Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Green Vodka?

So, we have all noticed the shift in advertising from the over-the-top opulent to the Gen Y "green" and natural. Green is the new bling. Overall, I see this transition as fairly benign, perhaps even beneficial. Overtime I find that I more and more identify myself as an evironmentalist insomuch as I am concerned about the continued health of our environment, our planet. But I do find myself somewhat bemused by the dazzling array of (presumably) "green" products that have appeared in the marketplace. What does it mean to be "green" or environmental or ecological? Have these terms lost some of their meaning and impact with their increasing ambious use?

My dear husband recently returned from costco with a find that he was rather proud of - "green" vodka. Vodka? Why, yes... now your booze can be "green" too. The brand is 360 Vodka with the byline of "the world's first eco luxury vodka." The packaging and production are touted as ecologically friendly. True, the labeling utilizes the familiar rough brown and pleasing dark green ink we have come to identify will all things environmentally friendly. Somehow, that is not what my husband noticed when he picked it up. Instead he was attracted by the fact the vodka is produced locally in Weston, Missouri at a division of McCormick's.

Beyond first look, 360 Vodka promotes several positive environmental impacts (according to

  • 85% recycled glass bottle (70% post-consumer waste)

  • 100% recycled paper used for labeling and marketing

  • Shipping materials made of 100% recycled material

  • Water based inks used for all printed material

  • "Close the Loop" program for returning/recycling bottle closures to the distillery

  • Locally grown grain reduces fossil fuels used for transport

  • The distillery has it's own water treatment plant

  • Carbon dioxide reclamation process that prevents the gas from escaping into the atmosphere

  • Sulfur dioxide emissions reduced 99.7% and polluting dust particles reduced 50% in entire distillation process in comparison with traditional distilling

Most interesting is the Close the Loop program to reuse the bottle stoppers. Included in the packaging now is a postage-paid envelope to return the stopper to the distillery.

So, how does it taste you ask? Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I am not a connoisseur of premium vodkas. For more complete reviews, click here and for a video review click here. Maybe this Earth Day you will imbibe the 360 in a Greentini or in Planetary Punch. In any case, I hope you consider the efffects of green marketing in your consumer choices. More broadly (and more importantly) consider whether or not the eco-revival of sorts that we are experiencing is truly the "critical mass" shift in our collective western conciousness or the result of calculated, profit motivated marketing... marketing that may fail when the trend has run its course. Is green vodka here to stay?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Albert Einstein

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Not So Fast...

After returning from our trip to the Farm, I surveyed the sad state of our lawn. Years of splitting my time between pursing my master's degree and run-a-way toddlers, our lawn has been all but neglected. I've never been much for lawn care per se but it is looking rather thin. My Little Rose and I decided to rake up some of the thatch and overseed with a hardy grass seed. Afterwards we wandered the yard looking for "bugs and blooms."

"Little Rose"

The forsythia, or golden bell, is one of my early spring favorites. It sits on the edge of our property, probably more so in the neighbors yard. Little Rose and I convinced the neighbor in question to allow us to care for the forsythia, saving it from it's usual severe trimming. We have allowed it to shape naturally and have carefully chosen a couple older branches to prune out. In a couple years, it should be returned to its full glory. Forsythia bloom on old growth wood so wait to prune until after the plant has finishing its take to pruning. Each year survey the plant and prune back approxiamately one fourth of the oldest stems to withing four inches of the ground.

Forsythia branches can also be cut and forced to open indoors in vase. Choose a branch near the top of the plant with closely spaced buds. Cut the entire branch, trim away buds that will be submerged, re-cut branch on the slant, and immediately place in a vase of cool water. In a day or so, re-cut again on the slant and palce in warm water and in a sunny place in your home. The beautiful yellow blosooms will appear - hope that Spring is on its way. The cut branches may even root, allowing you to plant the trimmed branch.

This year, a Spring snow storm attempted to steal away the golden flowers alreadying blooming. A very heavy, wet snow blanketed the area just a week after the first photos were taken. I thought the forsythia was just as beautiful laced in ice and snow. As much as I have anticipated Spring and the coming warmth and sun of summer, mother nature reminds me who is really in charge and blows a last cool breath of winter wind.