorporated into the diets of those people at risk of developing hypertension.**

Hibiscus Superflower Teas are available in recyclable tins containing 36 all natural, unbleached, round tea bags free of unnecessary strings, tags and staples and has a suggested retail price of $9.50. They are available nationwide at natural and specialty food stores, cafes and through the company web site, (www.REPUBLICofTEA.com), mail-order catalogue and by calling, 800.298.4TEA (832).

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation without the advice of a healthcare practitioner.

**Abstract 3278: Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults. Diane L McKay; Edward Saltzman; Chung-Yen Chen, Jeffrey B Blumberg (November 2008).

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Hands Up Not Handouts

Women are the backbone of families and societies around the world. According to Hands Up Not Handouts (HUNHO) they perform 66% of all labor, produce 50% of the world’s food and bear 100% of children. However despite their vast contributions 70% of women live in poverty and own only 1% of the world's assets.

Hands Up Not Handouts is trying to change these statistics and with your support women artisans from developing countries will be able to translate their traditional handicrafts into high-quality and innovative products that can be marketed at a premium price, using the profits to support their families and communities.

You may have seen fashionable celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Rachel Bilson, Rihanna, and Kate Hudson rocking the stylish, hand-crafted wrap around bracelets, cuffs, and earrings and now you can have a chance to wear them too. For a small price you can help make a big change in the lives of woman around the country. The jewelry ranges in price from $40 - $50.

Created by the philanthropic Sager Family HUNHO implements programs that give impoverished woman opportunities to utilize their native skills and materials to make a difference in their lives long term. HUNHO is designed to empower women artisans to become business leaders within their communities by supporting the production and retail of unique handcrafts. All proceeds go back to the women, their families and communities, in order for them to be self-sustainable. The first two cooperatives launched by HUNHO to be featured on its e-commerce website (HandsUpNothandouts.org), are collections from Rwanda and Palestine. All products featured in the program, in addition to being perfect every day accessories serve as symbols of friendship, hope, and global connection aiding in bridging the cultural and economic divide. www.handsupnothandouts.org

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MADE BY HAND:
Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
By Mark Frauenfelder

"This is a must-read book. Mark has lovingly and candidly documented the complex, myriad, intangible and often very tangible rewards of grabbing the world with both of your hands, and learning how it works." -- Adam Savage, Mythbusters

From his unique vantage point as editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes readers on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal-powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.

DIY is a direct reflection of our basic human desire to invent and improve, long suppressed by the availability of cheap, mass-produced products that have drowned us in bland convenience and cultivated our most wasteful habits.

Frauenfelder spent a year trying a variety of offbeat projects such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his daughters in the garage. His whole family found that DIY helped them take control of their lives, offering a path that was simple, direct, and clear. Working with their hands and minds helped them feel more engaged with the world around them.

Frauenfelder also reveals how DIY is changing our culture for the better. He profiles fascinating “alpha makers” leading various DIY movements and grills them for their best tips and insights.

Beginning his journey with hands as smooth as those of a typical geek, Frauenfelder offers a unique perspective on how earning a few calluses can be far more rewarding and satisfying than another trip to the mall.

Published by Penguin Group USA. May 2010. Hardcover. 256 pages. $25.95. For more information or to purchase, www.bn.com, or visit your local bookstore.

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Greening Your Paycheck
The Earth-Friendly Benefits of Direct Deposit
 

A new survey of 4,000 employed Americans reveals immediate opportunity for every business to save more money and help the environment with its payroll using Direct Deposit (DD).

Environmental benefits of Direct Deposit:

According to the PayItGreen.org 2010 Survey, Direct Deposit drastically decreases an employer’s carbon footprint. If a business that employs 300 people and issues paychecks every two weeks switched to Direct Deposit, in one year, it would save 121 pounds of paper; avoid the release of 1,159 gallons of wastewater into the environment; save 45 gallons of gas; and avoid the release of 346 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The PayItGreen 2010 Survey also revealed that these “green” benefits of Direct Deposit resonate with employees. Fifty-five percent of those using Direct Deposit find it very or extremely motivating that Direct Deposit has a positive impact on the environment.

Financial benefits of Direct Deposit:

The NACHA (non-profit representing 10,000+ financial institutions)/PayItGreen.org, survey reveals:

  • 72% of US employees receive their pay via Direct Deposit (DD)
  • Only 4 in 10 small business employees use DD for their paycheck. “Lack of employer offering” is the main reason cited by employees not using DD.
  • 86 percent of employees in large companies use DD
  • “Convenience” is cited as the primary reason for using DD by employees
  • 5 out of 10 employees using DD find the positive environmental impact very motivating
  • Industry-wise, the “consumer services,” “food/leisure,” and “construction” sectors lag the most in offering DD to employees

Savings: Businesses that use DD for payroll can save anywhere from $2.87 to $3.15 per paycheck by using DD vs. paper checks.

A business with 25 employees would save at least $2000 / year. A business with 100 employees could save $19,000 / year and larger business much more, with little effort.

For more information visit To learn more, visit www.nacha.org, www.electronicpayments.org, and www.payitgreen.org.

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Vermicomposting
What It Is and How It Works…

Virtually untouched for centuries, Little St. Simons Island is a barrier island off Georgia’s coast that features seven miles of pristine beaches, cottages for just 32 overnight guests, ancient maritime forests, tidal creeks and shimmering marshes. The island offers a rare combination of complete privacy in an unspoiled wilderness with the genuine Southern hospitality of the island’s attentive and knowledgeable staff. Accessible only by boat, Little St. Simons Island retains that charm and unhurried pace of coastal living where time is measured only by the rise and fall of the tides.

