Iowa schools aim to reduce food waste

The University of Iowa, Coe and Luther colleges will join the University of Northern Iowa in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national initiative to reduce food waste.

Iowa, Coe and Luther were among nine universities that EPA said today will join its Food Recovery Challenge. The effort is aimed at encouraging businesses, organizations and institutions to actively participate in food waste prevention, surplus food donation, and food waste recycling activities.

Learn more about the EPA’s program here.

Environmentally friendly holiday tips!

  • Minimize your car use whenever possible to save gas and reduce air pollution. Take public transportation, carpool with a friend, or walk when you go shopping or to holiday parties.


  • Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Bring your own reusable bags, or consolidate your gift purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store.


  • Buy gifts that are kinder to the environment, such as LED bulbs, low-flow shower heads, cloth shopping bags, a solar-powered calculator, educational eco-toys, refurbished computer, backyard composter, rain barrel, refillable thermos bottle, and recycled-content stationary and note pads.


  • About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Consider giving rechargeable batteries and battery charger to accompany electronic gifts.


  • Consider non-material gifts. How about a gift certificate or coupon for music lessons, pet-sitting, house cleaning, guided tours, pre-paid class registration, a massage at a local spa, or tickets to a sporting event, museum, concert or play? Give a monetary donation in a friend’s name to a favorite charity.


  • Make edible gifts, such as breads, cookies, preserves, dried fruits, nut mixes, or herbed vinegars. Give the baked goods in holiday tins or baskets that can be reused.


  • Invest in your family and friends. Instead of giving a gift, contribute to a child’s savings account, education IRA or give them a U.S. Savings Bond.


  • Think up creative gift wrapping ideas. Wrap gifts in the comics, old calendars or maps, decorated brown grocery bags, or a colorful piece of fabric. Also remember to save gift boxes, ribbons, bows and gift wrap to use next year.


  • When buying holiday cards, choose cards made from recycled paper. Or, make your own cards out of last year’s cards and the wrapping paper you saved. You can also try sending electronic greeting cards to reduce paper waste.
  • Photo by Virginia Millour; Flickr
  • Collect the foam peanut and bubble wrap from your purchases and take them to a mailing or shipping store where they can be reused.


  • Got a new microwave, toaster, clock radio, toy, or coat? Consider giving away your old appliances, toys, games, or clothing to a local charity or thrift store. Recycle or donate using the recycling locator at


  • Consider upgrading to energy saving LED holiday lights and strands that are up to 90 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent holiday bulbs.


  • If you plan on entertaining, have clearly marked recycling containers at your party for guests to recycle their cans and bottles. Send leftover items home with guests in reusable containers.


  • After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Check with your local solid waste department and find out if they collect and mulch trees.


  • If you’re going away from home for the holidays, turn down your thermostat and put lights on timers to save energy.
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McDonald’s Switching Polystyrene for Paper

Photo by AlohaStone; Flickr

Advocacy group As You Sow scored a noteworthy triumph this week when McDonald’s announced that it will replace environmentally destructive polystyrene foam coffee cups with paper cups at the company’s 14,000 locations in the U.S. Continue reading

Iowa State Fair going green

2012 Iowa State Fair. Photo by John Pemble; Flickr
2012 Iowa State Fair. Photo by John Pemble; Flickr

This year’s Iowa State Fair hopes to be greener than ever as event organizers renew their commitment to environmental responsibility. The celebration will feature a dedicated recycling initiative, a “Clean 5k Run” where runners will collect litter, and MidAmerican Energy’s Wind Turbine and Wind Education Center. Even the famous food stands are contributing to the environmental effort by recycling cardboard, plastic cups, and grease. Continue reading

Plymouth County recycling groups earn Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence award

Photo by tulipepower; Flickr

The City of Le Mars, Van’s Sanitation and Recycling of Le Mars, and Plymouth County’s Solid Waste Agency of rural Le Mars, earned the Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence award last week for their ongoing waste management efforts. Continue reading

Iowa considers expanding nickel-per-bottle recycling

Photo by John Walthall, Flickr.
Photo by John Walthall, Flickr.

A bill that would expand nickel-per-bottle recycling programs to more beverage containers is being considered in Iowa.

This program, which would incentivize recycling, was signed by Democratic subcommittee members and will advance to the Appropriations Committee.

It’s unlikely that the bill will get passed, but it may gather enough attention to prompt research into its potential.

Read more here.

UI considers eliminating physical copy of the directory

Photo by Telstar Logistics, Flickr.
Photo by Telstar Logistics, Flickr.

The University of Iowa’s directory is currently available online and in a physical format. However, the school is considering eliminating the physical copies in order to save paper.

In 2012, UI ordered 6,500 directories. Many students and faculty members never use these directories, and instead opt to look up information online.

Along with potentially eliminating the directories, many professors are going paperless in their classrooms and UI is cutting back on their copies of phone books for the residence halls.

Read more here.