Friday, June 29, 2012

Photo Friday!

This week's photo friday comes from near Iowa City! Check it out!

It's been pretty hot out this week, did any of you brave the weather for a great shot? If you did you should post a link in the comments section! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Featured Article: Generating your own electricity at work.

Today we're doing another article feature on an unconventional eco-friendly product. This desk creates electricity from the person sitting at it.

The desk, shown above, could provide a great start for a more eco-friendly workplace. Many companies are hard at work trying to lower their carbon footprint, and this desk might actually help them in that area. Like the last featured article we covered, we were a bit skeptical at first. A desk that creates energy? While the current version might pose the challenge of hiding wires, we are impressed with the fairly simple and pleasing appearance. 

The desk looks as though it was made for most current work cultures, the chair and rug collect energy while in use, whether you get up to stretch and think by pacing on your rug a bit, or you're seated and hard at work you'll be generating electricity! 

What do you think? Is this a viable options for office life? 

Read the full article here and let us know what you think! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gardening Inspiration

In this day and age it's becoming increasingly hard to have enough room to garden everything you would like, especially in urban areas. It's due to this trend that a new gardening fashion has arose, vertical gardening. If you've been on Pinterest, there are tons of tutorials for how to make your own. Some are fairly simple:

Original Image Link

While others can be fairly complex:

Original Image Link

We found a few that are inspiring us to try out vertical gardening on our own, so we thought we'd share them with you as well! Enjoy our top 10 Pinterest Vertical Gardens!

Original Pin

We love this one because it's simple, and you can recycle old coffee tins or other old cans in the process! We also think this one would be easy to do at home.

Original Pin

This one is cute and could easily work both as an interior and exterior garden, if you wanted to add a little green to your sitting room. 

This one is more inspiration than an easy how-to, but we love the look of making your plant life decorative, and we think these plants will definitely be getting enough light and rain!

Original Pin

This pin leads to a DIY for this vertical garden, which was much simpler than we thought it would be! It also looks like a framed work of art, and we love that it almost becomes a decorative piece as well as a garden. 

Original Pin

This is similar to the last one, but with a bit of asymmetrical flair. While there isn't a tutorial, we imagine that you could make it the same way as the previous vertical garden, just arrange the planters differently.
Original Pin

Another vertical garden made of recycled materials! Recycle mason jars and old pieces of wood, from a pallet or otherwise, to make this fun little herb garden! 

Original Pin

Whoa. That's about all we can say for this building turned mountain.

Original Pin

What can we say, we're a sucker for Vertical gardens that recycle. And this one has a creative twist, as it doesn't climb up a wall, but rather hangs down, like planters only more space efficient!

We love this trellis style vertical garden for a bit of a different, but classic, flair. 

Original Pin

We're going to finish with an awe inspiring piece by one of the most famous vertical garden designers, Patrick Blanc. This pin links to an article with a bunch of pictures of his vertical gardens, you should definitely check them out for some inspiration.

If you want to follow us on Pinterest feel free, here's our profile

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Friday!

This week's photo comes from our backyard- no really, it's taken right behind the corporate offices! What a relaxing view!

Has anyone else got a great view captured from right outside their window? Share the links with us if you have! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer DIY: Creating a nature-friendly bug repellant

It's summer time, which means we're all spending a lot more time outdoors. It also means that bugs are out in full force. The problem with commercial bug sprays is that most are made up of harmful chemicals. Making your own eco-friendly, homemade bug spray is easy, and you'll have your choice of ingredients!

The first thing you need to know about making your own bug spray is that most bugs have an aversion to many natural things. Heres a quick cheat sheet as to what certain pests dislike:

  • Mosquitoes- Cinnamon Oil, Castor Oil, Lemon Eucalyptus/Eucalyptus Oil, Citronella Oil, Peppermint Oil, Lemongrass Oil
  • Ticks and Lice- Lemon Eucalyptus/Eucalyptus Oil, Rose Geranium Oil
  • Biting Flies- Citronella Oil
  • Fleas- Orange Oil
  • Stinging Insects- Lavender Oil

There are a lot of other natural oils that repel insects, but these are a few of the most effective ones.

You can also choose one of the following as a base for your natural repellant:

  • Olive Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Cooking Oil 
  • Witch Hazel
  • Alcohol
Be careful using the cooking oils if you are going to be in direct sunlight. Many have found the Witch Hazel to work the best as a base. 

Once you choose your ingredients, mix 10-25 drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice with 2 tbsp of your base liquid. Feel free to make a double batch or larger if you need more spray than this. Then put this mixture in a spray bottle of your choice, and voila! Homemade, nature-friendly bug repellant! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photo Friday!

This week's Photo Friday comes from near Cedar Rapids!

