February 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
We all know the words, reduce, reuse and recycle. We also know how important they are; reducing the amount of waste we create, reusing what we have, and recycling the correct materials every chance we get. All of this means keeping more things out of the trash and landfills and giving another life to something you already own. You may lead a lifestyle of reducing, reusing and recycling, but it never hurts to brush up on the guidelines and also learn a few new ideas.
- Shop for products that use less packaging. This will cut down on the materials used in the manufacturing process. For example, purchasing goods in bulk and using reusable produce bags instead of plastic produce bags.
- Buy reusable over disposable items. For example, try using metal silverware and ceramic coffee cups at work instead of plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups.
- Glass jars – These can be used for collecting leftover cooking grease or storing bulk items like granola, rice or nuts. They can also be useful when organizing office items or craft supplies.
- Grocery bags – Use reusable grocery bags when you are grocery shopping. Don’t forget, these can also be used when you are clothing shopping!
- Household item plastic containers. A couple ideas are:
- Laundry detergent – poke holes in the lid and use as a watering can!
- Creamer containers – remove plastic packaging and use for storing snacks like cereal or chopped veggies in the fridge!
It is important to understand what you can and can’t recycle! Please check your local guidelines and regulations because they could change based on the city and your location.
What CAN go into the Recycling Collection Can in Des Moines
- Newspapers (including glossy inserts)
- Mixed Paper (including junk mail, even envelopes with clear plastic inserts, phone books, and glossy magazines
- Shredded paper (must be enclosed in a paper sack or box. You can even use cereal or pop can box that is taped closed)
- Toilet paper and paper towel cardboard rolls
- Gift bags with handles cut off, paper gift wrap (Does NOT include metallic, foil, mylar or glittery gift wrap)
- Cardboard (broken down, flattened and cut to fit inside the cart)
- Plastic Containers (including bottles, yogurt or margarine tubs without lids)
- Glass Containers (all colors)
- Tin/Aluminum Cans (no need to remove labels
- Paper Food Cartons (milk, including soy, chocolate, and cream, juice boxes, protein drinks, wine, egg substitutes, soup and broth)
- Wire Clothes Hangers
- Empty Aerosol Cans
A full list of accepted items are located here:
What CANNOT go into the Recycling Collection Can in Des Moines
- Yard Waste
- Garden Waste
- Hazardous Waste
- Plastic Bags of any sort
- Plastics: hoses, pipes, wiring, furniture, polystyrene, food storage containers, sour cream, cottage cheese or cool whip containers
- The following papers: tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, photo paper, photos and carbon paper
- Aluminum Foil
- Metals: pots, pans or utensils
- Paper contaminated with food, coated paper coffee and fast food cups and pizza boxes-(cut off lid and recycle)
- Hard cover books
- Metallic, foil, mylar or glittery gift wrap
- Containers that once held motor oil or antifreeze
- Berry containers
- Convenience store cups
- Tupperware and food storage containers
- Clothes/Clothing any type
A full list of not accepted items are located here:
These can be big changes for some people, so try to gradually add them into your lifestyle. Together, we can work toward decreasing the amount of waste going into landfills and make our Earth a cleaner place. Plus, repurposing and reusing can be a great craft and bonding experience for you and your family.
February 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
Journalist, Tom Brokaw, describes the generation who grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and later fought in World War II as the, “Greatest Generation.” In his book, he pays tribute to their selfless efforts of fighting Hitler and other forms of tyranny so that their children could enjoy a better life. The values that this group possessed were personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith. Brokaw credits this generation “with much of the freedom and affluence that Americans enjoy today. They have given the succeeding generations the opportunity to accumulate great economic wealth, political muscle, and the freedom from foreign oppression to make whatever choices they like. Despite these achievements, however, Brokaw believes that the Greatest Generation remains remarkably humble about what they’ve done. It is a generation that, by and large, made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered economically, politically, and culturally because of its sacrifices.”
One of the definitions of sacrifice, by Merriam-Webster reads, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” In the reference above, it was a surrender of great magnitude including a physical surrender of one’s actual life. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13.) I don’t take the legacy of a sacrifice like that lightly.
While we may not be asked in our lifetime to make as big of a sacrifice, there are still things we can do on a daily basis that give strength to the power of sacrifice. Things that honor others above ourselves. Things such as:
Giving of time, energy and talents: what special skills and abilities do you have that you could use to bless others?
Being humble: what circumstances happen throughout your day where you could sacrifice your own pride for the good of someone else?
Having integrity: Are you doing what’s right even if it costs you something personally?
Listening more than speaking: Are you really listening and caring about what other people are sharing with you throughout the day?
Being generous: Are you willing to part with things you have in order to share them with someone else, if they need them?
