Category Archives: B&Bs

Creating a Second On-Season

Between May when the weather gets warm and when it starts to get cold in November, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) brings thousands of potential customers through the towns along it’s length. During peak summer months and holiday weekends tourist destinations like Ohiopyle can be awash with visitors and their dollars. Finding ways to maintain and increase this seasonal traffic is a great way to increase profits, but the problem becomes what to do during those months of the off-season. For established businesses strong local patronage during the trail season is a bonus and the off-season brings slower but still good levels of business. The issue is really for those businesses that depend on the trail customers.

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Reuse with Freecycle

Checkout for an easy way to reuse! This nonprofit organization connects you with local freecycle groups, allowing you to easily post items you want to get rid of, but don’t want to trash or recycle. You can also browse online postings of items that people in your community are trying to get rid of. Get rid of stuff for free, get stuff for free – pretty sweet deal.

We strongly encourage companies to join freecycle at work, as a way to enhance your company’s corporate social responsibility. Remember the triple bottom line ~ People, Planet, Profit.

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Filed under B&Bs, Business, Creative re-use, Green on the GAP, how-to, in Southwestern PA, inspiration, Outdoor/Bicycle Outfitters, recycle, Reduce, Resources, Restaurants, Retailers, reuse, Triple bottom line

GAP SBN Annual Summit – Recap

Thanks to all businesses who attended the Trail Town Program meeting/GAP SBN Annual Summit on Thursday, October 27th, in Ohiopyle!

The meeting emphasized TTP business initiatives and honored Sustainable Business Network members for their involvement and dedication to sustainable practices.


Fueled by delicious cookies and coffee catered by Backyard Gardens (owned by SBN member Vicki Marietta), attendees discussed the following topics:

– Trail Town Ice Creams – a creamy sample of Gobble Berry donated by Sisters’ Cafe (operated by SBN members Lisa Hall and Deb Conn) in Confluence.  Some possibility of having a passport next year to encourage tasting at each Trail Town.

– The state of the Trail Towns represented.

– Ways to maximize trail usage, i.e. via business hospitality education programs, selling GAP merchandise, and improving trail safety.

– The GAP and Trail Town Program websites undergoing reconstruction.

– Creating a business cooperative: allowing businesses to buy in bulk to reduce overhead costs for sustainable materials.  i.e. construction materials, eco-containers, local produce, dairy, and meat.

– Update on the Sustainable Business Network, including information about goals, current membership, an upcoming website, and future objectives, i.e. getting all members to create an EnergyStar Portfolio Manager profile.


Following the meeting, attendees enjoyed a pasta buffet at Falls City Pub, operated by SBN members Eric and Kasia Martin.

The Trail Town Outreach Corps looks forward to this event for next year, with hopes that more members can join for an informative afternoon and an enjoyable evening!

GAP SBN Summit Notes October 27, 2010l

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Trail Town Outreach Corps: Your Friendly Neighborhood Business Resource

As the sun comes out and the Everest-like snow piles begin to melt, it’s clear that we are at the beginning of another season out on the trail! Spring cleaning is officially upon us, so besides having time to dust off your shelves and spruce up your window displays, it is equally as important to reassess  how to cut down on your monthly overhead. And surprise, surprise! Being green can help you accomplish this.

Simple steps to cut down overhead include:

-turning lights off when you leave the room

power strips when not in use can be turned off

-lowering the thermostat down after work hours

-using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent

We already have some great ideas for lowering your monthly overhead and simultaneously becoming a more sustainable business archived right here in the GAP SBN blog all available as a resource for your perusal. Also, we at the Trail Town Outreach Corps want to remind you that we are another valuable resource available to help you research sustainable practices, help you write grant applications, or find you the assistance you need to make your sustainable business vision a reality!

Also, please remember that the GAP Sustainable Business Network is a place for you, the forward-thinking local businesses along the trail, to engage in dialogue as a community about how to better your sustainable business practices by sharing new ideas, detailing your own challenges, or reaching out for assistance.

This is your network to build as you see fit so be sure to make the most of it!

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Filed under 1, B&Bs, Business, Green on the GAP, Outdoor/Bicycle Outfitters, Resources, Restaurants, Retailers, Triple bottom line

Clean and Green – Eco-friendly cleaning products for your business

Cleaning supplies can be a big expense for your business, but do you ever think about the additional costs the products you choose incur on your health and the environment? This article will discuss cleaning products that preserve your health, wallet,  the environment and still maintain the  cleanliness standards we are accustomed to.

There are several keywords to look for when considering the “greenness” of a cleaning product: bio-degradable, non-toxic, plant-based, chlorine-free, phosphate-free. (Keywords like “green”  and “natural” aren’t necessarily the best indicators, as those terms are not regulated.) These products do less harm by not adding harmful chemicals to the environment or indoor air, which the EPA has found is often worse than outdoor pollution when using conventional chemical cleaners.

There are many products that are priced comparably to other brands of cleaners including Ecover, Seventh Generation, Clorox Green Works. Brands like Simple Green are especially cost-effective as it comes in a concentrated form and are geared toward industrial uses.

To save even more money, consider making your own cleaning products from basic household items like vinegar and baking soda. Find some recipes here.

For even more information check out these sites:

Wikipedia’s page on green cleaning and…

Planet Green’s article jam-packed with information on more products, statistics and more…

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Greening your one-time-use food service supplies

There are three areas to think about when greening your food service operation. Your building envelope and energy consumption, waste management strategies and the food itself. In this article we focus on how to reduce the environmental impact of the waste you generate through your business.