In 2008, Little St. Simons Island’s garden received organic certification from the USDA. Since then, the island’s vermicomposting and 3-bin composting systems have worked overtime to generate the rich “black gold”/compost that resulted in a fertile garden delivering fresh vegetables and herbs served to the island’s guests. Amy Shuster, Little St. Simons Island’s gardener, and the island’s team of naturalists share great info on just how easy it is to incorporate composting into the everyday home. And, fall is the ideal time for us to begin, so let’s get started!

Vermicomposting Background
The cool temperatures, particularly the milder late fall, winter and early spring temperatures in the American south, pave the way to perfect conditions for active composting systems. Calcium deposits from Red wiggler worms contribute to the rich soil produced through vermicomposting and are deposited at optimum pace during the cooler months. The cooler temperatures result in increased rates of reproduction; therefore, food is broken down more quickly and efficiently with additional worms who are responsible for eating the microorganisms that break down the food. Food waste is a major component in landfills and releases detrimental methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Americans throw away lots of food waste each year which equals more than 25% of the food we prepare! For example, a family of four generates on average one pound of kitchen scraps each day.

These simple steps to creating an at-home vermicomposting system will turn kitchen scraps into rich “black gold,” not only giving the disposal a break, but also reducing greenhouse gases all while creating fertile soil, the foundation for a successful garden!

Vermicomposting Guide

1. Select a worm bin. A popular plastic vermicomposting unit is Can O’Worms which can be found at several online retailers. Benefits of this system include the enclosed tiered system (which greatly helps to reduce odors) and a tray at the bottom of the unit designed to trap the highly sought after “vermicompost tea.” This unit features three trays in which the worms work through the trays processing waste and depositing their castings on the lower level. If you’d like to make a system at home with materials in hand, a ventilated plastic bin (such as a recycling bin) works well. Guard ventilation holes with netting to prevent worms from escaping.

2. Purchase red wigglers or red worms which are packed in peat and can be ordered from various online sites.

3. Gather your bedding materials. Cardboard, torn into small pieces, and shredded newspaper are ideal materials. Avoid glossy paper from newspaper inserts, magazines, coated cardboard and shredded office paper as these may contain toxins harmful to the worms.

4. Moisten bedding materials with dechlorinated water (to dechlorinate: allow jugs of water from the faucet to sit out in the open for 1-2 days). Slowly add water to bedding materials until materials become damp, simulating the feel of a wrung-out sponge. If possible, add garden soil to your bedding materials at this stage. The worms will benefit from the gritty texture and the microorganisms introduced by the soil will expedite the breaking down of scraps.

5. Place bedding in bin and add worms. Allow bin to be exposed to light during the first hour to encourage worms to burrow into soil as they escape the light. Cover bin and set aside for 2-3 days before adding scraps, allowing the worms to nestle into their new home. When kept happy, worms can turn kitchen waste to rich compost in 1-2 months.

6. Store bin in a cool and convenient location, ideally between 55-80 degrees F.

7. Spread scraps around bottom tray, cover with bedding materials and allow the worms to work! Ideal scraps include raw vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit, and cereal.

For more info about Little St. Simon Island, visit www.littlestsimonsisland.com.

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12 Ways to Green Your
Holiday Season

1. Treecycling: Christmas trees can be re-purposed into mulch and used in gardening and landscaping or chipped and used on hiking trails and paths. Christmas trees can also been used for erosion control, soil stabilization and shoreline maintenance. When used in this manner, the trees not only stabilize the soil, but also provide habitats for fish and birds.

2. Scrap the Traditional Wrap: Wrap holiday gifts with children’s artwork or a colorful section of your local newspaper. Some beautiful remnant fabric or what was once a “must have” scarf would make cheerful holiday gift wrapping.

3. Light up the Night with LED Lights: Energy-saving LED lights burn brighter, last longer, and save you money.

4. Green Greetings: sending e-cards—saves time, money and the planet. When the holidays are over, why not turn some of those beautiful greeting cards you received into gift tags for next year? Start by separating the front of the prettiest holiday cards from the back. Trim the edges of the front, following the design of the card, to create a festive gift tag.

5. Give Back: give a gift that makes a difference—changing a life or saving a life. Donate to a local or favorite charity in a friend’s name.

6. Decorate with Nature: create a beautiful holiday wreath using gifts from nature. Collect pinecones, twigs, branches adorned with berries and more from your own backyard, use wire to create the round wreath shape, and decorate with festive ribbons. A great, and green, family project.

7. Shop local: walk into town to do your holiday shopping. Neighborhood shops offer festive and unique holiday gifts—no more gas-guzzling spins around the mall parking lot looking for a parking spot.

8. Use Wrapping for Scrapping: Use holiday-themed wrapping from gifts that you receive for festive scrapbooking page borders. Ribbons, bows and embellishments will also help to create lively holiday memory keepsakes.

9. Give Battery-Free Toys: battery sales spike during the holiday season and these batteries can end up in landfills. Art sets and craft projects provide inspiration and feed imagination.

10. Serve Organic and Locally Sourced Meals: visit local farmers markets to shop for your holiday menu. Locally made jellies and jams also make great gifts.

11. Teach Kids About Giving: after all the new gifts have been opened, ask kids to select a toy they no longer play with and have them donate it to a children’s hospital or child care center. What was old will now seem new again to a child this holiday season.

12. Remember Those in Need: Clean out your closets and donate gently used clothes and coats to local thrift shops and shelters.

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