These are small examples in light of what others have sacrificed for the sake of the common good but it at least gets you thinking of ideas where you could make small changes in your life that may have a big impact on someone else’s. I have had the privilege of having people in my everyday life (family, co-workers, neighbors) who have modeled living a sacrificial life very well. Some of the happiest people I know are also some of the most generous and selfless people.
Napoleon Hill said, “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.”
What can you and I give up today for the sake of blessing other people? It may be something big or it may be something small. Either way, the act of sacrifice has power that can be felt from generation to generation. We are a generation who has been given much therefore, we have much to give.
February 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
Can you believe it’s already 2018? Every year seems to go by more quickly than the last. Time is flying, technology is rapidly developing, and business trends are changing at unprecedented speeds. Small business owners have a lot on their plates: keeping their business secure, staying up to date with rules and regulations, knowing the latest industry software, understanding current HR trends, and – on top of all that – modernizing their marketing practices to keep up with the big guys.
Tackling just one of these areas seems overwhelming, let alone running an entire business, but there are a few marketing trends that small business owners can (and should try their hardest to) take advantage of. Current-day marketing trends really run the gamut from simple blogging to intricate email marketing campaigns to artificial intelligence. We’ll take a look at some that are more attainable for small business owners. If you already have these under control, you’re doing great!
Content marketing creates a strong base for all of your marketing efforts. But what is it? Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Yikes, overwhelming! Let’s pick it apart.
Strategic marketing approach. All of your marketing approaches should be strategic. Think long term: how will my efforts fit together, who am I trying to reach, what else is my target audience interested in, where can I save some marketing dollars and where should I spend more? These questions and strategies vary for every company, so take some time to really think it through.
Creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. “Creating” is a big part here. While it can seem like a lot of work, it should also feel exciting! This is an opportunity to share your passion, expertise and personality with your audience. Distribution of content can take many forms. A very popular form is blogging. Again, go back to strategy here: Don’t just blog when you feel like it; create a plan and stick to it. For small business, a good target is one blog every one to two weeks. Other forms of distribution include your website content, social media content, newsletters and emails, downloadables and more. Finally, make sure your content is valuable, relevant and consistent. It should relate closely with what you do, provide some useful information to the reader and showcase your consistent brand and personality.
Attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Knowing your audience goes back to having a marketing strategy. If you sell landscaping services, your target audience might be homeowners (probably recent buyers) who are around the ages of 30-65 and make above median income. They enjoy attractive homes but aren’t complete DIY-ers. Know the ins and outs of these people and what their interests are. Create content that reaches this group of people, while being careful not to exclude your audience outliers.
Many small businesses are already on board with email marketing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this useful tool here. Email is a great way to share your content with your customers and target audience; many businesses offer email marketing content in the form of newsletters. Newsletters have a few strong benefits: keeping your name in front of your audience, reminding them you have an expertise they may need, showcasing your company’s personality and much more.
There are other opportunities to use email marketing besides newsletters, though, depending on your business. Perhaps you have sales or coupons; sending an email to your customers is a good way to bring them in the door. If you’re in an industry with frequent news, changing regulations, etc., sending out emails specifically for these reasons is appropriate. If you host events, sending email invitations and registrations is useful both to your customers and to you! Look for email marketing opportunities that suit your specific business and needs.
Marketing automation isn’t a brand new tool, but in the small business world, it isn’t as well-known as things like newsletters and social media. Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketers use it to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media and other website actions. Automation uses data at a level that most small business owners simply don’t have the time to do; it can pick through your audience and determine who opens the most emails, who reads which articles, etc., and lets you know who your strongest prospective customers are. Now that’s useful information!
While not a new concept at all, social media is here to stay, and it continues to develop and change. The first rule of a successful social media presence for a small business is to know which platforms your audience uses. Once you determine the best platforms for your business, reach your audience in the way they want to be reached with the content they’ll like. This might be informational articles, photos of you and your team, photos of your product, live steam videos of a project, third-party articles, etc. Come up with a plan and a goal, and utilize social media tools and paid opportunities to reach the audience you need.
The above areas are almost completely digital marketing strategies, and in today’s world, this should come as no surprise. Online marketing is very beneficial; everything works together in your favor if you strategize and play your cards right. But is the world turning into robots? Of course not. Traditional face-to-face marketing, or relationship marketing, will always have its place in the world. Know your customers’ names, their family members and hobbies, what products or services they like most – let them know that you know and appreciate them. (Side note: there’s an online tool for this as well – CRM (client relationship management) systems.)
No matter the size of your company, the industry you’re in or the time and resources you have, know that you can market effectively. All it takes is a little strategizing and planning to get started in the right direction. Happy marketing!