Celebrating National Iced Tea Month in June

Top 10 Most Important Items to Recycle

Where To Find A Green Home In The US

Green Your Yard Sale

How to Cook Asparagus

Surfrider Foundation Unveils International Surfing Day Celebrating 10-Years of Stoke on June 20

nature conserve

Celebrating National Iced Tea Month in June

It was a scorching hot summer day at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and festival attendees were uninterested in the hot tea that Richard Blechynden was serving. Attempting to salvage the day, he poured his brewed tea over ice, and the quintessential English tradition of “taking tea” was forever changed. Crediting the “invention” of iced tea to Richard Blechynden is the subject of great debate, but all might agree that his efforts helped to popularize this most refreshing and delicious elixir.

It's cool, refreshing, good for you, and so popular that an entire month has been set aside to celebrate…Summer is here and so is National Iced Tea Month. “June’s National Iced Tea Month is a good time to drink up the many benefits of tea," says Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Council of the USA. “It’s tasty, refreshing, has zero calories and is chock full of health benefits, so it’s a terrific beverage choice. With a multitude of research suggesting that the substances in tea may help the body maintain healthy cells and tissues, contribute to heart health and keep your weight in check, why would anyone choose to drink anything else?”

According to the Tea Association of the USA, approximately 85% of tea consumed in America is iced and over the last ten years, Ready-To-Drink Tea (RTD) has grown more than 15 fold. In 2012, Ready-To-Drink sales were conservatively estimated at $4.8 billion and this trend continues in 2013.

In the southern US they make sweet tea, in Thailand it is called cha yen, and in Austria the refreshing drink is called “ice” tea, rather than “iced” tea. No matter what you call it, iced tea is a satisfying and refreshing beverage enjoyed the world over.

When you home brew your iced tea you can customize it to your particular preference—some like it sweet, others unsweetened, some prefer fruit infusions like blood oranges or summer peaches, others prefer just a simple lemon wedge or sprig of mint as a garnish. If you don’t homebrew, RTD (ready to drink) teas are a convenient and delicious way to enjoy iced tea. A trip to the convenience store or local supermarket will reveal dozens of brands—each offering something to appeal to the varying tastes of today’s iced tea drinking consumer.

Iced tea fun facts:

  • The oldest known recipe for sweet ice tea was published in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree. This recipe calls for green tea. In fact, most sweet tea consumed during this time period was green tea. However, during World War II, the major sources of green tea were cut off from the United States, leaving consumers with tea almost exclusively from British-controlled India.
  • Today, if you ask for an “Arnold Palmer” you will be served a mix of iced tea and lemonade. It is named after its creator, golf legend, Arnold Palmer.
  • “Texas tea” in the Beverly Hillbilly’s theme song refers to oil--nothing to do with tea at all.
  • In 2003 Georgia state representative John Noel tried to pass a house bill making it mandatory for all restaurants to serve sweet tea. Mr. Noel insists it was an April Fools' Day joke but admits he wouldn’t mind if it became law.
  • The famous “long island iced tea” drink doesn’t contain any tea.

It has been more than 100 years since Blechynden’s cool idea and iced tea remains one of the America’s most beloved beverages.

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Top 10 Most Important Items to Recycle

This list from the National Recycling Coalition, posted on Care2, outlines 10 of the most important items to recycle and why:

#1: Aluminum. This is because aluminum cans are 100 percent recyclable and can also be recycled over and over again. Even better, turning recycled cans into new cans takes 95 percent less energy than making brand-new ones. So how about starting with all those soda and juice cans?

#2: PET Plastic Bottles. Americans will buy about 25 billion single-serving bottles of water this year, according to the Container Recycling Institute. Worse yet, nearly 80 percent of those bottles will end up in a landfill. Let’s put a stop to that. Making plastic out of recycled resources uses about two-thirds less energy than making new plastic. And because plastic bottles, more than any other type of plastic, are the most commonly used type, they are usually the easiest to recycle.

#3: Newspaper. This is a pretty obvious one, right? It seems like a no-brainer to set up a recycling bin next to your garbage can for newspaper and any other scrap paper. So why should we recycle paper? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper makes up about one-third of the all the municipal waste stream in the U.S. That’s a whole lot of paper, and since we know that recycling all that paper conserves resources, saves energy, and doesn’t clog up the landfills, there’s no reason not to do it.

#4: Corrugated Cardboard. Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) represents a significant percentage of the commercial solid waste stream. The U.S. generates millions of tons of OCC, with approximately 90% of that coming from the commercial or non-residential sector, the places where we work. So next time UPS delivers a big box to your office, be sure to break it down and recycle it.

#5: Steel cans. Just like aluminum, steel products can be recycled over again without compromising the quality of the steel. We’re talking about steel cans, but maybe you have some steel auto parts or appliances ready for recycling too? More than 80 million tons of steel are recycled each year in North America, and recycling steel saves the equivalent energy to power 18 million households a year. You can learn more about steel recycling by visiting the Steel Recycling Institute website.

