5 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Going Green

February 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Green Living, Slideshow, Tips

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Green entrepreneurs are a growing force in the start-up world, and they aren’t just coffee shop owners and locavore grocers. Small business owners in every sector of the economy are discovering that going green is not just better for society; it’s also better for customer satisfaction, as well as the bottom line. Here are a few of the most effective ways entrepreneurs are leading the way in environmental stewardship.
1. Retro Furnishings

Start-ups across the country are cutting their initial costs by reusing and recycling old light fixtures, desks, giant cable spools, discarded pallets and more to furnish and style their offices (or garages), instead of splurging on new offices and fancy furniture. It’s hip, cheap, and efficient, allowing entrepreneurs and their staff to function like they need to, without spending much money. It also saves the waste and cost of manufacturing new products and keeps those old furnishings out of the landfill….

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Aromatic Infusions – Luxurious Gifts for Mom (or Yourself)

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If you’re heading to the Des Moines Farmers Market tomorrow, be sure to stop by Candi Karsjens’ booth: #N208 2nd Ave. and Court. You’ll find her selling items that we’re quite smitten with here at Blue Planet Green Living. Your mom, grandma, or aunt will likely be, too. (It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, if you didn’t get my hint.)

In my last post, I wrote about UpCycled Style, glasses, vases, and more that Karsjens makes from repurposed wine and liquor bottles. But that’s only one of her product lines. She also sells pleasantly fragrant, hand-crafted soap and candle items that even this scent-free-workplace advocate can love….

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Repurposing Goes Classy in UpCycled Style

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Candi Karsjens is an ecopreneur in every sense of the word. She is an environmentalist, who repurposes and upcycles other people’s cast-off bottles into gorgeous glasses, bowls, vases, and more, giving each one an entirely new for years to come. She also creates candles and creams free of toxic chemicals and even pours candles into her upcycled glass holders. Karsjens has two built-from-the-ground-up small businesses she’s now combining into one: Aromatic Infusions/Upcycled Style.

Next weekend, Candi’s products will make their first appearance at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to meet the designer and see her full range of cool products….

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Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort: Sustainability in an Island Paradise

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The inspiration for a successful, environmentally friendly luxury resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach started from a love of nature and animals.

Ewald Biemans, originally from Austria, founded Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts 25 years ago on the island paradise. With only 104 rooms, the hotel is situated away from the loud hotspots and high rise buildings on Aruba, but restaurants and shopping areas are accessible in the nearby capital of Oranjestad.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts sits on 14 acres of white sand and has been called one of the few “Dream Beaches of the World.” This romantic, boutique-style hotel caters to adults only. It offers beach weddings, a professional wedding planner, and “green” weddings….

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Mississippi River Distilling Company’s “Grain to Glass” Philosophy Fills Niche in Iowa

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When the Burchett brothers first started talking about the idea of starting their own micro-distillery, they didn’t have much experience. Now, more than a year after its opening, the Mississippi River Distilling Company boasts locally made and award-winning spirits.

Located in LeClaire, Iowa, just above the banks of the Mississippi River, the micro-distillery has been in operation since December of 2010. Ryan and Garrett Burchett honed their skills for distilling by visiting and researching the craft in Germany, eventually bringing back what they learned to their home state of Iowa….

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Tab for a Cause — An Easy Way to Raise Funds for Charity

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If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

My answer to this question is always the same: Pay my tuition. Most college students don’t have money to spare, and if you manage to earn a few bucks, it goes towards books or school supplies. So, when someone asks you to donate to charity, it’s hard to contribute.

Four college students – Kevin Jennison, Alex Groth, Joel Detweiler, and Sam Ward-Packard tackled this problem. On August 4th they launched Tab for a Cause (TFAC), a browser extension that allows the user to donate to charity simply by opening a new tab….

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VeeV Greens the Liquor Industry with Sustainable Spirits Made from Acai

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When brothers Courtney and Carter Reum decided to launch a spirits company, they were open to different possibilities—but one element of the concept was a certainty. “We knew it would include a sustainability component,” Courtney Reum says. “Nobody was doing anything sustainable in alcohol. There was a lack of innovation. So we realized we had a chance to do something really unique.”

The brothers resigned their positions as investment bankers with Goldman Sachs and set out to “green” the liquor industry.

That was four years and more than 500,000 bottles ago. Since the first 7,500-bottle batch of VeeV Acai Spirit™ came off the line at Rigby, Idaho-based Distilled Resources Inc., this duo has racked up some pretty compelling eco-cred….

