Smart interior design can also have low environmental impact. From window shades and blinds to floor coverings, there are many products today made with recycled or sustainable materials.
Here are some of our favorite tips to pass along to customers.
• Certified fair-trade goods: Many are produced by independent worker cooperatives. The emphasis is respect for the environment, gender equity and fair working conditions. You might be surprised to see what can be made from recycled phone books!
• Think durability. Products that last a long time means that fewer will wind up in landfills.
• Choose natural fibers for rugs, linens and other textiles. Today there are a wide range of items to complement just about any décor.
• Hunt for recycled merchandise. Take advantage of someone else’s redecorating plans. Perfectly good lamps, vases and other decorative items can frequently be found in Craig’s List, at garage sales, flea markets and in resale and antique stores.
• Adorn your table with beeswax candles. These aren’t just natural, they actually burn cleaner.
• Refresh walls with low-VOC paints. It’s an easy way to avoid breathing toxic fumes.
• Buy local whenever possible. It cuts down on transportation, which means less use of fuel.
• Look for the green and white “Made with BiOH®” hang tag on furniture. This tag says, “ BiOH polyols are soy-based ingredients that replace a portion of the petroleum materials in foam. They have a smaller environmental impact through lower energy use and a smaller carbon footprint while supporting farmers.”
• Use vintage tableware. This is much easier on the environment than paper plates and plastic utensils.
• Decorate with live potted plants. Research shows that healthy, well-maintained plants improve air quality, brighten people’s moods, and may even help to keep your home at an optimal humidity level.
Consumer demand for resource-efficient homes is on the rise. As people remodel, or move into new homes, they also are likely to need furnishings to complete their new space. This is the ideal time to help these environmentally conscious buyers think “eco-friendly” while decorating their homes.
Consider how to complement green home construction
Green builders try to minimize the environmental impact of a home by considering environmental factors as well as resource efficiency. Practical homeowners embrace green construction because it helps them cope with increasing energy prices as well as diminished water resources. For more on talking with customers about living green with BiOH® , see our video.
Indoors, these green homes are designed to have cleaner air – which appeals to health-conscious consumers. Everything from HVAC equipment to formaldehyde-free finishes are taken into consideration. These are all proactive approaches to give the homeowners a kick start on green, sustainable living.
Which woods should you recommend?
• Reclaimed wood: Handcrafted wood has unique character, and is available in everything from floorings to furniture. You may have heard of reclaimed barn wood. The trend now includes teak and other high-end woods. (Similarly, those concerned about the world’s deforestation are avoiding furniture made with species known to be threatened such as new Teak and Mahogany, as well as woods from endangered forests or areas where illegal logging is a problem such as Indonesia, the Philippines and South America. Some woods from these regions are, however, certified sustainable.)
• Renewable wood: Eco-friendly choices for furniture include bamboo, mango, coconut palm, beechwood and cork – most of which are fast growing and easily replenished.
• Recycled products: Some amazing furnishings are also being fashioned from recycled plastic and paper.
• Sustainable fibers: Choices include hemp, soy silk, cotton, corn, bamboo, coconut charcoal, wool and jute.
• Water hyacinth: This plant is invasive in tropical waterways. Because it needs to be cleared, it’s a good choice.
Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is considered a gold standard for wood sourcing. An international organization, the FSC promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s forests through certificates for forest management and chain of custody administered by third-party auditors.
Avoiding toxic finishes
Many paints, sealers and lacquers contain volatile organic compounds that qualify them to be classified as hazardous waste. Earth-friendly stains and finishes are frequently made with such natural materials as lime, clay, seed oils, citrus-peel extracts and milk proteins. Choose water-based sealers and finishes classified as low VOC (volatile organic compounds). Other good choices include whey-based finishes and natural waxes.
The BiOH impact
BiOH polyols are produced in both the United States and in Brazil to serve our global customer base. Today all of the soybeans we use to produce BiOH polyols for our foam manufacturing customers in the U.S. and Canada are sourced from North America.
For our Brazilian manufacturing facility, soybeans are sourced locally in Brazil. Responsible sourcing is very important to Cargill (that owns the BiOH polyol business.) Cargill works closely with the environmental group, The Nature Conservancy, to help Brazilian farmers learn and apply the best soy production practices while complying with environmental laws. In 2006, Cargill joined other leading Brazilian soy processors and exporters in announcing an agreement designed to curb deforestation in the Amazon due to soy planting.
The centerpiece of the agreement is a pledge not to purchase soy from lands in the Amazon biome that are deforested after July 24, 2006. Cargill is committed to working in partnership with others in the industry, the Brazilian national and local Governments, relevant institutes, local communities and NGOs in the areas in which we are present.
