Summer Hydration—Yes You CAN!

Summer is the ultimate season for hydration, and Steaz, the nation’s bestselling organic and fair trade iced green tea company has a line-up of delicious, guilt-free beverages to help you quench your thirst this summer.

Iced Green Tea - Steaz’s core product line features a wide variety of flavors, from grapefruit honey to lime pomegranate, each packed with the natural antioxidants and benefits of organic, fair trade green tea. The line also offers lightly sweetened (with organic, all-natural cane sugar); zero calorie (sweetened with natural stevia); and unsweetened options. 

There’s a new wave in hydration and it not only tastes great but it’s packed with natural electrolytes, antioxidants, reduces inflammation and has other great health benefits of the cactus.  Prickly Pear Water - According to Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Peggy Kotsopoulos, “prickly pear provides effective and efficient hydration, as it is rich in electrolytes…the best way to hydrate at the cellular level.” Steaz’s Prickly Pear Water is both flavorful and functional- available in three varieties:  Prickly Pear Water with Green Tea, Prickly Pear Water with Cucumber and Green Tea, and Prickly Pear Water with Starfruit and Green Tea.

For anyone seeking a beverage that offers an energy boost, Steaz’s Organic Energy drink line packs a punch without artificial additives. The 100% plant-based, natural energy drink line offers original and zero calorie varieties in flavors like Superfruit (Organic green tea blended with guarana berries, rainforest-grown yerba mate and super fruits like goji, blueberry and açai) and Berry (organic green tea blended with guarana berries, rainforest-grown yerba mate and ripe berry flavor). 

From prickly pear water to the organic energy drinks, the entire Steaz line-up is made with certified organic and fair trade green tea, helping boost the health benefits within by making drinks that taste good and are good for you.


RECYCLING PLASTICS IS AS EASY AS...1, 2, 3, (4, 5, 6, 7)

If you recycle you’ve probably turned over a plastic container to read the number on the bottom, the one surrounded by the little recycling symbol  known to many as the “chasing arrow”.  Many recycling programs depend on these numbers to tell you which plastics you can and can’t recycle.  The symbol codes we are all familiar with were designed by The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988 to allow recyclers to differentiate different types of plastics and to provide a uniform convention that manufacturers could implement nationwide.  Since recyclers target post-consumer plastics, the SPI code is most commonly found on household packaging materials. The numbers shown inside the chasing arrows refer to different types of plastics used in making plastic products and containers.

Presently, SPI is working to improve the numbering system to make it easier for you to know what to recycle.  But what do all these numbers mean???

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)
PET is used in the production of soft drink bottles, peanut butter jars...
PET can be recycled into fiberfill for sleeping bags, carpet fibers, rope, pillows...

HDPE (High density polyethylene)
HDPE is found in milk jugs, butter tubs, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles...
HDPE can be recycled into flower pots, trash cans, traffic barrier cones, detergent bottles...

V (Polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is used in shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, fast food service items...
PVC can be recycled into drainage and irrigation pipes...

LDPE (Low density polyethylene)
LDPE is found in grocery bags, bread bags, shrink wrap, margarine tub tops...
LDPE can be recycled into new grocery bags…

PP (Polypropylene)
PP is used in most yogurt containers, straws, pancake syrup bottles, bottle caps....
PP can be recycled into plastic lumber, car battery cases, manhole steps...

PS (Polystyrene)
PS is found in disposable hot cups, packaging materials (peanuts), and meat trays...
PS can be recycled into plastic lumber, cassette tape boxes, flower pots...

This is usually a mixture of various plastics, like squeeze ketchup bottles, "microwaveable" dishes...
Other (number 7) is usually not recycled because it is a mixture of different types of plastics


Please be sure to recycle only those plastics collected in your recycling program!
Source:  NYS Department of Environmental Conservation


Reverse Vending

If you’ve ever been to the supermarket and put your soda cans in the machine to get a refund on your previously paid deposit, you were “reverse vending”.  New survey findings reveal fascinating insights about consumer attitudes toward recycling.  TOMRA, a leading manufacturer of reverse vending solutions for collecting, reusing and recycling used cans and bottles, has released findings from its first Recycling Trends and Insights Survey, conducted by Qualtrics. The survey of 1,200 people in six states that have bottle bills was commissioned to determine how, what and where people recycle as well as their concerns about environmental issues.

