Eco friendly winter vacation ideas

Posted by Jenny, BiOH Polyols Marketing Assistant on January 10, 2011

As its -6° F and snowing outside right now in Minnesota, I’ve decided to research tropical vacation destinations. This got me thinking about ways to make my upcoming adventure more eco-friendly. Many of our office staff members prefer to head somewhere warm for the winter as it just gets too unbearable to handle these long, frigid MN winters.  In my search for the perfect destination, I discovered some fascinating websites that feature eco-friendly vacations so I thought I’d share them.

Eco Tropical Resorts offers many great locations from the Caribbean to Mexico and as far away as Africa or the Pacific.  They have also established the Butterfly Club eco rating for resorts interested in assessing and improving their eco policies and practices.

If you enjoy just cruising along and are looking for an eco-friendly cruise line, try Eco News Network’s   Top Five Eco-Friendly Cruise Lines and be sure to take a look at the Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card to determine the right fit.

Is vacationing in the United States more your style? Then check out Eco Smarty. Their site lists the top 5 eco-friendly resorts in the U.S. You will be amazed at the Oil Rig Platform Resort and Spa where reclaimed oil rigs are turned into oceanic eco resorts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wherever you may roam…if planning a vacation this year, you now have the option and resources to make it an eco-friendly vacation and support sustainable tourism.

BiOH® holiday decor and soy shenanigans

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.

Happy Holidays from your friends at BiOH®!

Watch and share video:

5 Tips to Green Your Holidays

Posted by Jenny, BiOH Polyols Marketing Assistant on December 17, 2010

As the holiday season approaches, we thought that we would share some environmentally friendly options to spruce up your season. 

  1. Real trees vs artificial.  Real trees provide a renewable, recyclable resource.  After the holidays, the trees are chipped into biodegradable mulch and used for mulch, trails and many other things.
  2. Decorating.  Decorate your house and tree with energy-efficient LED lights.  Also put them on timers so they are not on all night.
  3. Greeting cards.  Send holiday cards via email or an online greeting card website.  If you prefer to send traditional cards, make your own or purchase ones that are on recycled paper.  To eliminate envelopes, hand deliver them or send postcards.
  4. Gift wrapping.  Instead of wrapping paper use reusable gift bags, magazines or other materials you already have around the house.  Reuse bows from last year and old holiday cards as gift tags. 
  5. What to do with all those boxes and packing materials afterwards.  Recycle all cardboard packaging and other packing materials.

We hope these tips were helpful and if any of our readers have additional ideas please feel free to share! Also, if anyone would like to help us dig out of our snowy tundra here in Minnesota we would welcome the company. Safe travels wherever you may roam and have a wonderful holiday season from your friends at BiOH®.

The 2010 Sage Award winner…Zenda Leather!

Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on December 10, 2010

On December 1, 2010 at the American Home Furnishings Alliance’s Sustainability Summit, Zenda Leather was named the 2010 Sage Award winner. Other finalists included Flexsteel Industries, Inc. and TLS by Design.

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 Director of 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:

PBS airs For Your Home episode featuring BiOH®

Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on December 6, 2010

Airing on PBS and featuring BiOH® polyols on December 6th is an incredible show called “For Your Home.” This show is narrated by Vicki Payne CEO and Producer of Cutters Productions, Inc. and Host of For Your Home.  The show is based on the DIY aka “Do It Yourself” model and teaches many basic home fixes that we all wish we could do as fabulously as Vicki and her team complete them.

Host of For Your Home: Vicki Payne

In the “Revision House” episode airing on Dec. 6, Vicki talks about the trend of more and more homeowners choosing to remodel their existing home instead of relocating. Many are choosing to redesign their homes to better fit their lifestyles and to be more environmentally friendly. Discover what today’s leaders in the Green Retrofit building market are doing to make existing homes more energy efficient and livable. Ron Jones, publisher of Green Builder Magazine, is the tour guide for this exciting project and explains how his team took an existing home and remodeled it to be an eco-friendly shining star. Vicki and Ron are also joined by eco designer Pat Gaylor with tips on how you can design a greener interior for your home by using products such as Cargill’s BiOH® polyols which helps reduce dependency on petroleum.

Pat recommends that you choose:

  • Energy efficient appliances
  • Quartz mineral counter tops
  • Low VOC paints
  • Recycled and sustainably forested wood for counter tops and flooring
  • Ceramic tile flooring and carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Furniture with soy-based foam made with BiOH®polyols

Watch this episode:  2701-revision-house

BiOH® shows how to LEED® by example

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!

And the winner is…

Posted by Jenny, BiOH Polyols Marketing Assistant on October 20, 2010

After much anticipation and over a month’s worth of social media engagement, we are excited to announce that the winner of BiOH® polyol’s Project UDesign is…Alifair by Ryland Quillen! Ryland is from Johnson City, Tennessee and a student at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

His design, Alifair moved onto the final round of consideration on October 3, 2010 and had the highest online favorability for Project UDesign which commenced at 11:59pm on October 19, 2010. Ryland was awarded this honor and presented a check for $1,000 from Cargill’s BiOH® polyols business along with a royalty contract from Century Furniture this morning at the close of High Point Market.   Runners up, Emily Carpenter and Matt Gray received gifts from co-sponsor Toray International, makers of Ultrasuede® EcoDesign™ upholstery covers.

Project UDesign is the first crowd sourced sustainable furniture design competition with online consumer decision that was conducted through the BiOH® polyols fan page.  Students from SCAD put their talent to the test when they were challenge to create a sustainable wing-chair design that would become part of the Century Furniture® collection and made with Ultrasuede fabric and BiOH® polyols.

