Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Beer Summit" leaves out a green beer

Photo by Matthew Levine

It seems like everyone is chiming in with what they would like to see served at the "Beer Summit," as they are calling the upcoming informal meeting at the White House. Apparently the choices of those appearing have left out our local small brews and they have everyone second-guessing Pres. Obama'a choice of a Bud Light. Now that Bud is owned by a non-American company, apparently it is a big deal. Don't get me wrong - I got through college on cheap beer, and Barack is free to keep on drinking that stuff if he likes. A cold light beer on a hot day sure hits the spot. However, I have recently learned some info about one of my favorite "grown-up" beers that I feel makes it a much better choice.

Growing up in Texas has its perks and bordering Louisiana has them as well. Heading down to New Orleans to get some culture, me and my brother discovered a little Louisiana brewery called Abita Beer. They make such brews as the popular Amber, Purple Haze, but my absolute favorite (which just happens to be on tap at New World Brewery) is Turbo Dog. I don't know how they named it, but I like to picture some little cajun kid with a super fast three-legged dog hollerin' "Come on Turbo Dog, less git goin!" as they walk down a railroad track.

Anyway, the point of all this back story... Abita has been quietly working to make beer as green as possible and not just on St. Paddy's day! They have a beer brewing system that captures the steam and reduces the energy used by something like 70%. They also use recycled and reduced packaging sizes and supply the local farmers with leftovers from some of the grains and hops used for feed. They even built their own wastewater treatment plant where they can convert a lot of the waste to bio-gas for their own boilers and reduce the water sent to the local sewer plant by 85%. On top of all that, they added auxilliary power units to their delivery trucks which cut down on idling when the trucks are sitting still!

I'm not sure why I would drink anything else, but just try it for yourself. Maybe you'll even feel a little better about that brew in your glass. You'll not only be supporting an independent brewer, but also a rare green leader in the not-so-eco-friendly world of beer.

By the way, if you see Pres. Obama, why don't you offer him a beer, and maybe something with some flavor?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cinci Goes Green?

Photo courtesy of
(I'm so jealous of this beautiful storefront just so you know.)

Amy calls me and says, "You're not gonna believe this, but I'm standing in a green shop in Cincinnati!" Amy's from Cinci and is up there having a "girl's weekend" as I write this. Although we have seen some suppliers from the Ohio area with cool green stuff, for the most part, I would need some convincing to think Cinci had embraced "enviros." The funny thing is, we were crazy enough to start an eco-friendly store in Tampa which is know for what... cigars? So why not start one in the home of hills and chili on your spaghetti?!

If you get a chance, check out the site at Park and Vine. It looks great and if you're in the neighborhood, show 'em some love. We are already considering adding to our offerings based on her scouting trip. Mix-it-yourself cleaning products, bath and body, and kitchen supplies are just a few of the categories that we are working to flesh out. We'll keep you posted.

Here's the link---->

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Just Setting That Monitor By The Road!

So my friend at works says "Do you guys take in things to recycle?" Well, yes and no. We recycle things that we can use, so wood and metal pieces are useful to me when I'm making furniture. What isn't really desirable are things like computers and old monitors or even old cell phones. I must not be alone in feeling that way because these are rapidly becoming a ticking time-bomb in our landfills. We must consider that most of these devices contain heavy metals and batteries when dropping them in the trash or hiding them in a black bag on the curb.

From the EPA's site:

"Of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computer products ready for end-of-life (EOL) management, 18% (414,000 tons) was collected for recycling and 82% (1.84 million tons) was disposed of, primarily in landfills.

A lot of arm-twisting is leading to companies accepting back some of the electronics they sell, such as Best Buy and Dell. The other interesting development is companies that are making money from these castoffs. That same friend sent me a link to a website called that pays you based on a schedule of the type of equipment and condition.

