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.
Category Archives: Creative re-use
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.
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
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
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
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
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?