Category Archives: Reduce

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

Make sure you have a roof over your head – and double check that it’s green!

Green walls are the way to go!

To keep your business and home safe, you must put a roof over your head, but what about a green roof.  Over the last few years, green roofs and now green walls have been a trend in helping improve the environment as well as your business.  Adding a green roof to your business can also add new life to your community.  Literally! Green roofs create new gardens and ecosystems on places that one would never think to find growing produce or even a butterfly sanctuary. Green roofs are set up to help control rainwater, but also increase the diversity of the concrete jungle.  By definition, “green roofs are the result of a complete underlying roof build-up system, providing continuous, uninterrupted layers of protection and drainage.  Free drainage covers the entire roof surface, avoiding problems associated with walls and pillars built off a roof deck.” http://www.greenroofs.com/Greenroofs101/concept.htm

Investing in a green roof will help reduce the costs of your heating and cooling bills, reduce storm-water runoff, and bring new life to your building (both wildlife and new customers as well!).

In more recent years, green walls have been popping up on buildings in addition to roofs.  Green walls take the same concepts as roofs but make them vertical.  Both roofs and walls help insulate buildings for sound and remove pollutants from the air; making your business that much fresher! Depending on the size of your building, green walls also offer the opportunity to create artworks using various designs made out of natural green plant life.

Check out these sites for more info:

http://agreenroof.com/

http://greenroofs.org/index.php/about-green-roofs

http://www.greenroofs.com/

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Filed under Business, Green on the GAP, In the News, Reduce, Retailers, Triple bottom line

How to Make Your Event a Little “Greener”

How to Make Your Event a Little “Greener”

Whether you are having a family get-together or a community-wide event, there are ways to help you save money as well as save the planet in the long run. 

First off, invest in any reusable products – From plates to gloves to tablecloths to containers!  Do you often use plastic tablecloths to cover the tables at your picnic, monthly meetings, or special event?  Next time consider opting for a few fabric table coverings that you can simply wash each time. They will last for years, unlike plastic tablecloths that will last for decades in a trash dump.  The same goes reusable plates and silverware.  You may not want to use your good china or daily dinning ware, but perhaps you could buy a set of durable, reusable plates (usually a heavy plastic) and utensils that you can use and wash for the next time.  These make better options than Styrofoam and other disposables. 

Planning to do a clean-up in the community or even at your own home or business? Will you be using gloves to collect the litter and trash along the way?  Invest in garden gloves rather than latex/plastic versions.  Much like fabric tablecloths and heavy plastic plates, these gloves can be washed and reused each time instead of being tossed in the garbage.  In any case, it’s always best to find a way to reuse a product before recycling or even throwing something away. 

Another thing to consider in planning your event is your location.  If you can, hold your meeting or festival outside using natural light.  Another option would be to hold an event in a room with plenty of natural sunlight where you would need no or very little artificial lighting.  All of these options can reduce your overall energy usage. 

Now on to the food! Every picnic or meeting has to have something to snack on! Why not try creating an entire meal from local farmers markets and fresh produce vendors.  Supporting local farmers supports the local economy. Many of these vendors have organic choices to make your meal even greener!

Finally, make getting to your event more environmentally friendly.  Encourage friends and family to walk, bike, or even use public transportation to attend your “green” picnic, meeting, event, or festival! 

These tips are just a start to help your organization, business, and family make small differences with a big impact on both the environment and your wallet!

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Filed under Business, Buy Local, Green on the GAP, how-to, Local Food, recycle, Reduce, reuse, Triple bottom line

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

A new resource for energy-efficient applicances

With energy costs pushing up these days, many consumers have been looking to find even small ways to save money on their gas and electricity bills. Appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, televisions, computers, and dishwashers all use a lot of energy, and older models tend to be less energy-efficient than newer ones.

If your appliances are outdated, unreliable, and in need of being replaced (appliances tend to have a life span between 6 to 12 years), TopTenUSA is a good website to find the most efficient new appliances on the market and save money on your long-term energy costs. Free web-based rankings of the ten most energy-efficient appliances in a variety of categories are available on the TopTen USA website, along with pricing, specifications, local and online retail options, and personalized rebate information.

According to the Bryn Baker of the World Wildlife Foundation, “TopTen helps consumers make informed decisions on household products that can help fight climate change by reducing energy consumption, while saving money on electricity and gas bills.”

Baker continues: “Even small shifts in the products that consumers buy and use every day can produce a considerable impact: just a 10 percent shift in current sales to the most energy-efficient products could eliminate the release of nearly 3.5 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent gases each year, which is like taking 600,000 cars off the road. If all products used in the U.S. were TopTen ranked, the country would save over 270 million metric tons of CO2 and more than $46 billion dollars in energy costs over the product lifetimes. That would be like taking all the automobiles off the road in California, Florida, New York and Texas.”

TopTen functions similarly to Consumer Reports, as a non-profit organization that is independent and does not accept product samples or payments from manufacturers. The key criterion for listing is energy efficiency but, depending on the type of product, may also include environmental, health and safety concerns.

Norman L. Dean, the president of TopTen USA, says: “We’re spurring an upward spiral toward efficiency—the more consumers demand it, the more emphasis manufacturers will place on efficiency. Rather than copying technology to meet a standard, manufacturers will be innovating to be the best.

“We make it easy for consumers to find the most energy- and money-saving models, which in turn encourages manufacturing innovations that will make products in the United States even more energy-efficient. …TopTen USA intends to transform the American market from the one of excessive energy use to one that actively sustains products with the highest practical energy-efficiency.

“By doing so, TopTen USA helps tackle important issues such as climate change, pollution of the environment, the national security threat from our dependence on foreign oil supplies and high energy bills.”

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Filed under Business, Reduce, Resources, Triple bottom line

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