Kind of cool, although we both agreed we can't figure out how these guys make any money because they pay for the shipping as well. So they give you a shipping label and then cut you a check. It doesn't seem like they pay much, but for an old Ipod that just keeps getting moved around the home office maybe it's worth it to get a check for $13. If it would have gotten tossed in the trash instead of in the mail, I'm sure the planet thinks it is worth it.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

2 Weeks Left for Passport to Indies Challenge

Photo courtesy of

There are two weeks left for the Passport to Indies Challenge. Make sure you don't miss this chance to rack up some gift certificates from our local independent businesses. The next time you buy your mom lunch at the Taco Bus, she won't have to know that you paid for it just by visiting places that support the local economy! Talk about a win-win! We have the Passports in our shop or you can download them from Creative Loafing. Click here ---->

Some of the basics about the benefits of buying local from our friends at Vinyl Fever:

"So, use Independents Week (month) to explore your local independent businesses and see how much of your purchasing for that week (month) you can do with them. You'll keep your money circulating in your community three times as long or more than when spent at chains, where it leaves immediately for "the home office". Studies prove that when your money is spent at a locally-owned, independent business, 45 cents of every dollar gets recirculated within the community, vs. just 13 cents from a chain store. This enriches everybody. " - from Vinyl Fever's awesome weekly email -

That's right folks, the money stays right here in the bay area. So get out and discover some of those indies that you have been resisting. Skip your regular Starbucks and go find Cafe Hey this week - we know you've been thinking about it...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What the heck is Cap and Trade anyway?

So we have this huge climate bill going through the Senate right now. I know, hopefully you all know about it, but if you don't, now's the chance to catch up on your reading. So what is this that has our esteemed Sarah Palin writing for the Washington Post? Yep, if you didn't catch that - riveting... in the ghostwriter for a lame duck governor sort of way. Anyhow, she doesn't like it. Pretty much, no republicans like it. The biggest problem people seem to have with this is that energy prices go up. And they might. There's a good chance that the utilities will start charging more for what they have to do to deal with it. Keep in mind that here in Florida, Progress Energy customers have a surcharge on their bills for a nuclear plant that isn't even starting construction yet. But besides pesky little raises like that - they always do the right thing, right?

So...We will build an artificial market with a cap on the total amount of pollution and force companies to trade credits (buy and sell) in order to keep from producing more pollution than the country should on the whole. The money generated, hopefully gets funneled toward energy projects that keep us from generating even more pollution like wind, solar, geothermal, and all that. The arguments against it really don't get into what is the most basic issue - not doing something is not an option when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. They mostly avoid it and just say something that sounds like - Don't tax us! We'll find some more cheap oil! We promise!

So anyhow, to avoid this becoming a rant, I found this video a few months ago and if you can handle this geek's rapid fire delivery, it is a pretty basic explanation of cap and trade. Hope it helps.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Composting stinks!

So we started composting this last year in hopes of doing some real gardening. We do have a small garden (six plants so far) and a pile of compost. We started composting really naively with a pile of leaves in the yard a few years ago. Then I read to mix in compost and manure mix from the garden center. That seemed to help break down the leaves. This year we found a little book called, appropriately, The Little Book of Compost. This book has recipes for compost and lots of help on how to do it right, including what should and should not be composted. Veggies good. Cooked food - not good. Coffee grounds - good. Meat scraps - not good. So at first we just dumped this stuff on the pile. Then came the ants and then the flies. Not so good. I got the feeling we were doing something wrong. Then some veteran composters at the shop suggested I get a bucket to dump the stuff in first and let it break down a little first. So now we have a plastic lidded trash can outside for the compost. We also have a small plastic bin on the counter for scraps when cooking or changing the coffee. That's when it started to stink. The key is, I think, to not let that little bin on the counter sit too long. Dump it more than once a week. We also bought some Bio Bag Composter bins we are going to try. They say it helps evaporate the water and keep the compost from getting sludgy and too wet. We have some in the shop now so if you want to join the experiment, just stop by and pick one up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recycling Green Toys

Recycling is synonymous with Tampa Street Market. If I had to explain how we ended up doing what we do now, I could probably boil it down to: we saw a truck carrying off a perfectly good _____ and decided to give it another life. Insert dresser, wood plank, or metal scrap in the blank and you'll get the idea. Furniture reincarnation is alive and well at our house. An antique dresser that is old-fashioned but solid might get a new color. Heart pine beams might become the legs to a beautiful new desk.

