Category Archives: Outdoor/Bicycle Outfitters

Stay Sustainable in the Summer

The cold weather has finally given away to warm, if not hot days, and we are all aching to get out of the office to spend time outdoors!  Read on to find out how to make your summer more sustainable.

Sustainable Vacations

With gas prices up and the economy still down, plan a low impact, high quality summer vacation.  Vacation locally and save time, save gas money, and reduce carbon emissions.

  1. Spend the week on the Great Allegheny Passage, riding from Pittsburgh to Cumberland.  If you are adventurous, continue from Cumberland to D.C. on the C&O Canal Towpath.  Visit www.atatrail.org for trip planning suggestions.
  2. Spend a weekend or a week hiking and backpacking on the Laurel Highlands Trail.  This 70 mile trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to near Johnstown.  Visit the Laurel Ridge State Park website for more information: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/laurelridge.aspx.
  3. Explore Pennsylvania State Parks.  Camp or stay in cabins during the night and hike, swim, fish, and relax in beautiful Pennsylvania during the day.  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/index.aspx

Whether you are spending a lot of time outside or you serve customers that are visiting our region to enjoy the natural wonders here, you can use these tips to promote sustainable lifestyles.

From a personal perspective:

  1. STAY HYDRATED THE SUSTAINABLE WAY Use refillable water bottles.  Bottled water costs about 2000 times as much as tap water.  Bottled water is not safer to drink than tap water.  The EPA strictly regulates tap water quality under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The FDA regulates bottled water, yet cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting.  In addition companies are not forced to disclose where the water they bottle comes from.  http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater
  2. BUY LOCAL Farmers’ markets are starting up for the summer.  Buy locally produced and grown foods this summer.  Local, fresh produce tastes amazing and is energy and resource efficient.  Most produce grown in the US is shipped an average of 1500 miles before being sold.  Produce grown in other countries is shipped even further.  Buying local will reduce the energy use attributed to shipping and will help build local economies.  If you live in Fayette County, get a Buy Local card and receive discounts at local stores.  You can also save $5 at Fayette County farmers’ markets if you are one of the first 20 people to arrive.  http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp                                 http://www.faypenn.org/economy.jsp?pageId=2161392210281306139485965
  3. WATER EARLY OR LATE  Water your plants in the early morning or the late afternoon to reduce the amount of water that evaporates on these hot summer days.

From a business perspective:

  1. Offer customers to fill up reusable water bottles in your sink.
  2. Encourage customers to buy/use reusable bags rather than just giving them a plastic bag.  Consider charging for bags like companies such as Aldi.
  3. Promote local farmers’ markets to customers.
  4. Invite customers to dispose of any packaging from purchases in your store so they are not tempted to litter.  Recycle what can be recycled.
  5. If you sell food, buy locally produced and grown food.  See above for advantages.
  6. WALK, BIKE, OR CARPOOL Enjoy the nice weather or the company of a co-worker, and use alternative transportation to get to work.  Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce tropospheric ozone pollution (formed when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from car exhaust interacts with sunlight).  http://instaar.colorado.edu/outreach/ozone-oceans/ozone.html

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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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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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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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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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“Everybody Can Do Something”: Sustainability Summit Recap

On November 18 the Trail Town Outreach Corps and the Trail Town Program hosted a Sustainability Summit to kick-off the GAP SBN. With a packed agenda the Summit offered business owners information on joining the network, how to get a free sustainability assessment and real-world practical advice and anecdotes from fellow business owners who have successfully implemented sustainable practices and seen the benefits of doing so. Over the course of the day, an unofficial theme emerged from our three speakers: Whether changes are big or small, zero-cost to higher-reach, everybody can do something for sustainability.

