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September 26, 2012

Lately it’s caught my attention that “Going Green” is often labeled a “trend.” But everyday, more and more people are joining in on the fight to help clean up our environment. Because of this, I think it is unfair for the green movement to be labeled as such.  It’s here to stay. Going Green often conjures images of small businesses, local activists, and perhaps politicians using it as a campaign platform. But what you may not have noticed…big corporations are also working hard to preserve our environment. Several of them, are doing it right here in mid-Missouri.  Check it out below, and click the links to read more about each business’ Green Platform:


(locations in Columbia, Moberly, Booneville, Mexico)

This past summer the company announced a new $50 million Environmental Business initiative.  Some of the unique green aspects of the company include: steady paper usage reduction over the past few years, running an internal recycling program that saves roughly 200,000 trees in their operation, and employees are offered a $3,000 cash back reward if they purchase a hybrid car.

(well lets be honest…they’re everywhere)

McDonalds consistently teams up with PETA to focus its efforts into becoming more humane and friendly to the products used in their operation.  More impressive, though, the oil used to make those fires and nuggets tasty (but maybe not so healthy) during the 2012 Olympics in London was converted into biodiesel to fuel their delivery trucks.  It’s a common trend across the Atlantic though, McDonald’s UK has been doing it since 2010.  The environmental impact is the equivalent to removing about 2,400 cars from roads each year.

(locations in Columbia and Osage Beach)

What was once known as the “anti-green” company is now making strong strides in protecting the environment.  After being criticized for using wood from trees in old-growth rainforest, the company now operates on a “no old-growth sales” policy. Keeping rainforests in tact and helping you to build your home with wood you know is abundant.

(locations in Columbia, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Osage Beach)

The well-known school/business supplies company has its own line of innovative, Green Seal-certified and EPA-registered cleaning solutions, called Sustainable Earth. These products are not only less harmful to the planet they clean better and offer greater cost-in-use savings than traditional cleaners. Staples also has more than 2,000 paper items with post-consumer recycled content including Staples brand recycling paper.

(similar to McDonalds, it’s hard to walk down a street and not pass one)

The coffee giant uses coffee cup sleeves made of recycled paper.  It has a big impact … saving roughly 78,000 trees per year since 2006. Additionally, since 2011 the company has brought in $14.7 million in loans to be given to farmers (2015 goal is $20 million).  In that same time, they’ve decreased energy use by 7.5%.

(locations in Columbia, Jefferson City, Osage Beach)

In 2010, the company unveiled recycling kiosks in stores, giving guests an easy way to recycle cans, glass, plastic bottles, plastic bags, MP3 players, ink cartridges and cell phones right in their local store. Also, Each time a guest buys something, Target offers a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag they use. The company claims since the start, guests have used more than 80 million reusable bags instead of paper or plastic.

Green Art at Your Feet

August 31, 2012

Fish, frogs, and giant claws have taken over downtown Columbia, but mid-Missourians can rest easy—the unlikely sights aren’t getting in the way. They’re painted onto the city’s storm water drains as a part of new eco-friendly art murals that are greening up Columbia’s sidewalks.

In total, nine storm water drains in downtown Columbia are being transformed as part of a collaboration between the city and Thumper Entertainment, the group that runs the annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. The main goal of the project is to help people understand that storm water drains are not sewer
drains. Mike Heimos, Stormwater Educator for the city, said he also hopes the project educates the public about how the storm drain system works.

One current problem is that a lot of people may not realize that anything that goes into storm drains end up in creeks around the area. KOMU 8 recently highlighted some of these problems in a story you can see here.

The city has already worked to make visiting all nine decorated storm drains easy by creating an online map, which you can view here. In fact, I used the map with my phone when I went in search of the storm drains and it took me only 20 minutes to visit and take pictures of each one, which we posted onto our Flickr page and are in a slideshow below.