#6: HDPE plastic bottles (HDPE stands for high-density polyethylene, a common and more dense plastic, which is used for detergents, bleach, shampoo, milk jugs.) HDPE plastics are identified by the logo on the bottom of the container. (Three arrows in the shape of a triangle.) Check the number inside that logo: numbers 1 and 2 are recyclable almost everywhere, but 3 through 7 are only recyclable in limited areas. And don’t forget to rinse and clean all of your HDPE containers in the sink. Any remaining dirt or food particles can contaminate the recycling process.

#7: Glass containers. Recycled glass saves 50 percent energy versus virgin glass, and recycling just one glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours. Recycled glass generates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution, and one ton of glass made from 50 percent recycled materials saves 250 pounds of mining waste. Wow!

#8: Magazines and #9: Mixed paper. There are so many reasons to recycle all kinds of paper that it makes no sense not to. First, recycled paper saves 60 percent of energy versus virgin paper, and also generates 95 percent less air pollution. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water. Sadly, though, every year Americans throw away enough paper to make a 12-foot wall from New York to California. Let’s work on changing that!

#10: Computers. Computers can be recycled in a couple of ways, depending on the state of the machine. Giving old, working computers to friends and family members or donating them to nonprofit organizations not only keeps the computer entirely out of the waste stream, but it presents computer access to someone who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Non-working computers can be sent to recycling centers where they are dismantled and valuable components are recovered.

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Where To Find A Green Home In The US

If living in an environmentally friendly neighborhood is a must-have for a new home purchase, The Federal Savings Bank found that Redfin released (4/22) a list that readers may find helpful.

Using listings on the online real estate marketplace, Redfin determined which neighborhoods within 20 major metropolitan markets in the U.S. had the largest number of green homes. These properties included eco-friendly features such as low-flow faucets, solar panels, dual-pane windows and energy efficient appliances. The criteria also included environmental ratings and certification programs, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Energy Star and Built Green.

To create a fair and accurate list, the neighborhoods were ranked based on the proportion of green listings out of total listings over the past two years.

Here's the top 10:
Valley View in the Chicago metro area (39 percent)
Mueller/RMMA in Austin, Texas (39 percent)
Carpenter Village in Raleigh, North Carolina (37 percent)
Downtown Bellevue in Seattle (36 percent)
Downtown Denver (32 percent)
Downtown Woodstock in Atlanta (31 percent)
Galindo in Austin, Texas (30 percent)
Columbia City in Seattle (30 percent)
Overlook in Portland, Oregon (26 percent)
Briar Chapel in Raleigh, North Carolina (26 percent)

Owning a home with energy saving features can net owners extra cash in many ways. Of course, your monthly electrical costs will be lower, and some states offer rebates for green upgrades.

In regard to your real estate investment, having a green home with environmentally friendly features can even add to your home's value.  According to Redfin's report, green homes have a higher sale price. In fact, the median sales price for a home with energy saving features was $47,600 more than homes that lack these amenities.

In addition to increasing your home's value by having green features, living in an eco-friendly neighborhood can further increase your equity. If the majority of homes in your area have energy saving upgrades, their price gains can boost the value of the neighborhood, further improving your sale price when the appraiser looks at comparable properties.

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Green Your Yard Sale

Garage sales and yard sales are a great (and green) way to relinquish items which we once held dear and for which we had great use, but no longer need. www.GreenLivingNewsletter.com offers you these tips for hosting a green garage sale this summer:

Signs are important as they’ll inform those in your community about the date, time and location of your sale. Make your signs on repurposed paper, cardboard, or poster board—try a pizza box top, the side of an empty carton, or a brown paper bag.

Make sure you pack purchases in paper not plastic bags.

Be realistic and reasonable when setting prices—you’ll move more merchandise, find new homes for some of your most treasured items, and you’ll keep items out of the local landfill.

Remove batteries from old electronics. This will ensure that they are disposed of properly and not just discarded by the new owner.

Instead of the time-consuming task of tagging each item at your sale, create pay-one-price sections. If an item doesn’t sell at one price, you can move it to another area.

Consider involving the kids. Have them sell homemade lemonade or organic iced tea to thirsty browsers. (Serve in paper cups, not plastic or styrofoam).

Involve your neighbors! If you can get some of your neighbors to schedule a yard sale on the same day, your block can be a true destination for thrifty shoppers.


How to Cook Asparagus

The folks at Better Homes & Gardens offer great info about selecting, preparing and enjoying asparagus.  Thanks BH&G! Here in NY we’re harvesting now, so pick up a bunch of asparagus from the farmer's market or grocery store, and use this cooking guide to roast, steam, simmer, grill, or microwave the spears to perfection.