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Graphic Designer Combines Art and Sustainability

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It takes courage to look at your profession and say, “We are part of the problem.” But Tania Kac, a freelance graphic designer who offers eco-friendly design solutions, does just that.

“We’re generating ideas that end up in the trash,” says Kac. “I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. We create billions and billions of pieces of trash every year.” …

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Woofables – A Gourmet Bakery Your Dog Will Love

December 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa, Pet Food, Pets, Slideshow

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Although Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery in Coralville, Iowa, sells dog food, it has the light scent of a real bakery. Owner Laura Taylor, who used to work in marketing, now spends her days crafting handmade treats for canines out of all-natural, all-human-grade ingredients.

While frosting a cake, Taylor explains that everything made in the store can be eaten by people; they’ll just think it tastes bland. Salt is unhealthy for dogs, so items are flavored with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Frosting is made with carob and yogurt and tastes like white chocolate….

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Taproot Nature Experience Deepens Children’s Connection to the Natural World

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Taproot Nature Experience was founded on the simple idea that kids need to have time outdoors.

Launched in September 2007 by Zac Wedemeyer and his wife, Elesa, this Iowa City-based company has several different programs that connect children with nature: an after-school program; a summer camp; and Sprouts, a program for pre-school-aged children.

Wedemeyer says that kids used to be allowed to go outside more, but now parents are afraid to let their children out of the house alone. As a former elementary-school teacher, he saw firsthand how little time kids spend in nature and how much time they spend watching television and playing video games….

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Karmic B.S.™ Sanitized Bovine Excrement – A “Greeting Jar” with Laughter, Bite, and Good Karma

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“Hand someone a jar of Karmic B.S.™ sanitized bovine excrement, and their first reaction is likely to be confusion,” says ecopreneur Joe Hennager. “They see the bull and the yin-yang in our logo — and the pile of bull poop — and they usually look up with a question in their eyes.

“But the second they tip the jar to read the punch line on top, they burst out laughing. They get it. The person giving them the jar is saying, ‘This is full of B.S. & so are you!’

“The idea of karma is that you get what you give,” says Hennager, who also happens to be my husband and the co-owner of Blue Planet Green Living. “The yin-yang symbol in our logo represents the idea of ‘what goes around comes around,’ which is another of the punch lines we use. After all, this is real, sanitized B.S. (and you know what that means). When someone gives you B.S., you can give it back — literally — with our adult novelty gift.” …

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Software to Hold “Greenwashers” Accountable

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It’s no secret that “going green” has become the next big thing in the corporate world. Riding the wave of consumers’ growing interest in environmental sustainability, companies are launching major ad campaigns to tout their green credentials. But many of their claims are misleading or downright false. The ads are compelling, but how are we to know who’s telling the truth? “Greenwashing” is eroding the credibility of well-intentioned green businesses and turning would-be green consumers into skeptics. …

The development of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software is well underway, with roughly 60 vendors bringing solutions to market. ECA software enables companies to track their carbon footprint and the footprint of their suppliers as well as the impact of customer use of their products. It’s a promising innovation that can help us manage corporate America’s environmental footprint, but it’s still at the early stages of adoption. We need a number of things to happen for the ECA market to mature and develop environmental accounting to the same level as financial accounting….

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ReUse Connection – Ideas for Repurposing, Freely Shared

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  Ian Moise is the founder of ReUse Connection, a Facebook page and future website dedicated to finding alternative uses for items or materials people might otherwise throw away. For example, do you ever wonder what to do with used plastic tape dispensers? ReUse Connection readers suggested ideas as varied as making candle holders, using […]

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My 5: Jennie Nigrosh, The Green Garmento, President and Co-Founder

August 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Barack Obama, Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asks our interviewees to answer two questions that give us insights into their thinking about the planet we all share. Today, Jennie Nigrosh, president and co-founder of The Green Garmento, gives us her responses. The Green Garmento is a reusable polypropylene bag that replaces the ubiquitous, single-use, plastic dry cleaning bags.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to protect the planet?

NIGROSH:

1. Education. We have to learn where the problems are, understand the answers, and do the best we can to solve them….

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Breeze Dryer – Eco-Friendly Solutions for Drying Your Laundry

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“Why do you care about drying clothes outside?” Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Gary Sutterlin, President and CEO of Breeze Dryer. “Do you have a passion for this, or is it just a business?