Don’t worry if you don’t have time in the next couple weeks to check out the storm drain art murals because the educational displays are here to stay. In fact, Heimos told KOMU 8 that he hopes to expand the project and one day get artists to decorate more storm drains all over Columbia.

Artist Information from the City of Columbia:

Locus Street: Maura Mudd

Cherry & Fourth Streets: Jenny McGee

Cherry Street: Dennis Murphy

Fifth & Cherry Streets: Rodger Francis

Fifth & Cherry: Deborah Zemke

Seventh & Elm Streets: Mike Sleadd

Elm & Ninth Streets: Ben Chlapek

Elm & Ninth Streets: Lisa Bartlett

Elm & Sixth Streets: Jane Mudd

How to Build a Green Home

June 1, 2012

ImageWouldn’t it be nice to be environmentally friendly while you sit at home? Well that’s now possible with new technology and small changes to daily habits.

Smarr Custom Homes, a custom home builder in Columbia, is showcasing eco-friendly products and is educating people on energy saving techniques in their new “Home of Possibilities.” Open houses are every Sunday from 1-4 and run until the end of June. Kristen Smarr says these open houses give visitors a chance to see these products in a real home setting instead of in a showroom.

According to Smarr, small changes can make big differences in terms of energy use. Window covers, light bulbs and energy star appliances can cut down the amount of energy you use in your home. Certain types of wall paint have less toxins and different kinds of wood are harvested in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. 

“Sometimes the concept of green can be intimidating to people and so one of the things that we wanted to show people is there are small choices you can make that can have big impacts,” Smarr said.

Smarr says many times people see products on television or in magazines and think the products aren’t actually available to them locally. But this model home became an opportunity for local companies to showcase environment friendly products.

Wes Wise, commercial and residential salesman for DKB Showroom in Columbia, said a lot of the “green” products are used for commercial use rather than residential use. But he also says if residents invest in these products they can save money over time.

You can watch our broadcast story on the Home of Possibilities at

Power From The Trees

May 23, 2012

On a hot Missouri afternoon a little bit of shade can be anyone’s friend. But did you know that shade, when properly placed, can help you save money on your electric bill too?

Columbia Water and Light knows this and is offering a free shade tree to people who are electric customers. Someone from Columbia Water and Light will visit your home to suggest the best spots to put your shade tree. You’ll also receive instructions on how to plant your tree.

According to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research a house can save 30% of its energy use by planting shade trees. One study found that trees planted on the south and west sides of the house reduced summertime electricity bills by approximately $25. And that can add up considering these trees have a lifespan longer than many homeowners. Trees also block winter winds and prevent soil erosion.

Columbia Water and Light offers multiple different shade trees through this program. Along with the free tree you’ll get suggestions on where to plant the tree depending on what kind you choose. Deciduous trees and shrubs should be planted near south walls and windows. If you plant trees in direct line at a 75° angle clockwise from due south, the trees will shade the corner of your home. Coniferous trees should be grouped together in the northeast and western sides of your home. This will help block winter winds.

When choosing a place to plant your tree make sure you pick a spot that will support the tree when it’s fully grown. It’s also important to leave room for the tree to grow both above and below ground. The trees should be planted away from power lines and driveways.

Electric customers can find out more about the shade tree program by signing up online or by calling Columbia Water and Light (573-874-7325). Once you have your coupon for your free shade tree you can pick it up at the Superior Garden Center on 2450 Trails West Avenue.

Fresh Greens at Your Doorstep

April 27, 2012

By Travis Jackson Worsowicz

Photo caption:

You’re probably thinking you live pretty eco-friendly…or maybe you’re a little eco-unfriendly and you’re looking to go greener. Well, if you live in Columbia, you don’t have to leave your house to have extra green arrive on your doorstep. Driving a hybrid car is great, but getting but you can cut the travel down to zero if you’re looking for fresh veggies.