Of course, the greenest option is to serve food and beverages on reusable plates, in glasses or mugs and offer cloth napkins, which also makes for a very pleasant and memorable dining experience for your customers. However, if that is not possible, another strategy is to use compostable and/or biodegradable dinnerware, silverware, take-out containers and recycled paper napkins. These products are made from plant-based and other renewable materials rather than petroleum products and break down more quickly than traditional plastic and styrofoam options. The benefits are great: less dependence on non-renewable and foreign oil, less waste in landfills, less toxins leaking into our food and bodies, and creation of useful compost material. ( Polystyrene— aka Styrofoam— is one of the worst offenders. The GAP SBN encourages members to discontinue their use of styrofoam whenever possible. Read more about the environmental and health impacts here. )

Of course, there are cons to think about when making the switch to biodegradables and compostables. The cost for these containers is sometimes double that of conventional options, which can be a hindrance for even the most well-intentioned business owner. However, member businesses of the SBN who use these products say they help build relationships with customers who inquire about the practice and appreciate the efforts of the business. Trail users expecting to support a green business may be disappointed to receive their otherwise delicious meal on a plastic or styrofoam plate. First impressions are important, and serving food in a more sustainable container is a great, visible way to show your commitment to sustainability. This can encourage repeat business and word of mouth endorsements, which are very important along the Great Allegheny Passage.

Think about partnering with other SBN members when placing orders to reduce overall costs! For take-out containers, some businesses charge a minimal fee (as little as 5 cents) for customers using the items. Most won’t mind once you explain the reasoning, plus it will make them consider the true cost of their decision as well. Still other businesses offer a small discount for customers who bring their own reusable containers for their leftovers. Post any other creative solutions in the comments section!

Below is a brief list of resources on eco-friendly food service containers. Be sure to do your own research too to find what will work best for you!

An quick read from USA Today about compostable dinnerware: trends, pros and cons. offers the necessities for greening your single-use food-service items. is a good starting place for finding green products used in the food-service industry., based in VT, offers a full range of products to order (and their specs), as well as some interesting facts about composting, waste and recycling.


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Got questions about Local Foods?

Attention restaurateurs and B&B owners!

Do you have questions about local or organic foods? You can get them answered by Pittsburgh chef Bill Fuller and the Allegheny Front’s Jennifer Szweda Jordan for the new segment Earth’s Bounty 2.0. They’re taking phone calls and e-mails pertaining to local foods and the environment that may air on the radio show.

E-mail them at or call 412-25-ZESTY with questions from dyes in food and sustainable fish to local wines and beef.

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Don’t Forget…

…To REGISTER for the upcoming Sustainability Summit by Friday November 13.

This official kick-off event for the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network (GAP SBN) is hosted by the Trail Town Program and will feature presentations from local business owners operating successful businesses that merge economic and environmental interests.

The event will be held at the Turkeyfoot Valley Historical Society in Confluence, PA from 10am-2:30pm on Wednesday November 18.

We’ll also offer tips and practical solutions and programs to help you save money. And get more details about how to become a member of the growing GAP SBN! Enjoy a fresh, local lunch from the Lucky Dog Cafe.

Whether you’ve already implemented sustainable business practices, or are wondering what “going green” is all about and how it can help your business we hope you’ll be a part of the conversation about these new opportunities can boost business and create a unique experience for users of the Great Allegheny Passage.

(For more details on the Summit, see earlier post)

For questions or to REGISTER call (724) 603-3151 or e-mail

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Exciting Event – Sustainability Summit

Join the Trail Town Program for a great KICK-OFF EVENT for the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network!

We are hosting a half-day summit on Wednesday, November 18, from 10:00am – 2:30pm.

No matter where you are in the process of making more sustainable choices for your business— whether you’re thinking about ways to save money, wondering what “sustainability” is all about and how it affects you, recycling or composting, or making even bigger changes— we hope to see you there.

At the summit we’ll…

  • Meet Eric Martin of Wilderness Voyageurs who will give a quick intro and talk about why he’s signing his businesses on to the program
  • Hear from Mike Dreisbach of Savage River Lodge about his impressive greening efforts, and the money he saves as a result
  • Discuss the SBN program and also give a brief demonstration on the FREE sustainability assessments that we offer
  • Walk or carpool to Lucky Dog Café for a fresh, local lunch
  • Visit the Confluence Cyclery to check out their energy efficient HVAC system and weatherization efforts
  • Hand out FREE CFL light bulbs to participating businesses
  • Give practical, economically AND environmentally sound solutions for running your business
  • Network and brainstorm with other Trail Town businesses interested in sustainable business practices

The cost to attend is $10 and covers lunch. Please register with the Trail Town Outreach Corps by November 13. Call (724) 603-3151 or email

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Up on the roof

This article entitled, “Where does your garden grow?” from MSN City Guides discusses the growing practice of restaurants using previously wasted roof space to grow fresh produce to serve in their businesses. While many of these restaurants are located in urban areas, the idea is inspired for all locales. Growing your own produce on your roof or in your backyard to serve in your Trail Town restaurant or B&B can save you money and attract customers interested in the “farm to table” connection and a unique dining experience along the Great Allegheny Passage.

These home-grown solutions to produce procurement save these restaurateurs anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars per growing season, plus they can grow themselves special ingredients that may be more difficult to find. One chef says it’s great for the environment (stormwater that would usually end up running off the roof and flooding the sewer system is used to water plants), a stress reliever for busy employees who spend a few minutes outside tending the garden or gathering its bounty here and there, and customers enjoy knowing their food was grown on-site. While it may seem more time consuming to grow your own herbs and veggies, almost all of the chefs report that the stress relief associated with working in the garden for a short time each day is very beneficial.

For more from these entrepreneurs in their own words and pictures, read the article. And follow the links for more on rooftop gardens and green roofs in general. As a special bonus, check out these photos from rooftop gardens all over the world.

What do you think?

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