“For us, it goes beyond that,” Sutterlin said. “It really was a life lesson for our children. I’m a pharmacist by training, my wife’s a Ph.D. by training. I was doing very well in the pharmaceutical industry as an executive and pretty much walked away overnight. Our passion was to make a difference in this world. We found that medium through clotheslines.”

The clotheslines that Sutterlin and his wife, Gayle, sell are made by Hills, an Australian manufacturer known for quality and reliability. We interviewed Sutterlin by phone from his home in Pennsylvania….

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Working for Green – A “Video-Based Web Community” of Ecopreneurs

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“A big part of what we’re doing — and what gives me great passion — are the personal success stories about individuals,” says Susan Neisloss. “I can’t tell you how important it is for me to be able to share these stories and to have people give us good ideas. That is the key to building this community.”

Neisloss is speaking about the community of people who visit Working for Green, the website she has published for about a year. A seasoned broadcaster and reporter, she interviews ecopreneurs who are making a living by starting and running environmentally friendly businesses….

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The Green Garmento – An Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning Tote

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“Using The Green Garmento for your dry cleaning is similar to the reusable totes movement, which started as something grocery stores were offering and has changed the way people do their grocery shopping,” says Jennie Nigrosh, president and co-founder of The Green Garmento.

Nigrosh’s product is a dry cleaning bag that consumers use over and over again, both as a hamper at home and as a way to transport their dry cleaning without plastic bags. “Way beyond the fact that we have an interesting product that helps make life easier, helps to organize your closet, and helps you be green all at the same time,” Nigrosh adds, “it’s a new category.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Nigrosh by phone from her California office to learn more about The Green Garmento as well as its acceptance in the dry-cleaning world and in homes around the nation….

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Sustainability – A Personal Journey… by Stuart W. Rose, Ph.D.

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When I started reading Sustainability by Stuart W. Rose, Ph.D., I expected to learn about the innovative community he and his wife, Trina, had designed and built in Poquoson, Virginia. And I did. But I also learned many more things about sustainable communities and futurism that I hadn’t expected.

The book is an easy read, but also sort of quirky. Rose has a habit of ending one thought with ellipses and trailing off into a new paragraph. He has an interesting idea about where to place commas (e.g., as the last character before closing parentheses) — not exactly standard English composition. But it’s kind of charming in its literary naiveté.

Rose, however, is far from naive. As readers learn at the beginning of the book, “Dr. Rose is a registered architect, and a graduate structural engineer. He holds a doctorate in organizational development, has been a professor at three major universities, and has worked for several decades as an educator and a consultant to architects, consulting engineers, and other design professionals. Sustainability is arranged in chronological chapters, beginning “Circa 1985″ with the author’s professional and personal concerns about global sustainability.

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Fair Trade Connects Local Producers with Global Consumers

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Zulugrass necklaces are at home in both Kenya’s pasturelands and a trendy boutique in Los Angeles. A colorful, coiled group of The Leakey Collection’s Zulugrass™ strands costs $39.95. But what the price tag doesn’t mention is that the woman who cut, dyed, and beaded the native Kenyan grass into this necklace is earning enough money to feed and educate her family for years to come.

Katy and Philip Leakey founded The Leakey Collection™ after a devastating drought a decade ago destroyed the livelihoods of their neighbors in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. As the landscape became charred and depleted, the community’s men moved north to find grazing grounds for their cattle, and the women and children were left behind with no source of income….

Recently, Philip and Katy visited one of these retail outlets — Zero Minus Plus in Santa Monica, California — to discuss the local impact of buying fair trade products. “Fair trade is a response to globalization,” Philip said. “Several decades ago, people produced [goods] for their local markets. With the internationalization of markets, many producers lost their buyers.” Fair trade is a market-based attempt to connect these producers with their new, global consumers, focusing on ethical and sustainable business practices….

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Hallowell Acadia Is Revolutionizing the Heating Industry

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How do you heat and cool your home? Do you have both a furnace and an air conditioner? What if you could install a single, highly efficient, and environmentally sound system to handle both heating and cooling?

The Acadia, designed and built by Hallowell International, is a revolutionary, next-generation, air-source heat pump — the first that functions efficiently in cold climates down to -30˚F. Even residents of Canada and New England can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures year ’round without the use of fossil fuels.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Duane Hallowell, president and co-founder of Hallowell International, to learn about the latest innovation in heat pumps….

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