When talking about inspiration Ryland noted, “I thought about the concept of a wing chair, the wings providing comfort and a sense of enclosure. I realized, however, that if the wings are too imposing, they can block vision to the right and left when sitting in the chair. To cope with this, I decided to employ cut-outs, creating a window large enough to see to either side when sitting. The gently swooping curve on either side suggests the feeling of warmth and comfort without hindering sight. The legs on the chair are tapered and shown in dark mahogany.”

Ryland Quillen’s Inspirational video:

When asked about sustainability Ryland quoted, “Using sustainable materials in my design not only makes my chair earth-conscious, but also means that my piece will stand the test of time and become an heirloom passed through future generations.”

Ryland Quillen’s winning chair design: Alifair:

Hittin’ the road to High Point

Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on October 15, 2010

Have you ever wondered where everyone in the furniture industry is during the entire month of October? Well, I have a little secret and if you didn’t already know… it’s time for the season’s hottest event for the Home Furnishings industry!  High Point Market  is “the world’s home for home furnishings” and runs October 16-21, 2010 in High Point, NC.  This is where the furniture industry comes together to share, collaborate and connect with some of the industry’s most influential retailers and manufacturers.

The BiOH® polyols team is hitting the road and headed to the beautiful state of North Carolina where I get to experience my first High Point Market.  Of course we are thrilled to kick-off the week at the Century Furniture showroom with the Project UDesign tweet-up on Monday evening.  Don’t forget that UDecide the winner! So hurry up and visit the BiOH® polyols fan page before 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, October 19, 2010. We will announce the winner at the WITHIT student mentoring breakfast on Wednesday, October 20. Check back for more details on the winner… Until then, watch this video about the top three SCAD student designs and view inspirational quotes on sustainability from passionate interior design bloggers.

Project UDesign at Century Furniture

In addition to Project UDesign, we will be visiting with many of our incredible partners who share the soy love for sustainability and BiOH® polyols. If you happen to be at High Point Market, make sure to stop by one of these manufacturers and inquire about their furniture with BiOH polyols.

BiOH® takes on the Big Apple!

Posted by Nicole, BiOH Polyols Marketing Manager on October 4, 2010

On September 20th we took soy to the streets of New York City in an effort to continue promoting Project UDesign.  Thanks to the help of super connected design bloggers and twitter friends (@moggitgirls,  @creategirl and many more…); we were invited a the taping of the Nate Berkus show! As an added bonus we also attended the Rue Magazine launch party which was held in our Project UDesign partner Century Furniture’s incredible New York Design Center showroom on Monday night.

As you can imagine when you gather a group of trendy interior designers and savvy social networkers, it is quite the place to be seen. The shoe collection alone would make Carrie Bradshaw green with envy. Needless to say, Rue Magazine, a new online only “all things design” magazine kicked off in style. Would you expect any less?

A toast to the brains & beauty behind the Rue Magazine launch at Century Furniture’s NYDC showroom

This incredible opportunity enabled us to educate the interior design community about BiOH® polyols and the unique ways that we are leaving behind a smaller environmental footprint. Our message was so well received that a plethora of design bloggers are now supporting and talking about Project UDesign by spreading the soy love to their social communities.

Here’s a glimpse at these amazing blogs and their incredible authors, who we would like to thank a million times over!!!

Glad to finally meet Amy @abcddesigns and thank her for her incredible Project UDesign blogs.

Day two involved hours and hours in a holding pen to get into our seats at the Nate Berkus show. The group was amped up and ready to blog about the experience. Nate Berkus is an interior design icon, the Owner of Nate Berkus Associates and was often featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show before  launching his own series dedicated to all aspects of design. It was a remarkable experience to speak with Nate about BiOH® polyols and better understand how interior designers are making great strides everyday to recommend and use more sustainable products such as BiOH® polyols!

Check your local listings because the Nate show episode we attended airs today, October 4, 2010 and features Project Runway’s very own Christian Siriano. What a great tie into our own, Project UDesign!

Great seats in the audience of the Nate Berkus Show! Airs Oct. 4, 2010.

All in all it was a successful trip and an abundance of new Twitter friends! The design community as a whole is a tight knit family who makes even newbie’s like me feel welcome! I look forward to working with many of them in the future and I am so thankful for all the support around Project UDesign and the success it is bringing to our BiOH® fan page.

Don’t forget to DECIDE NOW! Project UDesign ends October 19, 2010 so hurry up and decide on the next sustainable wing chair design from students of SCAD. The top three have been chosen from nearly 2,000 people so cast your ballot and show support for these incredible student designs!

Project UDesign contest begins today! YOU DECIDE!

Posted by Jenny, BiOH Polyols Marketing Assistant on September 3, 2010

BiOH® polyols is excited to announce the kickoff of Project UDesign!  Select your favorite wing chair designed by students of the Savannah College of Art and Design: SCAD Furniture Design: The new home for Ideas, Creativity, Innovation.  The top 3 finalists will move onto the final round of online consumer selection and have a chance for their chair to be added to the Century Furniture line and made with BiOH® polyols and Ultrasuede Interiors.  YOU DECIDE!


Ryland Quillen - Alifair Chair

Clare Beumer – Buncome Chair

Colin Jones - Tortoise Chair

Emily Carpenter - Kona Chair

Emily Carpenter - Madur Chair

Matt Gray - Luna Chair

Project UDesign video

Help decide who the 3 finalists will be.  DECIDE NOW!