Monday, December 31, 2012

Tips for a Sustainable New Years Party!

2013 is nearly upon us, and with it, a slew of parties and get togethers to celebrate the new year! If you're hosting a party this year, there isn't any better way to ring in the new year than by being green with your party! These tips are sure to help you have a fun and eco-friendly get together!

1) E-Vites: Rather than sending out traditional invitations, which waste paper, envelopes, and stamps, why not go the easy route and either send out evites or just invite your guests over the phone? This will save you a little bit of money and just think of that paper waste you've avoided!

2) Look for Locally Grown: For food and drinks, there isn't anything better than locally grown. You know it's fresh and there's a lot less emission waste associated with buying local. It even has the added plus of supporting your local community!

3) Use your own dishes: While washing up afterwards may seem like a pain, most of us have dishwashers these days and removing all those plastic/paper/styrafoam plates will make a huge impact!

4) Decorate Responsibly: Let's face it, your house is probably still decked out for the holidays, and getting a bunch of "2013" banners and hats that will just end up in the garbage the next day isn't exactly good for the earth or for your bank account! Skip out, or make your own upcycled decorations!

5) Don't forget your resolution: Making a green resolution is a great way to promise yourself that the change will stick. Whether it's simply to remember to recycle more, starting your own compost heap, or just switching to all LED bulbs in your house, these little promises can make a difference in the long run!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Photo Friday

Hope all of you had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday week! We managed to snap this week's photo outside of our office the day after Christmas, when it was pretty chilly outside!

Did you catch a great shot this week? Be sure to share it in the comments!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 5 posts of 2012

Hopefully you're all getting ready to enjoy 2013! We are excited for the new year, but we're also looking back at the one that has past. At the end of May, 2012 we started seriously blogging, and so we wanted to take this post to look back at our top 5 posts of 2012(based on post views)! Here's to hoping we have plenty of popular posts to pick from in 2013!

This post looked into the amazing and interesting world of vertical gardens! When looking back, it isn't hard to believe this post is popular. It's inspiring, especially to our readers who might live in more urban areas and can't plant a huge backyard garden.


This photo friday is simply of a flower near Iowa City. It's beautiful and simple, and captures an Iowa summer. 

This post was a collection of DIY projects that focused on upcycling old t-shirts! Fun and easy, these DIYs got a lot of traffic and it's easy to see why looking back.

This article was another sustainability article that got a lot of traction! It's definitely a good read, and proves that even the young generation is concerned about sustainability.

This story occurred in Iowa, and it's inspiring to see a young woman take such and ardent intrest in reducing her school's waste stream! If you haven't checked out Lilly's story we'd definitely recommend taking a second to read it now.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Featured Article: Hy-Vee and GreenRU Partner to Keep Organic Waste out of Landfills

Organics recycling is a huge service, but it is one that is fairly new on a commercial scale in the midwest. GreenRU is one company that is working to provide that service in Iowa for Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Hospitals, Schools & Universities, and many other locations. The company has been doing work with a few Hy-Vee locations as well. Hy-Vee is a well known grocery story in the midwest, so it is encouraging to see some of their stores picking up this program. 

This article summarizes some of the work the two have done together, and talks about why the grocery stores using GreenRU decided to transition into organics recycling. It's a great little story, it takes about as much time to read as this blog, and we think you should definitely check it out! 

Read the article here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Photo Friday

This week the weather has started acting like it normally does during Iowa winters. This photo was snapped during the light flurries we got on Monday this week. We thought it looked pretty with just the trees covered in white! 

Did you snap any great photos this week? Upload them into the comments section!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recycled Wrapping Paper Crafts

Everybody goes through much more waste this month than the rest of the year, mostly due to the waste created by gift wrapping. However, it seems a shame to throw all of that pretty paper into a landfill. After the presents have been ripped open, these crafts will help you give new life to all that barely used paper!

Wrapping Paper Basket DIY
 This fun basket is great for craft supplies and little nic nacs. It's easy enough that your children can help you with it, and it is a fun way to store a few of the new gifts they unwrapped!
Wrapping Paper Bookmark DIY

These bookmarks are a great future gift for any book lover in your family, or to mark your spot in your new book that your received as a gift! 