The survey revealed that the number-one material to recycle is used beverage containers (recycled by 17% of respondents) followed by plastics (16%), cardboard (15%), glass (15%) then paper (14%). Other key findings revealed that 62 percent of the time respondents redeemed their beverage containers for a deposit.

The survey also explored respondents’ understanding of container deposit systems as well as their concerns about environmental issues. Below are those key findings:
High deposit knowledge, but wishful recycling

  • The survey found that there was a near-even split on where consumers redeem their containers, between reverse vending machines/bottle redemption centers and home/curbside pick-up. 53 percent of respondents redeem their bottles and cans to reverse vending machines.
  • 89.5 percent believe all items collected by reverse vending machines are recycled compared to 73.2 percent of respondents who believe all items collected by curbside recycling are recycled. In reality, 100 percent of containers redeemed at reverse vending machines are recycled into new packaging compared to approximately 50 percent of the containers collected through single-stream curbside.
  • In states where there are deposit programs, 86 percent of respondents were aware that their state had a container deposit program, with 14 percent of respondents unsure if their state had a container deposit program.

Making a difference, not making money, is key driver

  • 23.7 percent say they recycle because it’s good for the planet, 23.3 percent recycle because it’s the right thing to do, 19.5 percent recycle because it makes them feel good and 19 percent do so to redeem their deposit. 
  • The top three environmental issues that concern consumers today are air quality (19.4%), climate change (19.1%) and litter (12.4%)
  • When it comes to addressing environmental issues, 60 percent of respondents do not believe that world leaders are doing enough and 62 percent do not believe national leaders are doing enough.
  • 69 percent of respondents feel that environmental issues affect them personally, but only 48 percent consider themselves to be environmentalists.
  • The majority of respondents believe they recycle enough, but the main reason for not recycling “as much as I should” was forgetfulness (32%), far ahead of being unaware of what items can and can’t be recycled (21%), and the inconvenience of recycling (16%). Only 0.02 percent of respondents said they don’t care about recycling.

“These survey findings are helpful to TOMRA as we consider ways to share with consumers the many benefits of clean deposit-return recycling,” said Chuck Riegle, SVP Government Affairs, TOMRA Systems ASA.  “Consumers are sharing with us that they believe recycling serves greater social purposes, and the incentives to redeem containers are a successful motivator.” 


4 Foods That'll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps

You recycle your bottles and newspapers, you upcycle thrift store finds into decor treasures, and you reuse all your plastic bags. But do you upcycle your food scraps?  We’re not talking compost here, we’re talking re-growing food from scraps you might have tossed.  Turns out, several odds and ends you might have tossed can be re-grown into more food!  Here’s a great list compiled by the folks at Organic Authority.

When your recipe only calls for the green part of the scallions, don’t toss the white end with the roots. Stick it in a glass jar with a little water and the greens will grow back. You can just snip off what you need as you go. This also works with leeks.

This delicious, aromatic herb is really just a grass and will grow well in a pot in a sunny spot. Take the root ends (after you’ve used the rest in a recipe) and put in a jar of water in a sunny spot. After a week or so, you’ll start to see roots appearing. Once the roots look healthy, transplant your lemongrass to a pot and let it grow. You can start harvesting when the stalks get to be a foot or more tall.

The next time you’re chopping a bunch of celery, save the root end! Place itin a shallow bowl of water, and after a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. As soon as you see these, you can plant the celery—leaving the leaves just above the soil.  The plant will continue to grow, and soon you’ll have a whole new head of celery!

