Category Archives: Creative re-use

Sustainable Business Suggestions

One man gathers what another man spills. Some organic farms have started to pick up on money saving strategies such as collecting designated scraps from local restaurants, and adding them to their compost. In this mutually beneficial relationship, the business saves on their garbage bill, and the farm gets free compost. In the way that nature’s living organisms play off of each other in an ecosystem, this is the most fundamental form of sustainability.

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Filed under Business, Buy Local, Creative re-use, recycle, Reduce, Restaurants

Homemade Body Lotion: Green and Cost Effective Alternative

By this point in the Sustainable Business Network game, I’m sure you’ve already swapped your old light bulbs for CFLs, stopped using Styrofoam and maybe started biking to work.

…So kudos to you, and all alike, but why stop with your business?

It should be pretty clear that sustainability starts at home, down to the very basics: like cleaning supplies and personal care products such as body moisturizer.

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March 23, 2012 · 11:04 am

Greening the Built Environment

Rethinking Green Building – Using Historic Preservation
“Green & LEED Certified” buildings are making headlines these days for being the most environmentally friendly buildings to be constructed in the 21st Century. This is a true, but have you ever heard the phrase “The greenest building is one that already exists.” Yes, older and historic buildings hold value in both their histories and their craftsmanship, but also in their ability to find adaptive reuse or environmentally conscious improvements. Many may believe that demolition of older buildings for the construction of new, green buildings will have better results. But actually demolition of the built environment has a greater impact. The energy and materials that are demolished only add to gas emissions and landfills. Historic structures can be reused with the same tools(solar panels, tank-less water heaters, etc) just as new green buildings are. We recycle paper, plastic, aluminum – why not buildings?

You can learn more about how historic preservation is sustainable checkout the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website:http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability/position-statements/sustainability.html

For a great example in Downtown Pittsburgh checkout Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation’s (PHLF) work in Market Square: http://www.phlf.org/marketatfifth/market-at-fifth-green-preservation

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Reuse with Freecycle

Checkout http://www.freecycle.org 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, http://quickbase.intuit.com/freecycle 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

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Paper in the Office

Reducing paper use, and reusing and recycling paper will not only save your business money, but will also reduce your businesses environmental footprint.

Approximately 7 million hectares of forests are destroyed a year and 80% of the world’s original forests are gone. In addition to accelerating major losses of biodiversity, deforestation is a culprit of climate change, destroying valuable carbon sinks and releasing carbon dioxide into the air when the wood is burned for fuel or decomposes.
As a business there are many steps you can take to decrease the burden that paper production has on forests and to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions attributed to deforestation and paper production.
As the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle suggests, the first step to reducing your environmental footprint is to reduce the amount of paper used at your office. Follow these tips to reduce paper use:
•Pay bills online.
o Visit the website associated with the business or company that bills you, and you will find a paperless billing option.
•Stop junk mail.
o Return first-class mail to sender. Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage and write “refused: return to sender.”
o You can stop mail from the following credit agencies, Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis by calling 1-888-5 OPT OUT (or 1-888-567-8688) 24 hours a day. Most mail you receive will have an 800 number listed. Call and simply request to be removed from the mailing list.
•Before you print, use print preview.
•Print double sided.
o Under printing properties, choose double-sided or duplex option.
o For printers that require manual duplexing, print the odd pages first, flip (with the back of the first page on top) and print even pages.
•Narrow margins and single space on every document possible.
•Email agendas rather than printing.
•Bookmark webpages instead of printing.
•Share a master-copy of hard documents.
•Edit papers on the computer rather than printing and editing.
•Use emails to send announcements and newsletters.
•Send and receive faxes via personal computers to avoid printing.
•Eliminate cover and divider pages.
•Keep electronic records.
•Rather than using paper dining products (cups, plates, napkins, and paper towels) invest in dishware and cloth napkins.

As you probably guessed, reuse comes next. There are a few easy ways to reuse paper in your office:
•Use paper that has only been printed on a single side as scratch and note paper.
o Collect these partially used papers in a clip-board or bind them to create a notebook.
•Reuse folders and binders. Label in pencil or white out old labels.

Finally, recycle, recycle, recycle.
According to the EPA, recycling one ton of paper would save enough energy to power the average American home for six months, save 7,000 gallons of water, and save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
The EPA also reports that recycling paper instead of making it from new material generates 74% less air pollution.

