Monday, July 30, 2012

Featured Article: Carbon Neutral Higher Education

This featured article is a little different than our usual bizarre sustainable. This week we're exploring the idea of being carbon neutral in higher education. Luther College in Decorah, IA is hard at work toward their goal of being carbon neutral, and the school is doing a great job.

As Professor Jim Martin-Schramm says, "Colleges aren't supposed to be a mirror for society, we are supposed to be a model." Schools enstill values in their students, and many private and public college across Iowa are aiming to be more sustainable. It's showing their students that a sustainable lifestyle is goal worth working to attain.

As a company that deals with compost, we've worked with a diverse group of companies and institutions to make them more sustainable through their waste stream. When speaking about sustainability waste stream is a part of the topic often left out in favor for wind and solar power and electricity saving measures, or local produce shopping. Part of that may be the 'yuck' factor associated with talking about what we waste, but it is a crucial element of the conversation.

We commend Luther for their efforts, and we hope that they reach their carbon neutral goals. If other colleges wish to shrink their footprint as well, we encourage them to consider their waste stream and think about what could be diverted from landfills. We also encourage them to contact us about organic waste diversion.

Read the original article from The Des Moines Register here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo Friday

Happy friday everyone! Our photo this friday comes from a composting workshop that some of our employees attended this week. Here is one employee working on his compost pile!

This week was also Ragbrai and we're well into fair season, did you snap any great pictures while out and about this week? Post a link in the comments!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Featured Article: German Designer Turns Sour Milk into Silky Fabric

Okay, this story is a little older, but it flew under our radar for a while. Usually these featured articles are about wacky sustainable products that are made of unusual materials. This is no different, this designer made a fabric that is supposed to feel like silk from sour milk!

One of the benefits of this fabric that the article points out is that, although it is marketed as a luxury fabric, it's price will be stable, unlike silk and other labor intensive fabrics. It is also non-allergenic which would be very helpful in making a wide variety of products from blouses to bedsheets for hotels. The possibilities for this fabric is pretty impressive, and as long as we have animals producing milk it is available for production.

Feel free to read the original story here. What do you think, would you buy a shirt made from QMilch?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Proud Member of Adopt-A-Highway

Our company's headquarters are based in Iowa. We have a deep commitment to keep our state beautiful, so we are proud to be members of the Adopt-A-Highway program and clean a stretch of highway as a company.

There are so many benefits to the Adopt-A-Highway program. It enables our government to divert the funds that would have gone into paying workers to clean that stretch of road into other programs that are in need of funding.

Adopt-A-Highway also makes sure that our state displays the pride that our residents have it in. With clean highways visiters will have no doubt that Iowa cares deeply for it's natural resources and beauty.

The Adopt-A-Highway program started in Texas, but has spread to 49 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. It is easy to see why, the very nature of the program fosters a pride in all those involved and allows them to be actively involved in the preservation of nature.

If you'd like to get involved with the Adopt-A-Highway program visit their site here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! It's been a dry year but Iowa still looks pretty beautiful. Did you get any great shots this week?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Creating a more sustainable fair

It's fair season again, which means long days spent outside in your community. With County Fairs spread throughout the next couple of weeks, and the Iowa State Fair running August 9-19th it is easy to get caught up in the fun. However, it could also become much more sustainable fun with a little help from our company. Chamness Technology would like to help your fair receive a green ribbon for sustainability.

Fairs mean animals, and animals mean lots of bedding being used. We can safely dispose of all your fair bedding sustainably, which means keeping the world more beautiful for future fairs.

Fairs also mean a lot of food, and food waste can all be turned into compost. If your fair were to utilize our composting services you could use your waste to return nutrients to the soil that will be used in agriculture and gardens.

If you're interested in making your fair more green it's easy, just contact us today!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our top 10 Reusable Bag DIYs from Pinterest

Last week another city announced a plastic bag ban. These bans are happening all over the place, so we decided to scour Pinterest for the best Reusable Bag DIYs. We narrowed it down to ten, and now you can make a great reusable grocery bag of your own!

