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?
Inviting local artists to showcase their work in your establishment supports community art and helps you keep decorating costs low.
Please use this forum space to air your ideas about:
– Improving the aesthetic of your business in a sustainable way
– Artists who have influenced your decor
– Your interest in hosting local artwork
– Your challenges/successes with facade design
– Creative re-use of materials
(To participate in the forum, please describe your business-type and location with your initial comment. This will help to provide a context for your comments.)
When it comes to “being sustainable,” it doesn’t hurt to think creatively about your business mission. Or about your business ambience!
How exactly can your business spruce up its interior and/or exterior in an environmentally-friendly way?
PAINT. ART. VISION.
Renewal through Reuse and Restoration
Everyone has ’em: those half-empty, dust-collecting cans of paint lurking in your basement might be just the ticket to spruce up your storefront, fence posts or benches on your property, or borders and trim inside your store. Re-use trumps “responsible disposal,” and you can’t beat the price of FREE.
Or, look into a VOC-free paint supplier like Green Planet Paints, a company producing non-petroleum based paint free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Visiting sites like Freecycle.org, and seasonal flee markets and garage sales, increases your chances of finding furniture and fixtures at a cheap price. With a bit of care, antique infrastructure adds character to your business ambience and proves functional at the same time!
Old cloth and sheets may prove useful as drapes and wall coverings, improving insulation, blocking out blinding sun, and offering a more comfortable feel to shops and restaurants.
Community murals flanking businesses and vacant lots in the Trail Towns add color and character to an otherwise unnoticed spot; they evoke town pride and vision. Artist Carolyn Quinn worked in Meyersdale to create an extensive mural depicting Meyersdale heritage. Consider approaching a local artist to design a collage for your community. Public art often draws the attention of passersby, which could mean improved sales for your business!
In addition, local artwork doesn’t travel hundreds of miles to keep your business furnished and festive. Turning bare walls into a mini-gallery supports the arts in your community and usually involves a partnership free of price tags. A neighborhood coffee shop in Pittsburgh called “Make Your Mark” highlights local artists on its walls and in a gallery above the dining space, as well as offering the occasional art class and live musical concert.
Check out this blog about sustainable interior design to read more ideas. Maximize your business flair… you’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to creative re-use and local design!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Bless our hearts, there is at least one day a year when everyone wants to celebrate all that is green! St. Patrick was a saint in the 5th century who used a (green) shamrock to explain the trinity in his religious teachings. And due to the lush landscape of the Emerald Isles and Ireland’s beautiful natural scenery, green became synonymous with Ireland, eventually representing an immigrant Irish voting block (the Green Party) that U.S. political candidates attempted to win over in American elections starting in the 1850’s.
Why mention the history of this festive occasion? Before you kick back with a strong stout at your favorite pub, break Lent for the afternoon, or attend your local parade, it’s worth considering the symbolism and meaning behind the color green.
Any day of the year, what does it mean to be green? How can a business re-invigorate this color to stand for firm commitments and market choices, without falling prey to the “greenwashing” trend overtaking the commercial world?
In 2004, Office Depot used this holiday to introduce a number of new “green” products to its stores, improving its website with recycling tips for the home and office, and clearly labeling the recycled content of its stock.
And this year, the Sierra Club offers a suggestion (to bars as well as to individuals) that “green brews” are available – enjoying local microbrews reduces energy burned on shipping and oftentimes organic beers match their competition in flavor and price.
Have any nifty marketing tips to rake in the Leprechaun gold?? That is, will your business celebrate the holiday by providing discounts or deals for customers who support your green efforts in some way?
Or maybe you can use this holiday simply as an excuse to talk about the conservation efforts of your business, for all the town to see, like a rainbow in the sky…