Category Archives: reuse

Easy (and Free) Ways to Go Green and Save Green

Go Green and Save GreenDoing things that are good for the environment does not have to mean shelling out a lot of your hard-earned money. In fact, you can save a lot of your money by helping the environment—and you won’t even need to spend a dime. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Replace your expensive chemical cleaners with your own homemade mixture of baking soda and vinegar. You’ll not only save money, but you and your loved ones won’t have to breathe in all those toxic fumes. Clean drains, sinks, ovens, floors, and more. See http://www.natural-healthy-home-cleaning-tips.com/vinegar_baking_soda_cleaning_recipes.htm for some tips.
  • Reduce junk mail while conserving trees by visiting CatalogChoice.org to stop unwanted catalogs from reaching your mail box. Also, most junk mail you receive will have an 800-number listed. Call and simply request to be removed from the mailing list.
  • Save your old coffee grinds—you can mix them into the soils of both your indoor and outdoor plants to make a great fertilizer. Also, water your plants with leftover coffee from the coffeepot; the coffee provides your plants with much-needed nitrogen.
  • Get an energy audit done on your home to find out where you could save money and be more energy-efficient. Some utility companies provide energy audits for free or at a discounted rate. To find an energy rater near you, visit http://www.resnet.us/trade/find-raters-auditors. Also, browse the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to find out what incentives and grants you could be qualified for to reduce your energy use. You can also perform an energy audit yourself—see http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/DIY-home-energy-audit.
  • Save an average of $90 a year on your electricity bills by shutting down your computer at night. If your computer takes a long time to start up and shut down, choosing the “Sleep” and “Hibernate” modes on your computer will save you time and are almost as good for your pocketbook as shutting down your computer entirely.
  • Use cold water when washing your clothes and linens to save $60-$100 a year on energy costs. 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating, and most loads do not need hot water to clean effectively. In situations where hot water is necessary, for example, to kill dust mites in bedding or to clean heavily soiled items, you can still use cold water in the rinse cycle.

For more information:

http://www.squidoo.com/easy-green-tips

http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/latest/green-tips-10-easiest

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/beat-the-heat-wash-in-cold.html

http://www.livescience.com/6082-energy-saving-tips.html

“Home Energy Checklist” from the U.S. Department of Energy: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware_hec.html

“Office Checklist” from the U.S. Department of Energy, for your small business: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware_oec.html

Image: Salvatore Vuono (http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659)

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Filed under Business, Green on the GAP, Resources, reuse, Triple bottom line

Two New Members!

The Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network welcomes its two newest members, ArtWorks Connellsville and El Canelo Mexican Restaurant, both prominent Connellsville businesses.

ArtWorks Connellsville sells a wide variety of regional artwork including jewelry, handmade soap, watercolor paintings, photography, handmade bowls, and more.  In addition, ArtWorks Connellsville holds a summer art camp for children ages 6-14.  ArtWoks Connellsville will also be the site of a Re-Create/Re-Use store opening in October.  The Re-Create/Re-Use store will collect items that would normally be discarded, such as fabric scraps, foam, and promotional items.  The Re-Create/Re-Use store will hold classes where students will learn about various artists and will use materials at the store to create art.

El Canelo Mexican Restaurant in Connellsville, PA serves local residents and is a destination for trail users.  The authentic cuisine offers a delicious selection for many dietary types, serving vegetarian and gluten free meals.  Service at El Canelo is hard to beat, with staff always going the extra mile to make dining there a pleasant experience. 

Next time you are in Connellsville, PA stop in at these two businesses to learn about their commitment to the Great Allegheny Passage and sustainability.

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Filed under Business, Green on the GAP, in Southwestern PA, Restaurants, reuse

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

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

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

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 http://www.terracycle.net

 

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 http://www.usedcardboardboxes.com

 

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 http://www.playitagainsports.com

And for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, visit http://www.nikereuseashoe.com

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