Tutorial here
This reusable bag is made out of 2 pillow cases, so if you're looking to redecorate your bedroom this is definitely the reusable bag for you! It is simple, but it looks stylish and unique.

Tutorial here
This bag is more your tradition bag, but with a handy pocket on the outside for your phone, keys, and wallet! It's so convenient that you don't even have to bring a purse to the store as well if you don't want to and it's insulate, so it can help keep your cold items cold and your warm items warm longer.

Tutorial here
A fold-away reusable grocery bag? Why wouldn't this one make our list? It's so compact and convient, but looks cute and functional when you unroll it. It's small enough that you could easily keep it in your purse or glove compartment if you need to stop by the store after work.

Tutorial here
This bag is a lot more like the original bags that were sold in grocery stores, but it allows for customization, which makes it unique and personal.

Tutorial here
This is another bag similar to the original reusable bags that you could buy at the grocery store, but this one seems like it'd be a stronger alternative. With the double layer of fabric at the bottom, plus the reinforced cardboard we don't think this bag should have any trouble handling your heavy groceries!

Tutorial here
This is one of 3 t-shirt bags we chose. The beauty of t-shirt bags is that you're only using materials that you already have and the ones we've found are all no-sew. It's a fun way to re-purpose t-shirts that you might have outgrown but still want to keep around.

Tutorial here
This t-shirt bag is very similar to the other one we featured, but it has fringe rather than a small amount of string at the bottom. Both are a fun way to keep using that t-shirt, and both tutorials comment on how surprisingly durable they are. 

Tutorial here
Our final t-shirt bag is the only one that requires sewing, although it ends up functioning much more like a produce bag. If you wanted the reinforcement of sewing without all the holes for a produce bag, you don't have to cut them, you can just call the bag done once you're finished stitching up the sides.

Tutorial here
Ever had an old bag from a food product that's really sturdy, so you feel bad throwing it away but you have nothing to do with it? Well, your answer is here! This reusable bag reuses old groceries to make it! The tutorial uses old rice bags since they're pretty strong, but it could easily be substituted with another exceptionally strong bag. 

Tutorial here
Our final tutorial is for a bag that says it's purpose is for a convertible clutch purse, however, we think it could work extremely well as a stylish reusable grocery bag as well. 

Those were our picks for our favorite reusable bag tutorials. Do you have another one that you couldn't live without? Share it in the comments! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Photo Friday

It's friday again, which means it's time for a new photo! This week's photo comes from nearby Webster City.

Did any of you snap a great shot today? Be sure to comment with a link to it! Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

5 Tips for starting an Urban Garden

While we mostly deal with people who have whole farms to plant, with today's urbanization it is important to realize that urban gardening and growing is possible too. Whether you're in an apartment or your house is just inside of a city, it is still possible to grow your own fresh produce. However, starting a urban garden can be somewhat daunting, so we've assembled the top five tips for starting an urban garden.

1) Evaluate your gardening space: Do you get sun exposure? Is there access to a sufficient water supply? Is there heavy traffic nearby? All of these factors can lead to success or failure in urban gardening and so it is crucial that you scope out what sort of space you'll be working with and plant accordingly. If you don't get much sun pick plants that thrive in the shade, if you don't have a hose nearby only plan enough to water with your watering can, and try to plant far away from traffic as it can cause wind and pollution that are harmful to plants.

2) Find plants that work for your space limitations: One of the big factors in urban gardening is pot or plot, how much space do you have? If you only have enough room for potted plants, make sure your plan accordingly and get plants that can flourish in pots. Some vegetables and herbs do well in pots, but some need the space to spread. Make sure you know whether yours can thrive or if it needs a bigger space.

3) Evaluate your skills and your time commitment: If you are new to gardening, perhaps it's better to go with a low maintenance, easy to grow plant. There are lists all over the web about easy things to grow as a beginner, even vegetables. If you're a gardening pro, but you don't have a ton of time to garden a lower maintenance plant is probably for you as well.

