Category Archives: Restaurants

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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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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Al Gore + Martha Stewart = Sustainable Exterior Design

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?

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Blue Star Refreshments Earns Blue Ribbon for Green Mantra

Blue Star Refreshments, a catering service for offices in Silicon Valley of San Jose, California, is an atypical business venture for a number of reasons, highlighted below.  For these tasks, Blue Star received the Better Business Bureau Santa Clara County Green Business CoolCalifornia.org award.

1.  This business provides sustainable consulting to clients in addition to delivering (fresh, healthy) food.

2.  This business has helped customers cut back on energy costs by retrofitting the conventional vending machine design.  The Blue Star version of a vending machine includes LED lighting, a sensor that can inform the stocking company remotely that the machine needs to be filled (thereby greatly reducing labor and gas costs by eliminating routine check-ups), and use of the VendingMiser® technology.  This technology powers down the vending machine when traffic is reduced, monitors the room’s temperature to consume the least amount of energy necessary, and automatically re-powers the cooling system at one to three hour intervals to ensure the product stays cold.

3.  This business practices what it preaches by implementing the following “Climate Friendly Actions,” according to the CoolCalifornia.org case study:

  •  Using service vehicles that run on B99 biodiesel• Utilizing a pallet and packaging recycling program
    • Retrofitting old equipment with energy 

    saving technologies free of charge to customers

• Promoting Vendmiser and Coolermiser cooling Technologies in all implementations
• Retrofitting LED lights in vending machines to reduce energy consumption and increase life span
• Implementing route scheduling system which reduce time and transport expenses by 20%
• Conserving water by use of low flow toilets and washing delivery trucks 50% less
• Providing biodegradable utensils, cups, bowls and plates, napkins and paper towels for catering• Promoting bulk snack program to reduce individually- packaged snacks
   How does this relate to your business?

While you don’t have to formally market a sustainable product, or act as a professional green consultant for the customers you serve, your role as a green business owner encompasses education and outreach.

Consider discussing energy saving options with a business next door, and encourage them to join the Sustainable Business Network.  Recommend EnergyStar appliances or “green” techniques that have worked for you.

Place signs all throughout your store or restaurant informing customers of your sustainable practices.  Or feature these qualities on your website for customers researching their bike trip online.  They may choose your business because you are greener!!

Spreading the word is as easy as having a conversation:  in person, on the phone, online…  Because really, that’s how this information is best discussed. 

We hope you’re boasting about your green practices, because they are definitely something to be proud of!  Keep up the good work and keep on reaching for that blue ribbon standard.

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BUY LOCAL Network Kicks Off!

Earth Day, April 22nd, brought with it an exciting announcement from the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council:  the Buy Local Network for all businesses in Fayette County is now officially operating! Bob Junk and Jessica Steimer of Fay-Penn, and Val J. Laub of the Herald Standard, presented the material at an outdoor press conference in Connellsville’s Yough Park.

The program unites local, independently-owned businesses of varying types and sizes in an overarching network of discounts and incentives to encourage customers to choose local stores over generic, big-box chains.  “This is a new approach to an old concept of one another in the community supporting local businesses,” Laub said.

Buying in the neighborhood recirculates community dollars three-fold, and often supports agriculture and manufacturing in the region as opposed to halfway around the world.  That’s a heck of a carbon footprint reduction for each dollar spent.

Customers present a Buy Local card at participating businesses, in order to receive product discounts and the chance to enter monthly raffles to win goods from Buy Local Network businesses.

To join the network, businesses commit to these discounts (upwards of $25) while also donating monthly to a community reinvestment fund (upwards of $10); community groups can then apply for this funding through any business involved in the Buy Local Network.

Fay-Penn covers promotions, advertising, and card distribution – a business simply has to buy-in, put up the Buy Local window cling, and begin accepting card-bearing customers!

As with any network, its strength is in the number of businesses engaged. If you’re considering how to connect with your community in a multitude of ways, joining this program is an effective move.

Already 60 + businesses are engaged and thousands of cards distributed.  Fay-Penn works closely with the Herald Standard to circulate Buy Local announcements and updates.

Contact jessicas@faypenn.org to find out more about joining the network.  A possibility for the network to extend into other counties may exist in the future, so stay tuned if your business lies outside of Fayette County…

Click here for a full article highlighting the program.

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Just our (Irish) luck! A Perfect Holiday to Advertise Your “Green-ness”

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…

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