After a warm welcome from Cathy McCollom, director of the Trail Town Program (and fair-trade coffee from Reilly’s Best in Ohiopyle) Eric Martin of Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle started things off with a compelling and candid presentation about the challenges and successes his operations have experienced. Being in the business of “eco-travel,” over the past nine years he has been incorporating sustainable practices at his rafting company, retail store, Falls City Pub, and the Trillium Lodge as much as possible. As he sees it, sustainability is “not just for hippies anymore.” While encouraging, Eric was also realistic about the hurdles he and his employees have faced (ineffective local recycling options, an abundance of rafting equipment made from petroleum products, etc.). He stressed that sustainability does not mean a lower level of service, in fact, it’s about making smart business decisions that don’t cost a lot and often even save  money. Specifically, sourcing materials locally for building, lighting a bath house with passive solar methods (not a single lightbulb was used!), reusing scrap materials, recycling and making bio-diesel saves resources and money. For other initiatives like using “Greenware” biodegradable cups, the extra investment is worth it for the customer engagement, interest and appreciation. By getting a little creative, “rethinking the process” and engaging his employees and customers in the process he continues to expand his sustainable practices and create a unique brand identity for his businesses and experience for his customers.

Up next was Mike Dreisbach (a self-proclaimed hippie) of the Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, MD. Since opening the Lodge with his wife Jan over 10 years ago, working with nature has always been a guiding principle behind all of their business decisions. From building with the contours of the land (and in the process cutting down fewer trees, which in turn shades the cabins, negating the need to spend money on air conditioning), to repurposing a huge array of materials on the property (a military bridge as an exciting entrance to the Lodge, discarded wooden docks became bridges for trails, fryer grease finds new utility as biodiesel), resource conservation (cloth hand towels and napkins, optional freshening service, rain barrels for watering plants, water in ziploc bags above doors to deter flies) and sourcing food for the restaurant locally (from Amish farmers and home-grown herbs) and much more… Mike estimates that his practices, which admittedly take a little bit more elbow grease, saves him over $45,000 annually. Mike echoes Eric’s sentiments about customer satisfaction and engagement saying that his practices create new business opportunities and new markets; people come to the Lodge again and again because of its commitment to sustainability and are willing to pay for it. While the accomplishments of the SRL may seem intimidating, Mike reminds us to start small. The impressive achievements at the Savage River Lodge have taken over 10 years to implement.

Before lunch we discussed the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network and how to join. Explore this site more for details on the GAP SBN or contact us (mwyman@progressfund.org) for an application.

Midday we were nourished by a fresh, local lunch from the Lucky Dog Cafe who also implements sustainable practices like using local produce, antiobiotic/hormone-free/free-range meat and making biodiesel.

After lunch we heard from the Trail Town Outreach Corps about the FREE sustainability assessments they offer to businesses. The assessments are conducted in six categories (waste, water, appliances and office equipment, HVAC, lighting and beyond the building)  and are designed to help you identify ways to reduce energy and resource consumption and save money. The assessments can be tailored to suit the needs and concerns of individual businesses. Contact Elisa Mayes, Trail Town Outreach Corps Project Leader for more information or to schedule an assessment at emayes@thesca.org.

Simultaneously, Brad Smith, owner of the Confluence Cyclery offered tours of his bike shop, a historic building on the town green which he has renovated with utmost attention to environmental sensitivity and energy efficiency. Starting from the ground up he and his wife Maureen revamped an energy nightmare into a sunny, warm and attractive storefront. They installed radiant floor heating, an extremely efficient system complete with a double furnace. They worked with a local plumber with little knowledge of this type of renovation to design the system, increasing community connections and valuable skills for this young plumber. They uncovered the transom windows for better circulation with the added benefit of daylighting in their retail space, eliminating the need for air conditioning and excessive lighting costs. For insulation of this older brick structure, they used blow-in foam insulation. In the bathrooms they installed an on-demand hot water heater and a waterless urinal in the men’s room. While the costs were initially expensive, Brad and Maureen believe that their investments will pay off in the long run.

At the day’s end Elisa  left us with these inspiring thoughts from Albert Einstein: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” Thanks to all the businesses who attended for leading the way in creating a new story and a sustainable future along the Great Allegheny Passage. Remember that there is incredible knowledge among your fellow business owners and look to them as a resource when you have questions about sustainability, from eco-friendly insulation to local produce to green cleaning supplies, “the wisdom is in the room,” so to speak. The summit provided a great day of information sharing and networking, but it shouldn’t stop there. Keep the inspiration and conversation flowing. That is what the GAP SBN is all about! You can start by posting your comments below!

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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 emayes@thesca.org.

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