Category Archives: Resources

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: 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 (, to calculate environmental savings resulting from your paper purchasing choices.


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

Why Biodegradable Take-out Boxes and Cups Are the Way to Go

In a perfect world, we could all bring reusable food containers and coffee mugs every time we visited a restaurant or cafe. However, when we’re ordering takeout, we forget to bring our own containers with us, or if they’re just inconvenient to carry on the go, we often need to use disposable boxes and cups.

With biodegradable take-out containers cheaper than ever, now is a great time for restaurants and cafes to do away with Styrofoam and paper and to adopt greener alternatives. While these alternatives do cost more than the traditional Styrofoam and paper cups and containers, their additional cost is relatively marginal over the course of a business year.

Whereas Styrofoam cups cost $25 per 1000, biodegradable cups can cost as little as $100 for 1000. This means that if your business uses 1000 disposable cups a year, the additional cost would be only $75 per year, which is the amount of money you might make in a single business day. With take-out containers, the additional costs for biodegradables can be less than $140 a year, if your business goes through 1000 of them in that time span.

That’s all it would cost to help curb the use and disposal of Styrofoam, a product that takes a minimum of 20 generations (500 years) to biodegrade, was made using a nonrenewable resource (petroleum), and could potentially be ingested by animals when it inevitably breaks into small pieces.

Paper cups, in many cases, have even fewer redeemable qualities than Styrofoam, considering that they do not insulate heat nearly as well, take much more energy to produce, and cost well more than Styrofoam, at about $80 per 1000 units—which is only about $20 less than some biodegradable alternatives.

When the time it takes for many paper cups to decompose (over 20 years, if the cup is coated with wax) is factored in, paper looks even less attractive than Styrofoam from both an economic and environmental standpoint.

Thus, while large chain restaurants might save a substantial amount of money using traditional Styrofoam, paper, and plastic, small businesses can substantially reduce their environmental footprint with only a minor additional investment in biodegradable take-out boxes and cups.

Here are some resources that explain the economics and environmental impact of Styrofoam, paper, and plastic disposable containers:

And the following links provide a good sampling and explanation of some biodegradable alternatives:

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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


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


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

And for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, visit

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Filed under Creative re-use, how-to, recycle, Reduce, Resources, reuse

SB20 – The World’s Top Most Sustainable Business Stocks

Each year, Progressive Investor ranks the top 20 most sustainable businesses on the stock market.  Businesses chosen vary in size, location, and industry, though all are contributing to an environmentally-productive economy, according to an expert panel of environmental analysts.

Companies that perform a head above their counterparts in the following two categories qualify for the SB20:

Sustainability Criteria – Businesses have innovative performance models and/or are creating cutting edge green technologies.

Financial Criteria – Preferably profitable companies with strong management and balance sheets.  Each company would enhance a portfolio even if it is not in a buying position today.

View the SB20 from the past three years.

Progressive Investor also publishes ten issues a year highlighting these businesses in depth, as well as information on the following topics:

– News Highlights related to renewable energy, green building, private equity and our other
investment sectors
– Upcoming or recent IPOs, new mutual funds, ETFs
– Upcoming Investor Conferences
– Trends affecting green investing, such as China and green technology
– Stock Market Commentary as it relates to green investing
– Updates on stocks we cover
– Green company stock profiles
– Analyst Conversations on their outlook for the stock market or stock recommendations on
specific segments such as green building, thin film solar, batteries, investing in forests, etc.
– Comprehensive list of the most important green stocks with buy/hold/sell ratings & brief

Click here for subscription information.

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The New Economics of Place – Economic Development Through Form-Based Coding

A new Form-Based Codes webinar will soon be available!  The topic involves using transportation and well-developed streets to attract and sustain jobs and infrastructure.

Scott Polikov of Gateway Planning, who is leading the webinar, “played a key role in incorporating urban design criteria into the Texas roadway design manual. He serves on the boards of directors of the Congress for the New Urbanism and the National Civic League, and is an Associate of Neal Peirce’s CitiStates Group.”