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on August 12, 2011
Sometimes, we need to treat ourselves to a break, especially during summer. After all the hard work you put in at your job, a vacation is definitely well-deserved. So get out your suitcases, sundresses, board shorts, flight tickets, and let’s go! But hold on. Have you given thoughtabout how eco-friendly your vacation spot is for you or your family? Oftentimes we are so focused on the idea of fun and adventure that we forget the potential ecological consequences these grandiose trips can cause. This summer, keep fun and the environment in mind!
Here are some general tips for an eco-friendly vacation:
Pick Driving over Flying: No one wants to drive to their dream destination when a simple one-way plane ticket can be bought. But you’d be surprised on how much driving lessens the ozone damage and carbon footprint we make on our environment. Air travel itself causes 3% of total U.S. carbon emissions! That number is only expected to rise over time as population grows.
Choose an Eco-Friendly Hotel: Many hotels and other resort accommodations have started renovations based on new environmental standards and needs. Some use ‘Energy Star’ or solar power to reduce energy consumption while many others have started recycling programs.
Pick a Single Destination: Not only will this allow you to save money on gas, hotel expenses, and other expenditures, exploring just one destination will allow you to truly explore the depth of the location through learning its culture and mingling with its locals.
Travel Light: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Bring only what you need to bring; instead of buying everything in new plastic travel-size containers, reuse old ones. Also, bring a reusable water bottle! J
Walk or Bike to and from Attractions: Again, doing this will not only save you from spending ridiculous amounts of money on transportation fees, but will also really give you the chance to see the place from a scenic perspective.
If you are really stuck on where to go, here are some wonderful eco-friendly places to explore!
Napa Valley (California): If you want great variety in your travel, this is where it’s at. Napa Valley has seven ‘Regions of the Valley’, with each region containing its own local attractions. The American Canyon, one of the regions, has lots of eco-friendly accommodations, including World’s First Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified Hotel called Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa. Its restaurant is very environmentally conscious in its food preparation, using only locally produced food. The hotel itself is made of sustainable designs, including carpets made from recycled materials.
Crystal Mountain and Resort Spa (Michigan): The Midwest has a lot to offer in scenery and chances for a healthy relaxation. The Crystal Spa is the only LEED certified spa in the Midwest and offers many organic products. In addition, there are outdoor programs near the resort, such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where you can explore the sand dunes that rise 460 feet above Lake Michigan.
Amelia Island Plantation Resort (South Florida): Want some fun in the sun? The resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has been active in its eco-friendly practices since 1971 when it first opened. You can either golf away on a golf course that uses reclaimed water for irrigation, or take a trip down to the nature center to learn about the creatures that dwell around the resort. Amelia’s Wheels is another activity where you can rent bikes or golf carts to the trails.
Highland Lodge (New Hampshire): If you love hiking through the mountains, this is the perfect spot for you. Located in the east, the lodge offers a great deal of hiking trails as well as educational programs where guests can learn the history and making of the trails. It is a part of the Highland Center, where a great deal is made out of recycled steel with natural vegetation in front. Both parents and kids can take “Green Tours” and learn about ecology, rock climbing, how to track animals, etc.
Now you can grab your suitcases and everything else you need for an eco-friendly vacay with family or friends! There are plenty of choices out there to explore, ones that not only offer adventure, but a chance to learn and appreciate the environment that we live in. With that being said, I’m now going to pack my own bags for my own eco summer excursion!
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on December 23, 2010
As the Cargill offices wind down for the holiday break, I snuck over to our research lab to see what the BiOH® polyols team was up to while their boss was away for the next few weeks. Much to my surprise, the skeleton crew was collaborating back in the “heavy lab” making some fun holiday decorations out of soy-based foam. Watch our video to see what interesting things you can make out of eco-friendly, soy-based BiOH® polyols this holiday season! Feel free to share other soy-based foam ideas that you might have.
Here is what they made:
Holiday tree: cutout form of recycled cardboard topped with soy-based spray foam, spray paint for coloring and a flexible soy-based foam star.
Candy canes: cutout form of recycled cardboard topped with soy-based spray foam and spray paint for coloring.
A special thanks to our lab team for allowing us to sneak up on them. Let’s hope they don’t get into any trouble for having a little holiday fun.
The Sage Award is an opportunity to recognize excellence in the home furnishings and bedding industries through honoring and acknowledging companies who lead in area of:
Reducing their environmental footprint
Expanding their positive social impact
Running a profitable business
This is the third year BiOH® polyols has partnered with the AHFA to present the Sage Award winner with a $2,500 donation to any non-profit organization of its choice. The purpose of the Sage Award is to seek out, discover and recognize true industry innovators from whom others can learn. This award is founded on the belief that environmental excellence is an ongoing journey requiring flexibility, insight and constant learning. The annual Award honors businesses that demonstrate a passion for and a sustained commitment to that journey.