Anyway, we love recycling and we're not ashamed of it. So this week I came across some toys from a company called Green Toys. These are bright colored incarnations of some classic toys, such as a gardening set with little yellow pots or a cook set with multicolored plates and tea cups. They use recycled milk jugs (HDPE) to make these and go out of their way to keep them non-toxic. Heck, they're made to California standards in California! Seriously! I especially like the recycled cardboard packaging - no twist ties and no plastic bags needed. According to their website, I guess you can get these at Toys R Us or Learning Express, but I've never seen them there. I have to believe that's because those big chains are just so crowded with junk!

Come see what else is new this week and pick up your Passport to Indies. In addition to whatever Creative Loafing hands out in prizes, we've decided to give a $25 gift certificate to the TSM customer that gets the most stamps by the end of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No bike helmets for Dr. Jones

Okay so bike helmets are dorky, I get it! I hate them too. It's not like when I bike and booze (bike home from a porch party) that I want to muss my hear with one of those futuristic wind tunnel looking guys. Okay, I'll give you that it's pretty difficult to muss my hair anyway, but my buddy Brook is having no part of it. So, I'm saving up for a Yakkay! They apparently don't sell these in the U.S. yet, or I haven't found them yet. Instead of the Hannah Montana nerf ball helmet type that I usually recommend, this one is cool looking. I submit exhibit A - see photo --->
So I'm still working on cool one's we can afford. These go for $150 bucks or more. Considering that less than half of us wear a helmet, I say there is plenty of work to do to get these looking cool. If you want to see the tweed one that Dr. Jones would wear, you'll have to go to the website. These are basically a base helmet with fitted covers. Good for cold weather, I'm guessing. Keep in mind though, you only get one brain and it doesn't heal itself very well. If you're biking in the hood, well, you've seen how people drive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Independents Week Starts Today!

And you're saying to yourself a) What the heck is independents week and why haven't I heard of it? or hopefully b) How can I help?

First I'll start with "A" for some backstory... Independent businesses caught on that they were being edged out about the time it was too late. Right after I walked out of Wal-mart and wondered, what used to be here? Wasn't there an office supply store and a bike shop and a garden supply in my town? The businesses that weren't obliterated in the first few years and those crazy enough to start new one's like us, started getting together. Independent Business Associations started to crop up with one of the most popular coming out of Austin, Texas. Anybody heard of "Keep Austin Weird"? That's the kind of slogan that Target and Best Buy just can't help with. So anyway, to get the word out, these business groups needed a rallying week and when better than the heat of summer? July 4th - Independents Day was born! Unless we want chain stores from sea to shining sea then we'd better get out and support these guys!

So then question B) How can I help?

TIBA - The Tampa Independent Business Association is running a promotion with the help of Creative Loafing that involves getting stamps on a "passport" this month. If you get the most, then you are entered in a drawing for $500 in gift certificates. One of those will be from Tampa Street Market, so make sure you get this done! Find the "Passport to Indies" in this issue of Creative Loafing.

If that is a little too much structure for your independent self, then just get out and support your favorite indies! Eat at Nicko's, Cappy's, Bungalow Bistro, Taconazo, and Grassroots. Get down to Vinyl Fever and buy Wilco's new album. Head over to Inkwood Books and get an autograph from Carl Hiaasen. Get over to the Old Tampa Book Company and pick out a classic. Get out to Skipper's Smokehouse and catch a band and some fish dip. Or try to do three - at the same time - go to New World Brewery, drink an indie brew, and listen to a local band - all in one night! This is what makes a town worth living in folks! Remember the hardware store that burned down in the Heights last year? Those are the places that make a neighborhood...

Here's the link to get your passport - Don't wait, my little brother started on Saturday!