Asparagus season is considered to be spring, but you'll find this popular vegetable in markets year-round. Look for firm, bright green spears with healthy tips that are tight and not mushy. Spear size ranges from fat -- these come from older plants -- to pencil thin. Whether you like skinny or fat spears is personal preference, but for even cooking, choose spears that are uniform in size. When possible, enjoy asparagus the day you purchase it. Or wrap the bases in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to four days. You can also stand asparagus spears upright in a container filled with 1 inch of water. Cover the asparagus and the container with a plastic bag.

Tip: One pound of asparagus equals 18 to 24 spears or four servings.

Thick or Thin, each has its fans. Thin asparagus is tender with a slightly crisp center. Thick asparagus has more of a meaty center and therefore more crunch and texture. For thick asparagus spears, peel off the woody outside part--about 2 inches up from the stem end--with a vegetable peeler.

Preparing asparagus:
Because asparagus is grown in sandy soil, rinse the spears -- especially the tips -- with cold water. Snap off the woody base of each spear by bending the spear a few times to find a place where it breaks easily. This is usually around the bottom third of the spear and where the woody part starts to turn tender. If desired, scrape off the scales on the spears with a vegetable peeler. This gives the spears a smooth, clean look and is especially beneficial for tough or fat spears.

Cooking methods:
Roasting:  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place asparagus on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss lightly to coat. If desired, season with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, lightly tossing twice during roasting. If desired, season with herbs and lemon.
Steaming:  Place a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling. Add asparagus to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Simmering:  Lay the asparagus spears in a large skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Grilling:  Generously brush asparagus with olive oil or melted butter or margarine. This keeps the spears from sticking to the grill rack. Place asparagus on a piece of heavy foil or directly on a grill rack, perpendicular to the wires on the rack. For a charcoal grill, place asparagus on grill rack directly over the coals. Grill, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally. For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place asparagus on grill rack directly over heat. Grill, covered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
Microwave:  Place asparagus in a microwave-safe baking dish or casserole with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Quick Blanching:  The classic blanching method requires boiling then shocking the asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, resulting in perfectly cooked, yet cold asparagus. To make and serve warm right away without shocking, place asparagus in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with about 2 cups of boiling salted water. Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Drain; serve warm.

Lots of great recipes at www.bhg.com


Surfrider Foundation Unveils International Surfing Day Celebrating 10-Years of Stoke on June 20

On June 20, beachgoers and surf enthusiasts from around the world will come together to celebrate the Surfrider Foundation’s 10-Year Anniversary of International Surfing Day (#ISD14). The nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network, invites the public to save the date and get the day off work to join the fun!

“As we gear up to celebrate the 10-Year Anniversary of International Surfing Day, we encourage everyone to share the stoke of surfing and love for our oceans, waves and beaches,” says Laura Lee, Surfrider’s Marketing and Communications Director. “With more than 100 events already registered in 15 countries, this official surfer’s holiday provides the perfect excuse to paddle out with friends, enjoy the day and give back, no matter where you live.”

Participation in International Surfing Day is free. Many of Surfrider’s chapters host a beach cleanup or an environmental project followed by a group paddle out, surf contest, yoga session, surf film or concert. To find an event or to register for one, simply visit isd.surfrider.org.

Not near a beach or a Chapter on June 20? There are a variety of ways you can celebrate surfing and give back to our oceans, such as picking up trash, hosting an event and becoming a Surfrider Foundation member.

Founded in 2005 by Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine, International Surfing Day started with nearly 16 domestic and one international event, and has grown exponentially to 200-plus events in more than 30 countries. Since its inception, approximately 70 tons of trash has been removed from our coastal environments.

This International Surfing Day, Celebrating 10 Years of Stoke, is presented by the Surfrider Foundation, Volkswagen and ZeeBerry.com.

“Volkswagen is proud to be a presenting sponsor of International Surfing Day, which brings together a likeminded community of people with a strong commitment to the environment,” said Vinay Shahani, Vice President of Marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Surfing has always been a popular sport with Volkswagen owners and, as part of our Think Blue sustainability initiative, we’re encouraging our dealer partners and owners to participate with their local Surfrider chapters nationwide.”

Media partners include Surfing Magazine and Surfline.com. In-Kind sponsors include Billabong, Spy, Vans, Firewire, Hurley, Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Roxy, O’Neill, Ocean Minded, Emergen-C, Earthpack, RVCA, Sanuk, Swell, Volcom, Rusty, Fresh & Clean Media, On A Mission, Fox, SIMA and Arbor.

Get stoked and join Surfrider’s 10-year celebration! To obtain a complete schedule of local events, ambassadors, special membership offers and contests, visit isd.surfrider.org (Share your Instagram photos with @surfrider and #ISD14).

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains more than 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, visit http://www.surfrider.org.

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