The Quail Bone Farms delivery service in Columbia can put you and the environment on slightly better terms. Quail Bone Farms is a vegetable delivery service throughout Columbia. The Farmers deliver their 100% natural and pesticide-free veggies all over town. Did I mention they use bicycles to deliver? They say they’re out around town a couple of times a week, if not every day. All you have to do is call.

It saves the environment a little bit and saves you a trip to the farmer’s market or your local grocery store. You can call them at (816)-797-4779 and within the hour you have fresh veggies at the door. Imagine Jimmie John’s meets the Farmer’s Market.

I try to help out wherever possible and if you’re the same way Quail Bone Farms is for you. If nothing else, it’s a unique experience. It’ll expand your horizons and maybe your taste buds, too.

Mid-Missouri Celebrates Earth Day 2012

April 20, 2012

On April 22, more than one billion people around the world will participate in Earth Day 2012. The annual Earth Day, coordinated by an international network called Earth Day Network, is a global effort to raise awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s environment. And this year, the theme is “Mobilize the Earth.”

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Many issues are on the table: Renewable energy, energy efficiency, green jobs, clean air, and etc. Environmentalists and activists hope to educate their governments to stop polluting the earth in the process of industrial growth and find ways to decrease energy consumption via international cooperation. Yet Rome was not built in a day.

While organizations are lobbying to get “green” legislations passed, on the individual level, there’s a lot we can do to help. Turn off the lights and air conditioners when you’re not using it; once in a week, walk to work or ride bicycles; unplug all electronic appliances when leaving home for a vacation and much more. March 30th’s Earth Hour is one example showing how an action as little as turning off the light for one hour can add up to become something big. The City of Columbia alone saved 2 megawatts during the Earth Hour this year.

Throughout April, mid-Missourians can participate in a variety of events to your support to the environmental movement. The Department of Natural Resources sponsored the 18th annual Earth Day celebration 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 20, at the Missouri State Capitol south lawn. Activities for the event were tailored to fifth-graders, but all ages were welcome. The event included information booths, games and displays about the environment.

The Columbia Area Earth Day Festival is scheduled for Sunday, April 22 in Peace Park. There will be a Street Fair called Eco Avenue  from noon to 6 p.m. as well as music performance. Grant Elementary All Star Choir & Drum Ensemble, Midway Heights Elementary 4th and 5th Grade Choir, The Hellbenders and Stephens College Children’s School Group will perform from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Earth and Sky, DanceArts Dance Academy and La Movida will perform from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Audience can expect performance from John D’Agostino and the Earth Day Band, Violet and the Undercurrents, Missouri Weather and the Wait Five and Mere Mortals from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The final hour will feature the Box Elders.

8 Goes Green will continue to keep you updated on more Earth Day events and we look forward to your input in mobilizing the earth this year.

Xeriscaping: Going Forward by Looking Back

April 9, 2012

By Max Walker

Mid-Missouri gardeners looking for a way to go even green-er might want to try a program from the Western states: xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping is a form of gardening based on water conservation. Denver Water coined the term in 1981 to put a name to the concept.  It’s based on seven principles:

1) Planning and designing
2) Limiting turf areas
3) Selecting and zoning plants appropriately
4) Improving the soil
5) Using mulch
6) Irrigating efficiently
7) Maintaining the landscape

Using the concepts of xeriscaping has a variety of benefits, including reducing water use by 50%, eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and increasing property values.

The program has been particularly effective in Western states where droughts are more common and more severe. Tucson, Pomona, Farmington and many other cities in the Mountain and Pacific time zones host xeriscape competitions or have college departments dedicated to xeriscape. But the phenomenon has spread across the nation. The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson University have all addressed xeriscape concepts.

In Missouri, Ozarks Technical Community College offered a class on xeriscape planting and Springfield has a xeriscape garden:

Columbia Water and Light has a resource page for those interested in using native plants in a xeriscape project, as well as a map to its own xeriscape garden at Twin Lakes Park.

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