Wow! Did you get any great shots this week? Post a link in our comments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GreenRU Helps Student's Compost Crusade: Ninth Grade Student Lilly Brown Wins the Cafeteria Food Waste Fight

This story is from back in April, but it's great.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (April 17, 2012) – Lilly Brown is trying to change the world. At the young
age of 15, she is environmentally-conscious beyond her years and has a long-term goal to help
reduce society’s dependence on landfills. Lilly determined that she could make a real difference
at her school, Prairie Point Middle School and Ninth Grade Academy. She discovered that 65%
of the total cafeteria waste could be diverted from the landfill and turned into compost. There
was just one problem. Lilly wanted to compost the food waste, but had no way to do it as efforts
to compost on-campus were not practical. GreenRU, an organic diversion company, learned of
the situation and met with Lilly and Prairie Point’s Principal, Greg Leytem. Today, GreenRU
collects the organic food waste at no-charge through the end of the school year.

Lilly Brown

Lilly has showed her fellow students a more ecological way to deal with trash and food waste in the cafeteria. Students were educated on the options of putting food waste in one container and waste for the landfill in another. Students are responsible for the separation when they return their food trays to be cleaned. The program has met with tremendous success. Today, the collected waste goes to a state certified compost facility and the school is seeking a grant to continue food waste diversion for the entire College Community School District next year.

“I like helping the Earth and the environment and this is such an easy thing that just about
everybody can do to help,” Lilly said.

GreenRU, a Chamness Company, is the first company in Iowa to provide full composting services; including education, training, collection containers and services. The program is designed to work with industry, schools, colleges, grocery stores, hospitals, and institutions that are looking to better their environmental footprint and improve their sustainability efforts.

Over 34 million tons of food waste is thrown away by U.S. homes and business and food waste
is now the fastest growing waste stream sent to landfills. Organic materials, when re-purposed
into compost, make a nutrient rich soil amendment and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GreenRU’s innovative pick-up system is unlike any other in the region. The specialized organics collection vehicle is specially designed to transport organic materials safely and efficiently to a certified compost facility. At the composting facility, organic waste is mixed with wood and other materials and processed over several months to create compost that can be used for a variety of agricultural and horticultural applications. All of the compost from Iowa clients goes right back to Iowa soils to enrich the next generation of crops. For more information, visit

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keeping an open mind about new alternative products

This morning we found this article: WATCH: London Designer Grows Vegetable Leather | Ecorazzi

The article is all about a designer in the UK who is designing a leather out of plant materials. This material can be molded into any shape and will last about 5 years. After 5 years you can add it to your other compostable goods. The leather itself is made of green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.

While the idea of putting green tea on your body as clothing seems a little bizarre now, these products could make real change. 12 million tons of trash is a huge amount. That's how much clothing, shoes and textiles end up in landfills annually. A few weeks ago the compostable flip flop and the compostable tooth brush were both featured news stories, and all of those products offer new ways to lower your impact, even if they may seem a little strange at first.

You can keep the product for 5 years, so the leather will still last about as long as a person wears the same clothes, and then you have a convenient excuse to go shopping again. That could be a definite plus! Feel free to share your own experience with off-beat compostables in our comments.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Photo Friday

Today instead of a normal blog post we decided we'd have a little fun since it's friday. This photo was taken Wednesday at our Eddyville location, and we love how peaceful it looks. Did you take any great outdoors pictures this week? If so, comment with the link!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 simple ways to live more sustainably

We all want to help our environment, however, it can be a pretty daunting task with work, school, and everything else going on in our lives. Luckily there are small changes that we can all make that make a huge difference. Here are 10 simple ways you can change your life to be more sustainable.

1) Take shorter showers. Shorter showers help conserve water and they help out your water and electric bill at the end of the month! Rather than falling asleep in the shower each morning, stay alert and get in and out quicker. It may even mean a couple extra minutes of sleep for you if you are a long shower person. 

2) Switch to filtered water rather than bottled. Bottled water will cost you more and the containers create a huge amount of waste. You can even purchase reusable water bottles that have filters in them now, so it's easier than ever to get the fresh filtered taste without all the biowaste.

3) Unplug your appliances when they're not in use. Many appliances still draw energy, even when turned off. You can also get a 'smart' power strip (one that recognizes when appliances are turned off and cuts off energy use) if unplugging all of your appliances seems like a hassle. 

4) Biking is another obvious answer, but if you live in a rural setting it may not be an option to ride your bike to work. If biking and walking aren't options, keeping your car in great condition will still help. Change your oil and air filters regularly and make sure your tires are inflated so that you can get the best out of whatever car you drive. 

5) Plant a garden. Planting a garden can help you supply some of your own food, whether it's herbs, tomatoes or an apple tree. That way it literally goes from you garden to your kitchen, no gas powered transportation required. For the things you can't grow yourself, buying local should be your first choice. Then it's something made in your area rather than something that has to be flown across the world, cutting down on oil and supporting local business. 