Zenda Leather embodies these environmental requirements and many more by having internationally-recognized ISO 14001 environmental management certifications for its factories. This certification controls use of natural resources, handling and treatment of waste, and energy consumption. Over the last five years they also have:
Developed practices to reduce over 3 million kilograms of solid waste per year by producing compost.
Opened the first private energy plant in Uruguay that transforms waste into energy, eliminating the company’s need to buy power from an outside source
Built a waste treatment plant in which the biological sludge is used as organic fertilizer for local farmland and also saves an estimated 2 million liters of water per day by recycling rainwater.
Invested in developing more eco-friendly products and introduced “Eden” leather to the residential market in 2008. Only natural extracts – no metals – are used in the tanning process for Eden leather. They have over 10 years of experience making chrome-free leather for the automotive industry.
Edith Ledzema and Juan Diego Casaretto of Zenda Leather
Finalists Flexsteel Industries, Inc. was the first AHFA member company to implement the program EFEC – “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture” – a voluntary environmental management program for furniture manufacturers in all seven plants. As a result of the new practices and policies established during implementation of EFEC, they:
Reduced its waste to landfill from 554 tons per quarter in March of 2009 to 114 tons per quarter as of June 2010.
Energy consumption has declined every quarter since March 2009.
Water consumption and natural gas have also been reduced and the company has increased its use of recycled materials in operations and product development.
Pushed sustainable practices through the supply chain by requiring vendors to establish environmental goals – an effort now completed by 86 percent of its suppliers.
Finalist TLS by Design, which stands for Total Life Style, is an innovative, family-run business striving to follow an environmentally-responsible path. They are seriously committed to the environmental journey and on their way to be LEED® certified. In addition to energy efficient practices they also:
Use soy-based BiOH® polyols for foam cushioning, locally purchase recycled steel springs and all wood finishes are water-based.
70 percent of the company’s products are produced and sourced within a 75-mile radius of its base in Portland, Indiana including using local forests and mills for wood.
Repurposed their facility section by section, including buying old bowling alley lanes for a “new” 60-foot long cutting table and hired locally displaced employees.
Finalists TLS by Design’s Jeff Day and guest
The competition for this year’s award was challenging. Thankfully we had a handful of incredibly talented judges. Ten environmental, media and industry leaders accepted the responsibility of reading and judging the entries. They included:
Ray Allegrezza,Editor in Chief of Furniture Today.
Mary Frye, Executive Director of the Home Furnishings Independents Association
Heather Gadonniex, managing partner of MindClick, a San Francisco-based consultancy specializing in sustainable business
Leslie Guevarra, associate editor for Greener World Media, the online publishing group founded by Joel Makower
Susan Inglis,Executive Director of the Sustainable Furniture Council,
Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Editor in Chief of Natural Home Magazine
Jean Nayer, former editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day Special Interest Magazines and author of “Green Living by Design”
Richard Prisco, professor of industrial design, department of technology, Appalachian State University
Ryan Trainer, President of the International Sleep Products Association
Steve Walker, Assistant Directorof the Furniture Manufacturing and Management Center at North Carolina State University
Criteria for judging is based on three key points; Sustainable Business Practices, Commitment to Social Responsibility and Profitable Growth. We commend all entrants for their dedication to these efforts. For more information about the Sage Awards please visit: www.sageaward.org.
Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on November 23, 2010
In order to be a responsible corporation, a company must aim to be responsible across many ways that they manage and operate their business. We are excited to announce that on October 15, 2010, BiOH® Polyols corporate office team moved into a Gold LEED certified workspace. Cargill Incorporated through its Facility Department decided to use the LEED certification as a way to demonstrate broad commitment to sustainable office space design. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a ratings system guided by the U.S. Green Building Council.
At 766,300 square feet, Excelsior Crossings is one of the largest LEED application office-buildings in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. Excelsior Crossings located in the suburb of Hopkins, MN is the realization of decades of commitment to environmental stewardship.
Excelsior Crossings Campus in Hopkins, Minnesota
The list to gain LEED certification through the USGBC is quite lengthy and can be achieved in a variety of ways. There are three Excelsior Crossings office buildings in which the first was awarded LEED Gold certification in 2008, the second in 2010 and the third is in the process for early 2011. Keep reading to learn more about the sustainable strategies Cargill is implementing in the planning, design and operation of the Excelsior Crossings campus.