Did you know that ginger makes a beautiful (and useful) houseplant? If you’ve got a piece of fresh ginger going spare in your fridge, you can plant it in potting soil. Ginger is a root, and before long, you’ll notice a lovely plant sprouting from it. Once the plant is big enough, you can actually pull it up, whack off a piece of the root, and replant it whenever you need fresh ginger—or just enjoy your culinary houseplant.

Organic Authority is a trusted ally and the web‘s leading resource for all things… delicious and organic! Come chill in their kitchen as they test-drive tried-and-true mouthwatering recipes and chat about the organic lifestyle. From the most mojo-rific of foods, juicy of spirits to your eco chic entertaining table, energetic health and the most scrumptiously delicious beauty, they’ve made it their job and passion to cover organics from the inside out, the outside in and all the way around. At OrganicAuthority you‘ll discover how to grow your first apartment herb garden, how to host a summer BBQ your friends will rave about for seasons to come, which natural deodorants actually work, and so much more.


Sabra's Plants with a Purpose to support Virginia State University Projects

As an extension of its Plants with a Purpose program, Sabra Dipping Company, LLC (Sabra) will partner with Virginia State University (VSU) to assist in the development of an educational urban garden at Summerseat.  The Summerseat Urban Garden Project will transform a 2.2-acre historic land parcel into a food and agricultural hub designed to address food security issues within local schools and communities, enhance nutrition and food education, and bring people together.

Sabra's Plants with a Purpose initiative was launched as a pilot in late 2016 to address the needs of communities living in food deserts.  Richmond, VA has been called the largest "food desert" in America.  "We believe everyone should have ready and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables," said Eugenio Perrier, Sabra's Chief Marketing Officer. "The most meaningful way to create change is through hands-on, community driven collaboration. Through Plants with a Purpose, we aim to bolster the efforts of local partners who are literally planting seeds for the future. The Summerseat community garden will bring together neighbors of all ages to create fresh connections and draw sustenance from the ground."

"Four years after publishing the ground-breaking study, 'Food Deserts in Virginia,' VSU continues its commitment to raise awareness of the commonwealth's food security issues and to identify ways to provide fresh, affordable food to all residents," said Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, the former Executive Director of VSU's Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement and Outreach. "We are grateful that Sabra Dipping Company shares a similar commitment, and we're confident that together we will be able to create a recreational, historical and productive green space at Summerseat that will provide maximum benefits to the public."

In addition to the Summerseat collaboration, Sabra is providing tuition assistance for students of VSU's Urban Agriculture Certification Course, which aims to increase competence and marketability for a career in urban agriculture. Students will have an opportunity to apply their skills in Sabra's 340 square foot employee workshare garden installed on the Sabra campus in Colonial Heights. 

"This collaboration with VSU's Summerseat Urban Garden Project enables us to build on our efforts to enhance access of fresh foods in communities where we work and live," said Chandler Gotschlich, Sabra's Associate Director Marketing Global Brands and Plants with a Purpose team lead.  "VSU has been instrumental in bringing awareness to the needs of the local community and creating public private partnerships to help fill in the gaps. We are thrilled to be involved in these efforts and look forward to playing a long-term role."

Last year VSU received from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe the inaugural Outstanding State Stewardship Award for its preservation of Summerseat, an historic house built around 1860 near present-day VSU. A one-room house with modest Italianate detailing and a raised brick basement, Summerseat is among the last remaining dwellings of Ettrick, a small African-American community established along the Appomattox River in the mid-19th century. Its name is derived from local lore, which says that the structure previously served as a county judge's courtroom during the summer months. Both Summerseat and Ettrick are eligible for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

"Food deserts," as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), are neighborhoods and towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food (specifically fruits and vegetables). It is estimated more than 23 million Americans live in impacted areas.  At least 17 percent of Virginia's population is affected by limited food access or food deserts. 