6) Bring reusable bags when shopping. This really does make a difference. If you often forget to grab them on your way to the store, keeping them in the car will make sure you're ready to shop whenever you're out. 

7) Go to restaurants/coffee shops that provide 'green' dining options, or bring your own. This one sounds a little strange, but if your local coffee shop isn't providing compostable cups yet, bring your own travel mug. Restaurants are slowly making the shift to compostable to-go containers, but if they don't some people even advise you bring tupperware with you. However, with local restaurants it's always important to support sustainability. If you know one burger joint in town makes huge efforts to be sustainable and offers compostable containers, go there over the fast food chain up the street. 

8) Only do full loads in your appliances. If your dishwasher is half full, give it another couple days before you run it, same for your washer and dryer. These appliances use a lot of energy every time you use them, so if you use them only when they're full then you'll save money on your bill and you'll be more sustainable. 

9) Rather than buying a product, try to make it yourself. With the Internet literally at the tips of our fingers, DIY projects are easier than ever. If you can make your own Ranch dressing, rather than buying it bottled at the store, you're saving a little bit of cash and the plastic from container that you would probably just toss afterwards. 

10) Along the lines of DIY, learn how to upcycle. Upcycling is essentially recycling products by making them into something useful. There are tons of upcycling projects on the web and it can be a great way to reuse single use products and make something great out of them. I've seen upcycling projects for everything, from purses to picture frames. 

With these easy steps you can make yourself more green without having to change your daily habits too much. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Using Compostable products to put a dent in landfills

Everyone hears the statistics about landfills, but sometimes they seem like an unsurmountable problem. We blogged about compost on friday, however the use of compostable products is another great solution. Landfills worldwide are expected to reach capacity by 2030. Compostable products will help relieve landfills of tons of waste a year(literally).  Sometimes it's hard to know the benefits of compostable products, so here are 8 things to know about compostable products.

1) It requires less energy to produce compostable products that it does non-compostable products. They actually require under half of the amount of energy that plastic does, which means you can create twice as many materials for the same amount of energy.

2) Compostable products saves on oil for production. This means that compostable products can be created domestically and require about 65% less dependency on oil.

3) Compostable products are surprisingly resilient. Generally they can stand temperatures between 120-200 degrees, meaning you don't have to worry about your hot coffee melting your cup. You can microwave them or you can freeze them, just like any non-compostable product.

4) Compostable products can be composted. We already talked about the many advantages of using compost in your garden last week. Compostable products can be reused in compost and help you fertilize your plants once you're done using them (after going through a composting process).

5) The toxins found in plastic aren't present in compostable products. This leads to a harmless breakdown and absorption, which means safe soil and water. Where it can take plastics hundreds of years to decompose, a compostable product can easily decompose in weeks or months.

6) The materials to make compostable materials are renewable. Rather than using non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, compostable products are made of natural substances that can be replanted and grown again for use. 

7) These products show your organizations/event's commitment to the environment. Let's face it, being green is pretty important in today's economy. It's not just a small faction of people, but a majority who are aiming to live more sustainable lives. This means that businesses and groups using compostable products show their customers their dedication to the environment. 

8) Availability is also key. When reading all these points it's easy to think, "Wow, well if there are really that great, they must be hard to get or else everyone would be using them." However, they're available worldwide in any quantity you could want. 

If you want to start using compostables in your home or business, be sure to check out GreenRU for compostable products.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Growing Season in full swing!

It's officially June which means that it's time to pull out that green thumb and get started working in that garden! Have some plants that just aren't looking up to snuff? Compost can help you get the most out of your summer gardening. Here's a quick list of 5 ways that compost can help your garden this summer.

1) Compost helps your soil retain water. This means that your soil has more water to feed your plants and help them develop healthy roots! Healthy roots are key to healthy plant growth, wether you're planting tomatoes or daisies.

2) Compost fights against soil contaminants for your plants. Since it's so absorbent it keeps harmful pesticides and chemicals in your soil from reaching your plants. It also works to degrade these contaminants over time.

3) Compost also helps out the critters in the soil that help your plants. Adding compost to your garden feeds organic matter to micro and macro organisms that will then feed beneficial nutrients to your plants. It also attracts earthworms, who in turn also help your soil. This is just one more thing that makes your plants healthier and your garden more bountiful.

4)If you're in an area with more clay based soil, compost will do wonders! Plants that have never been able to survive due to lack of moisture will thrive. Compost works itself into the clay sediment and helps to release water throughout it, without over saturating your soil and not allowing it drain or under saturating it and letting it grow hard and unable to aerate.

5) Composting is completely natural. That means that you're not introducing chemicals to your plants, as you would with pesticides and some fertilizers. Compost is a natural, organic product. It actually helps your soil in the long run, rather than temporarily fixing a problem, but then causing greater problems in the long run.

We hope your gardens flourish this summer, and we know that with the help of compost they definitely will!