4) Know your plants before you start: Some plants like to dry between waterings, while others need constant watering to survive. Determining what your plant needs in the way of water and sun can lead to a thriving garden.

5) Make sure your landlord/city is okay with it first: creating your own garden is a great plan, but if your upset landlord kicks you out because of your green habit then it isn't something you should be doing. Make sure that your landlord and your city is okay with it, and check if you need a permit to grow in your city.

If you follow all of these tips you'll be on your way to your own urban garden!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Featured Article: Gardening inside the home

This featured article comes from Fast Company, and is about a method for gardening inside of your home. This planter looks like a rotating wheel, and it gives all areas of the plant equal light and water, while still looking nice in your home.

We've talked in this blog about how great growing/buying locally is for being green, but this allows for growing in your living room, without the hassel of a planter box. You could easily have this in a full size home, or an apartment and still live comfortably.

Find the full article here. What do you think, would you buy one of these for your home?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Photo Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! Hopefully your holiday week was good, if hot. We snapped this shot this week!

Did you get any good photos? Maybe some of your local fireworks? Share them in our comments!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Steps to a Greener 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! We're blogging a little early today, so we can get to you before your cook-out! According to an estimate by the U.S, Department of Energy, around 60 million Americans have BBQs today! With all the celebrations going on it is hard to remember to keep your grilling 'green'. However, we have a few simple steps to make your holiday cooking a little more eco-friendly.

Compostable over biodegradable- We hate to say it, but the word biodegradable has been tainted. Companies use the term all the time, even if their product is only biodegradable over 50 years. Compostable products, however, can go straight in with your compost and have to be certified in order to be labeled compostable.

Clean your grill- leftover food and grease in your grill leads to excess smoke, and just isn't healthy for your grill or the environment. Make sure to thoroughly clean your grill and you'll be good to go! Baking Soda is a great, natural grill killer too, just use a wire brush and an equal parts mixture of Baking Soda and water and you'll have a clean grill in no time!

Recycle your cans and bottles- Make sure you're sorting and recycling your waste. Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour on average, and the majority are thrown away. Recycling your bottles and cans is an easy way to make your cook-out a little bit greener.

Use organic charcoal in your grill- Overall, charcoal grills aren't great for the environment, however if you use an organic charcoal it will burn cleaner, as it is made from untreated wood, rather than traditional charcoal which is treated with chemicals and other additives to make it burn longer.

Buy a vinyl tablecloth, rather than a paper or plastic throw-away- This will save you the money of buying a flimsy tablecloth each year, and you're keeping that paper/plastic one out of landfills.

Use recycled aluminum foil for your grilling- Some brands now offer 100% recycled aluminum foil, most in cases made from 100% recycled paperboard.

Buy your food locally- buying from local farmers means you can find pesticide-free produce and you'll boost your local economy! It also doesn't hurt that those farmers just have to drive it into town, rather than across the country.

Use natural pest remedies- Nobody likes having bugs at the party! We have a full post about natural bug repellants, but another trick is to throw sage and rosemary on hot coals, if you're using a charcoal grill. They will make your yard smell great, and it will keep Mosquitos away. Citronella candles also make great bug repellants.

Monday, July 2, 2012

International bag-free day

While many of us already know that this Wednesday is an important holiday in the United States, Tuesday is an important day as well, it International Plastic Bag-Free Day, as reported by Waste & Recycling News. What better time for it? When you're out shopping for all of your 4th cook-out supplies, you should make sure to bring a reusable bag.

Plastic itself can take hundreds of years to break down, and plastic bags don't ever completely break down, they just rip into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, which contaminate the soil of the landfills they are placed in.

However, are plastic bags enough? Every year Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Why not use your own dishes for your celebrations, rather than something you'll throw out that night?

It'd be so easy to make your Independence day a little greener by declaring your independence from plastics, whether it's bags or eating utensils.

Read the original article here.