Sabra proudly dedicates time, energy and resources to the communities in which it operates and in 2016 introduced Plants with a Purpose, an initiative aimed at reducing the impact of food deserts through improved education and access to fresh produce in underserved neighborhoods. Sabra, headquartered in NY, has gained recognition for its commitment to the environment. Sabra's state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County, VA has earned Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program. Sabra is a joint venture between PepsiCo and Strauss Group that sells dips and spreads in North America.

Find Sabra at


9 Tips for Zero Waste Entertaining this Summer

Summer is the season for outdoor entertaining. Unfortunately, this can result in excessive amounts of waste, as many hosts set out piles of Styrofoam plates, plastic cutlery, and plastic cups in order to reduce the amount of cleanup and broken glasses in the backyard. It might be convenient and easy to entertain in this way, but it’s unsustainable.

Consider the following zero-waste options when planning your next party. It does take more effort to use reusable items – you have to wash and store them till next time – but there won’t be a plastic garbage bag full of trash at the end of the night, which is a pretty great feeling. Reusable items add a touch of class and decoration to a party, making it more memorable for your guests. Here are some ideas:

1. Use a cloth tablecloth or placemats instead of a plastic table cover.
There’s something about a tablecloth that makes any dinner look stylish and beautiful. Wash, hang dry, and iron soon after use, and it will last for many years. For something even simpler, try colourful placements made of natural fibres.
Ten Thousand Villages sells gorgeous fair-trade tablecloths and placemats.

2. Reusable plates are a necessity.
Buy a second set of cheap ceramic plates at a thrift store that you won’t worry about breaking, or pick up a set of enamel tin picnic dishes. If you’re really stressed about having to wash all those dishes, check out VerTerra’s compostable plates made of pressed leaves and water.

If you have a large crowd to feed, consider renting plates from a local church or community center. Some places might even take the dishes back dirty, for a fee. You could set up an outdoor washing station where guests wash their own plate, which makes a huge difference in the amount of cleanup, or ask guests to bring their own reusable dishes.

3. Use cloth napkins, which add decorative accents to a table.
It does mean extra laundry, but these will last for years. Plus, they’re much more absorbent and generally useful than grabbing a handful of paper napkins to wipe up a mess. Buy them anywhere (it’s best to stick with 100% cotton, which is most durable), or repurpose old fabric to make your own. Etsy has some attractive handmade options.

4. Ditch the disposable straws and try some reusable ones.
Did you know that 500 million plastic straws are tossed daily in the U.S.? Here's a much better option. Simply Straws makes these cool straws with borosilicate glass, which is tough and resistant to thermal stress, making them great for cold and hot beverages. They come in 3 sizes, and you have the option of bent or straight. The company guarantees 100% satisfaction and will replace broken ones.

5. Serve iced juice or water in a large communal dispenser.
Not only is it practical and elegant, but it also eliminates the need for a cooler full of dripping wet plastic water bottles or soda cans.

6. Serve drinks in small glass canning jars, which adds a rustic touch.
Write guests’ names on the side in permanent marker, or tie a ribbon around to differentiate. If you want to invest in something permanent, go with non-breakable stainless steel. You can get pint cups from Klean Kanteen, and stemmed wine glasses from Eco-Friendly Cookware.

7. Provide reusable cutlery.
Not only is it eco-friendly, it also much more pleasant to eat with sturdy cutlery; cutting food on a Styrofoam plate with a flimsy plastic knife is very frustrating. Visit the thrift store for an extra set, if you’re don’t want to use your own. Another option is to buy wooden or bamboo sets of cutlery, which are great for travelling and camping. Verterra also sells compostable wooden cutlery that supposedly breaks down in two months.

8. Buy alcoholic beverages from local wineries and brewers.
Some wineries offer wine-on-tap and let you fill your own bottles, which is an excellent zero waste option. Use old wine bottles or buy some of these pretty glass bottles with ceramic lids. If not, be sure to return empties for a refund and reuse.

9. Metal skewers are useful and versatile.
Use long ones for grilling vegetables and meat. You won’t have to soak them ahead of time or deal with splinters in your food. Use little metal skewers instead of toothpicks to serve finger foods; wash and reuse.