Flat Tire’s materials come from Chicago, and the company’s products are made in southeast Wisconsin by Easter Seals workers, contributing to what Hottinger calls “the trifecta of goodness: Our products are 100 percent recycled, they’re made in the U.S., and they’re made by people who get a great sense of self by working.”
It’s common for companies making green gardening products to have a corporate commitment to their community and the environment; Woolly Pockets has a school gardening program designed to help schools set up outdoor classrooms in which to teach kids the “pocket science” of growing vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. Loll Designs works with polar explorer Will Steger and his foundation to support solutions to climate change, subscribes to Minnesota Power’s wind energy conservation program, and has implemented sustainable practices throughout the company.
Gardeners appreciate such commitments. “Gardeners get it right away. They understand green,” says Dave Allen, whose company, GreenBird, in Cincinnati, makes birdhouses out of laminated recycled paper. “When I am feeling my best,” Allen says, “I am out in the garden, and the birds and the bees are with me.” He designed his paper birdhouse to encourage the birds to hang around.
To appeal to children — and teachers — Allen developed lesson plans on birds, habitat, ecology and recycling. Even a durable paper birdhouse does not last forever, of course, but it can be recycled. “It’s just designed to last for one nesting season,” Allen says, “but what you learn will last a lifetime.”