•Set up a paper recycling station in your office.
o Next to the printer makes recycling easy, although don’t forget to reuse paper that has only been printed on one side.
•If your office does not recycle paper, check to see if there is a paper-retriver bin nearby: http://www.paperretriever.com/. If there is no bin nearby, consider being the sponsor of a bin, which could earn your organization money.
•Purchase recycled paper products such as office paper, toilet-paper, paper-towels, napkins, plates, etc.
o Optimally, your office should purchase 100% post-consumer recycled paper products.

Finally, use the paper calculator (http://www.edf.org/papercalculator/), to calculate environmental savings resulting from your paper purchasing choices.

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

Get paid for your trash!

Many of the items we use on a daily basis produce a large amount of waste.  Much of our trash comes from food and beverage containers.  You eat a bag of chips, and then that bag sits in a landfill for years.  Other common sources of trash include school and office supplies, small electronics, and shipping materials.  However, there are ways to actually make money from items that normally go straight into the trash.

Here are five types of items that you can get paid to get rid of in an environmentally friendly way.

1.        Food and beverage containers

Within the last few years, a new company known as TerraCycle has found a creative way to reuse candy wrappers, chip bags, beverage containers, and even wine corks.  They take in these types of trash and then turn them into useable products, such as school and office supplies.  The best part is, TerraCycle will pay you for your trash.  By registering your organization (usually a school, scout troop, or non-profit), you can begin to keep track of what you send to the company.  The price is usually $0.02 per piece of trash, but it all adds up to help produce less trash and raise money for local schools or charities.

For more information, visit http://www.terracycle.net

 

2.       Cardboard

Businesses that ship and receive lots of items end up with lots of boxes to deal with.  They can be recycled normally, but unfortunately such facilities are not always available, or easy to take your cardboard to.  For businesses with a large amount of cardboard, a web-based company will actually pay you for your used shipping boxes.  They require loads of at least 5,000 boxes, but they will work with the business to arrange pickups and payment.

For more information, visit http://www.usedcardboardboxes.com

 

3.       Appliances

If you have appliances that are still useable, they can always be donated to organizations such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Often, donating any items (not just appliances) can get you a tax write-off, so you save money at the end of the year.  But if they are broken, large appliances can be sold for scrap metal.  Contact your local junkyard or metal recycler for more information and prices.

 

4.       Ink Cartridges

Offices, schools, and even households can go through quite a number of ink cartridges in a year.  Not only are they costly to replace, they contain plastics and many chemicals that are best not thrown into a landfill.  Thankfully there are ways to get paid for your old ink and toner cartridges.  Some companies refill them and then sell the refurbished cartridges for cheaper than new ones.  Others recycle the entire cartridge.  A quick search online will bring you to many companies that will pay you anywhere from a few cents to several dollars per used ink cartridges.  Check to find a local company, or shop around to see which service fits your needs best.

 

5.       Sports Equipment

Spring is finally here, and soon we’ll all be heading to the track, field, court, or diamond on our days off and weekends.  If it’s time for a new racket or bat, some stores exist that will let you trade in old items for a discount on new ones.  The company Play It Again Sports has locations across the country, including right here in Southwest PA.

For old athletic shoes, Nike runs a program called Reuse-A-Shoe.  You can donate your old shoes, which will be ground up and used to back the rubber for running tracks, padding under tennis courts, and a variety of other uses.  Individuals and send their old shoes in to be recycled.  Local schools, gyms, and other groups looking for a new athletic surface can research how to get one made from recycled shoes.

For more information, visit http://www.playitagainsports.com

And for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, visit http://www.nikereuseashoe.com

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Al Gore + Martha Stewart = Sustainable Exterior Design

We’d like to follow up on our recent “Ivy on Brick:  Insulating Your Building” post from July 12th, 2010, which provides links explaining how ivy can insulate a building in winter and keep it cooler in summer.

Despite articles suggesting otherwise, some folks are still concerned that ivy tears a brick wall apart over time.  Of particular worry is that certain types of ivy stick to the brick and will take down pieces of the wall when removed.

Instead of dismissing this form of natural insulation entirely, consider an alternative:  green curtains! Green curtains are made by leaning a large trellis against your building wall, upon which ivy will grow.  The ivy is planted in pots above or below and trained to grow on the trellising.

In Japan, where this structure is growing in popularity, certain green curtains also include food crops.  Picture a hundred cucumbers hanging casually against your wall, blowing in the breeze…

These curtains seem to be fashionable furnishings draping the (double-paned) windows of opportunity… Any thoughts?

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