USGBC LEED Gold Plaques
How we got to GOLD:
18 environmental and design credits implemented at Excelsior Crossings:
• Building orientation
• Alternative transportation (excited to park my bicycle up front when I unthaw from winter!)
• Storm water maintenance (come take a swim in our beautiful pond, not!)
• Water conservation
• “Smart” irrigation
• Energy performance & operations
• Environmentally friendly refrigerants
• Use & collection of recycled materials (you don’t get $.05 per can but consider it a good deed)
• Local construction materials
• Sustainable harvested certified wood products
• Day lighting and daylight sensors
• Reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants
• Outside views for occupants (it’s fun to laugh at people stuck in traffic, until it becomes you)
• Thermal comfort for occupants (finally, no winter wardrobe and blanket in summer!)
• Green housekeeping plan
• Chemical-free water treatment
• Greenhouse gas neutral furniture and seating
(the use of BiOH® in sustainable lobby seating really helped gain GOLD)
• Environmental education and display.
Excelsior Crossings Campus LEED Display
We are very excited to share our new campus and ways that we are paving the journey to a better environment. Feel free to stop by and see this beauty all for yourself. Also, leave comments on how you or your company is doing great things to be more environmentally friendly. It’s very inspiring!
Slow Home means being mindful and knowledgeable about the furniture you purchase for your home and the impact on the environment of the materials that are used to make it. It means buying the best furniture you can afford so that it will last and not end up in a landfill. It means slowing down to appreciate and remember the memories that accrue to each well-loved piece you own.
Thank you, Gloria, for using furniture made by TLSbyDesign, an Indiana based manufacturer, who uses foam made with BiOH’s soy ingredient in each piece.
But, especially, thank you for sending us this beautifully produced and unsolicited video of your slow home living room to share with our readers. We wish you and your family many years of happy memories there.
Phase 1 (May 3- 28) – Submit Your Photo Entry: Get your cameras and get creative! It’s fun and easy to participate – just submit a photo of a family member, a friend, a pet, or yourself with crazy Bed Head – you know, they type of hair you have in the morning after going to bed with wet hair or after a lot of tossing and turning. (Limit of one entry per individual.)
Phase 2 (May 29- June 4) – Public Voting: This is your chance to lobby your family and friends to vote for your photo! The top five entries with the highest number of votes will be selected as finalists!
Phase 3 (June 4) – Judging: Judges will include a three member panel with representatives from BiOH, Serta® and HGTV. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected from among the five Finalists based on the following criteria: creativity (50%) and originality (50%).
Phase 4 (June 4) – Winners Announced: Winners will be announced the afternoon of June 4! The Grand Prize winner will receive a queen mattress set from the HGTV Green Home Collection, and the four Runners Up will receive $100 iTunes gift cards.
Here’s Jessica Koster, Marketing Manager for the BiOH Polyols business talking about the contest…with her Saturday morning Bed Head!
We can’t wait to see the photos you submit. Maybe you’ll want to go to bed with your hair wet. Or maybe you can try to some new hair styling products before bed. Whatever you do…. we hope you’ll spread the word to your friends and have fun! Good luck!
Posted by Jessica, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on March 24, 2010
Did you know that you might be sitting on soy while waiting for your next flight? Arconas became the first airport-seating manufacturer to incorporate soy-based BiOH® polyols from Cargill in late 2009. Arconas is a global leader in airport seating, servicing some of the world’s largest airports such as Boston Logan, Dallas/Fort Worth, JFK, Hong Kong, La Guardia, Lisbon, and Orlando, among others.
So where will you be able to sit on soy? Arconas seating with BiOH polyols is coming soon to these airports:
Los Angeles International Airport, CA
Raleigh-Durham International Airport, NC
Winnipeg International Airport, MB
Des Moines International Airport, IA
Newport News International Airport, VA
Calgary Executive Flight Center, AB
San Antonio International Airport, TX
Flyaway Seating from Arconas
This week the Arconas team is highlighting their innovative products – including those containing soy foam with BiOH Polyols - at the Passenger Terminal Expo in Brussels, Belgium. Among other things, visitors to their booth may receive a reusable shopping bag crafted by Arconas from 100% recycled textiles as shown in the picture below!
These reusable shopping bags from Arconas made from 100% recycled textiles will be handed out during the Passenger Terminal Expo.
You can keep up with Arconas and their innovative products on Facebook, Twitter: @Arconas, or their You Tube channel. And next time you’re at the airport… consider if you might be sitting on a soy innovation while waiting for your flight!
The BiOH experience offers resources for you to learn and participate in helping communities and the environment. It is brought to you by the BiOH polyols business — a maker of soy-based ingredients for foam. Please explore our site and then share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you!
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