Sunday, August 29, 2010

z pizza: more than your average pizza place

I love pizza. It is one of my favorite foods... ever.

Sadly, since I decided to stop eating cheese I haven't had pizza. Yes, I could order a pizza without cheese but what's the fun in that? Not many places offer pizza with a vegan alternative for the cheese. Plus, my limited experience with vegan cheeses (rice and soy) has not been the most enjoyable. I was hesitant to try it again. But oh my goodness I have been wanting a slice of yummy, cheesy pizza for months. Okay, not just a slice, a whole pizza to myself. Did I mention I love pizza?

On our way to another restaurant for lunch, my mom and I passed a zpizza. Immediately, I got excited and asked if we could go there instead. My mom, being the nice lady she is, said yes and turned around. I went straight to the counter and ordered the Berkeley Vegan. It is a delicious combination of vegan cheese, marinara sauce, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, red onion, and bell pepper (nom nom nom nom).

Not feelin' the Berkeley Vegan? No worries. You can create your own pizza. They offer two animal friendly cheeses: one made from soy and one that is soy and gluten free. You can pick however many veggies you want, including the veggie burger crumbles. Can't live without your serving of meat? There are a multitude of choices for you as well. Not only are they accommodating to vegans, they offer a variety of gluten free options.

AND they care about the environment! Not only are the majority of their ingredients organic, the meats are MSG and nitrate free. The beef is from grass-fed cows and the chicken is all natural. If you're going to eat meat, this is definitely the way to go. zpizza uses recycable and compostable containers. The pizza boxes are reusable (something for frequent customers to remember). To help reduce their carbon monoxide emissions, they use an eco-friendly bike delivery system.

Needless to say, I was impressed. Oh, and they have free Wi-Fi. I may be eating lots of pizza this semester. If pizza doesn't float your boat, they have salads and sandwiches as well.

Check out zpizza's food section to see all they have to offer. What do you want to try? I think I will experiment with making my own next time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The eco-friendly hot spot!

I am a Phoenician through and through. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. My home city is, sadly, not the most environmentally friendly city. Phoenix could definitely stand to learn a thing or two from our neighbor to the north, Flagstaff, Arizona. I am proud to say that Phoenix has been making steps towards becoming more green.

Salt River Project (SRP) has been providing electrical power and water services to central Arizona since 1903. It is the third largest public power utility in the U.S. and the largest water supplier in Arizona. I had only a vague idea of what SRP really was until very recently. Two friends and I were on an entirely too long of a run, dying of thirst, and came across Arizona Falls, a SRP hydroelectric plant that conveniently has a drinking fountain. Although it had a funky smell, the place intrigued me. Here is what I have discovered...

The Salt River Valley Canal was constructed in the 1800s to deliver water to farm land from the Salt River. There is a 20 foot drop at a point (what is now between 56th St. and 58th St. and Indian School Rd.) that creates a waterfall. SRP built the first Phoenix hydroelectric plant at this location and named it Arizona Falls. Apparently, it became the cool spot to hang out since it was cooler by the water and who doesn't love a waterfall?

Original Arizona Falls:

Since its debut, it has been shut down and forgotten. Thank goodness SRP started their Earthwise Energy program* and thought to reopen it and spruce it up a bit while preserving some of its history (I love history)! You must love it (or at least like it) or you would have quit reading this post awhile ago.

Arizona Falls, as we know it today, combines art, history, and technology to provide us with a sustainable source of energy. According to SRP, it generates 50 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity, which can power up to 150 homes. Dang! As far as art and history go, there are three waterfalls that allow you to see the antique gears through the flowing water. Because it's Phoenix, and it's hot, there is a shaded viewing area. Solar panels on the roof power ceiling fans to help keep you cool. If you suddenly feel the urge to break out in a dance, feel free to find your way to the dance floor! I'm not sure where the music is supposed to come from so I suggest dancing to the beat of your own drum or bring your own music player.

New Arizona Falls:

So is Arizona Falls going to be a hot spot of Phoenix? Perhaps... if they actually have a party like the one shown in the picture. It definitely comes in handy when you go for a run along the canal though!

So, my fellow Phoenicians, are you going to check out Arizona Falls?

My out-of-town readers, do you have anything like this where you live? How green is your city?

*To find out more about SRP and the Earthwise Energy program click here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

BYOC - Bring Your Own Cup

Where my coffee drinkers at?? Although I go through phases of drinking way too much coffee to not drinking any, it is safe to say that on average, I drink my fair share of it. Being on the go constantly, I tend to buy cups of coffee at wherever is convenient at the time. Awhile ago, I realized my car was what appeared to be the final resting place for paper coffee cups; a sad sight to see indeed. I recycled all of them so that they could be reincarnated into something great but still was not at ease. To fix this, I started making my own coffee and taking it to go in my own travel mug. Of course, I would run out and go on a hunt for some more. Typically, this would occur when I would be neck deep in textbooks, doing homework or studying at a... wait fot it... coffee shop (I can't help it that coffee and free Wi Fi go together so wonderfully). I continued to use the cups they provided and continued to be shamefully aware of my growing carbon footprint. Well, one day I had my travel mug with me and asked if they could just refill my cup, please and thank you. Guess what... they were happy to! Not only were they happy to use my cup, they even gave me a discount! Since that life changing day, I have encountered some weird looks when making the request and discovered not all places give discounts. In the end, you know the positive effects of a reusable cup and are being kind to the Earth.

Reusable mugs can be found for great prices at places such as Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx. Like with reusable water bottles, avoid cups with BPA. See my blog "Three Ways to go Green" for more about that. Many coffee shops sell cups with their logo but do not feel like you have to use theirs.

Award for best discount goes to...

Paradise Bakery: $0.80 + tax for unlimited refills of your chosen beverage (coffee, tea, or soda). You save about $2.00. Did I mention the unlimited refills?

Award for most eco-friendly goes to...
Starbucks has been working hard at becoming more environmentally friendly. When using your own cup, you will save $0.10 on any drink. In fact, their goal is to serve 25% of their drinks in reusable cups by 2015! Don't have your own? You can request your drink to be served in a ceramic cup if you intend to drink it in the store and still get the discount!

I hope to branch out and try some new places. I will let ya'll know if I find a great deal. I encourage you to go explore the coffee shops in your area. Don't be afraid to ask about discounts for using your own cup and about their recycling practices.

What are your experiences with bringing your own cup to coffee shops? Any great places we should go check out?