Frame From Rolled Paper DIY
 This tutorial is actually for newspaper, but we think it could be even more beautiful with wrapping paper! It's a great little frame that could be used as a gift in the future, or used to decorate your house!
Book Covers DIY
If you ever had to make a book cover in grade school, you already know how to do this craft! Use your wrapping paper to protect your books and make them stylish!  

Soap Cozy DIY
Imagine how great this could look with bright, shimmery holiday wrapping? We like this to spruce up any soap container!

Card DIY
 For fun and festive cards you can't really beat these. Plus it adds a nice homemade touch to all of your cards.

Wrapping Paper Star DIY
These lovely wrapping paper stars would make a great ornament for parties year round (as long as it doesn't have any season specific images)!
Office Supply Cans
 Spruce up some tin cans and make these beautiful and chic office supply cans!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Green Gift Wrapping Ideas

During the holidays it is easy to excuse that ever growing pile of barely used, discarded paper because we use it to wrap presents. However, most of this paper isn't recyclable and is heading straight to the landfill every year. Instead of filling a landfill, why not try one of these green gift wrapping ideas?

Brown Paper Packages tied up with string
There is something classic about presents wrapped this way. They're simple, but still nice looking. Using a heavy stock brown paper can be a great choice if you have some careful gift un-wrappers. You could re-use this paper for shipping items, but for the holidays they can be used to make pretty parcels for under the tree. You could also reuse old paper shopping bags to wrap with brown paper. This paper is also recyclable, so you don't have to send it to a landfill once the gifts are unwrapped!  If you like the gift tags on these check them out here. They're free to download! 

Use What's in Your Recycling Bin
Old newspaper can make some surprisingly elegant wrapping! It reuses something that you can recycle, and it curls like ribbon, so it can be just as festive! This picture tutorial explains the method pretty well. 

Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags make great gift bags- it's a present in itself! Another great idea might be a purse. These can be tied simply with a ribbon and they look festive and bright, but don't end up getting tossed out the next day. 

Recycled Wrapping Paper
There are many vendors who now offer 100% Recycled paper with a minimum of 50% post consumer waste. These papers are already recycled and you can find them in a variety of styles, thickness, and colors. The top vendors we've found include Fish Lips, Botanical Paperworks(which offers seed paper, so your giftee can plan the paper later) and Of The Earth.

An Old Sweater
You know your friend who's a bit of a wine collector? Well, now you have a sustainable method for their gift! Sections of an old sweater can be great gift wrapping. The sleeves work especially well for bottles, check out this easy tutorial to make the wrap pictured above here

These are our favorite green wrapping ideas, do you have some other ideas? Be sure to share them in the comments! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Photo Friday

This week we had our grinder up at our Headquarters, and we snapped a couple of pictures of it doing its thing! Check it out!

Did you snap any great pictures this week? Be sure to share them here in the comments!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Featured Article: H&M Launches First Global Clothing Collection Recycling Program

Innovation in the fashion industry isn't new, but H&M are taking that call for innovation to a sustainable place with their new program. Soon you will be able to take used clothing to H&M stores for recycling. H&M will be the first company to start a worldwide program like this one. H&M already works to use organic cotton, does not discharge hazardous chemicals, and saves water.

This program is interesting purely because it is the first one to be implemented in the United States and worldwide. The company is partnering with I:Collect in this effort, however we could not find a website for them to determine what exactly they will be doing with the collected clothing to recycle it. H&M's website lists re-wearing, reuse and recycling as potential end results for the collected garments.

We're trying to decide how sustainable this program will be. The company could have a large impact, however they're also giving the people donating a coupon, to give them incentive. This is nice, but, as the article pointed out, won't that just add another article of clothing to the waste stream? We like to think if you donate once you will donate again, so this might not be a huge concern, however, it is definitely one to look into.

What do you think? Does this program sound like it could make a real change? Would you take your clothes there, and shop at H&M more because they offer this recycling program? Let us know in the comments!

Check out the full article here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homemade Gift Ideas

This month is a big one for gifts. If you're trying to be green or just avoid the stores, homemade gifts can be a good and heartfelt option for gifts. If you're stumped on what to make for a homemade gift, check out some of our favorites!

Cork Trivet DIY
 Maybe you have someone on your list who's a total foodie, or maybe just someone who has their own kitchen for the first time. Either way, one easy and useful gift is this trivet. It works well for your hot pots and pans, and it has a fun and almost rustic charm.