The webinar begins Monday, December 13, 2010 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Click here for more information and to register.

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GAP SBN Annual Summit – Recap

Thanks to all businesses who attended the Trail Town Program meeting/GAP SBN Annual Summit on Thursday, October 27th, in Ohiopyle!

The meeting emphasized TTP business initiatives and honored Sustainable Business Network members for their involvement and dedication to sustainable practices.


Fueled by delicious cookies and coffee catered by Backyard Gardens (owned by SBN member Vicki Marietta), attendees discussed the following topics:

– Trail Town Ice Creams – a creamy sample of Gobble Berry donated by Sisters’ Cafe (operated by SBN members Lisa Hall and Deb Conn) in Confluence.  Some possibility of having a passport next year to encourage tasting at each Trail Town.

– The state of the Trail Towns represented.

– Ways to maximize trail usage, i.e. via business hospitality education programs, selling GAP merchandise, and improving trail safety.

– The GAP and Trail Town Program websites undergoing reconstruction.

– Creating a business cooperative: allowing businesses to buy in bulk to reduce overhead costs for sustainable materials.  i.e. construction materials, eco-containers, local produce, dairy, and meat.

– Update on the Sustainable Business Network, including information about goals, current membership, an upcoming website, and future objectives, i.e. getting all members to create an EnergyStar Portfolio Manager profile.


Following the meeting, attendees enjoyed a pasta buffet at Falls City Pub, operated by SBN members Eric and Kasia Martin.

The Trail Town Outreach Corps looks forward to this event for next year, with hopes that more members can join for an informative afternoon and an enjoyable evening!

GAP SBN Summit Notes October 27, 2010l

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Take advantage of the 2010 Small Business Advantage Grant Program

If you lose sleep at night over how to purchase energy-efficient and/or pollution prevention equipment for your business, fret no more!  The PA Department of Environmental Protection understands the burdensome costs associated with greening a business and allocates annual funding to benefit the small-business owner.

The funding cycle for this particular grant, the 2010 Small Business Advantage Grant, ends November 5th – so it’s not too late to apply, but time is limited for such lucrative awards.

According to the application information page:

“The Pennsylvania Small Business Advantage grant program provides 50 percent reimbursement matching grants, up to a maximum of $7,500, to enable Pennsylvania small businesses to adopt or acquire equipment or processes that promote energy efficiency or pollution prevention. Well-designed energy efficiency or pollution prevention projects can help small businesses cut operating costs and increase their competitiveness, while simultaneously protecting the environment.”

We especially like this grant because a business applying must register with the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to qualify.

Brief Note about the Energy Star Portfolio Manager:

If you haven’t taken a look at the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool yet, please spend 15 minutes investigating the Energy Star website.  The Portfolio Manager tracks the energy and water usage of your building(s) so that you can directly monitor your cost savings as you reduce energy and water use over time.

The other qualifying requirement to apply for the grant is proof of a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Vendor Registration.

Click here to apply for the program and/or learn more.

Please also contact the Trail Town Outreach Corps if you seek application assistance and/or intend to plan a grant application for next year.


Eligible Projects:

Energy Efficiency Pollution Prevention
Motor Controller Upgrades
Process Fluid Recycling/Reuse Systems
Water Conservation
Alternate Fuels or Heat Exchanger/Recirculating Systems
Recuperative & Regenerative Burners
Solvent Recovery Systems
Compressed Air System Upgrades
HVLP Spray Guns
Process Material Substitution
High Efficiency Lighting Systems
Paint Spray Booths
Dry-Cleaning Equipment Upgrades
Building Insulation or Air Sealing
Non-Solvent Parts Cleaning Systems
Dental Digital Radiography
Process Chiller/Boiler System
Closed Loop Vapor Degreasers
Truck-Auxiliary Power Units
General Process Upgrades

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