Clay Pot Snowmen DIY
We love these adorable little snowmen that can be used to decorate your home throughout the winter season. We aslo think it'd be easy to make these guys a little bigger- using a bigger pot, ball and sock, to make a fun winter lawn or entryway ornament.

Cute Coaters DIY
 These fun coasters make great gifts for everyone because you use scrapbook paper to make the tiles, so you can personalize it to anyone you know!

Pantone Chip Magnets DIY
 This gift is great for the designer or artist you know, and it's a fun and easy little craft that looks so nice that it could have been bought from a store!

Teacup Lights DIY
 These fun little candles are a great way to use old cups that have darling details but might not match your dish ware.

Knit Cowl DIY
 As the weather turns chilly it is always good to remember that cowls and scarfs make great holiday gifts! This cowl looks like it would keep you cozy and warm even on the coldest of days.

Fabric Key Chain DIY
Reuse scrap fabric and make cute little gifts. This is great because it will definitely make the keys stand out, and can be very personal for your giftee!

Garden Path Stepping Stones DIY
Perfect for the gardener in your life, these stones will brighten up any garden! This tutorial is pretty basic, so you can personalize as much as you'd like!

Candy Plant DIY
 Gifting candy can seem almost too easy, but not with this craft! While the craft is easy for you, it shows the effort behind the simple idea. Fun way to gift food during the holidays and year round!

Bath Salt DIY
Who doesn't love a relaxing bath? Now you can give the gift of one with these great bath salts! Give everyone their favorite scents in a relaxing bath.

Lanyard DIY
 The tutorial page presents this as a craft for teachers, but really it seems like it could work for anyone with keys! It's fun and can include the recipient's favorite colors or patterns!

Reversible Coffee Cup Sleeve DIY
This is the perfect gift for the coffee drinker you know. Imagine all the cardboard we could save from the landfill if people used these instead of coffee cup sleeves. 

Bird Nest Necklace DIY
If you're particularly crafty these birds nest necklaces are beautiful and elegant little gifts that everyone is sure to love!

Do you have any other great DIY gifts? Which of these is your favorite? Be sure to share in the comments!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Photo Friday

Happy friday everyone! Hope you're all having a good start to December with these unusually warm temperatures, although we're kind of missing the snow we're used to! However, we still fondly remember green grass!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Plant Gifting Guide

Finding  a great gift for a coworker, family member, or friend can be tough, and this time of year you have to purchase gifts for a lot of people. Plants make great gifts, and they can still be very personal. Check out our favorite plants for gifting.

Golden Pothos
These plants are great for a new plant owner, or a distracted one. They require very little care and flourish well on their own. Give them a Pothos with water retaining soil and they can water the plant very little, keep it in low to medium lighting and it will thrive. These plants are also known to purify the air as an added benefit! 


This plant is quickly becoming the new poinsetta. Around the holidays you can find them everywhere from gardening centers to superstores in brightly colored pots. It is important for this plant to go in a sunny, warm spot (somewhere between 68-70 degrees on average). This plant requires light watering until it's stem appears. After that, increase the watering. A flowering Amaryllis needs daily watering. 


Paperwhites are another low maintenance plant that is easy for beginners. Given lots of sunlight and adequet watering, this plant will brighten any room. When planted for use indoors they grow best in loose materials, like soil, pebbles, tumbled beach glass, things like that. Make sure you keep whatever you plant it in watered. The base of the bulb should be moist but not the entire bulb.  

Mixed Herbs

Herbs can be an extremely useful plant for a foodie who also has a bit of a green thumb. Pick the herbs you choose based on the skill level of the gift receiver. If they're an extremely skilled gardener they could handle a little more challenging herb, but if not there are plenty of herbs that are pretty hard to kill. Visit a local garden center for advice on what to gift for each skill level. The good news- you can plant a variety in one container, so it's a bit more varied of a gift. 


This hard to pronounce plant makes a great gift. It comes in a variety of colors, and since it is a succulent it is fairly hardy. Give them light and some water and they'll be good to grow. Plus you can grow a couple varieties, so you have one of all your favorite colors.

These are just a couple of plant you can gift, but they're definitely some of our favorites. What plants will you be gifting this year?