KAB Recognizes Other Emerging Businesses in Sustainability Part 4

By Cindy Pantea

summit of sustainability logoIn this post, Keep Akron Beautiful-Greenprint for Akron recognizes the sustainable practices of two more Summit County businesses who applied for the 2012 Summit of Sustainability Awards. Read about Goodwill Industries of Akron and SGS Tool of Munroe Falls and get inspired…

Goodwill Industries of Akron (nonprofit): For 85 years Goodwill has been a community source for those who wish to reuse, repurpose and recycle. Meanwhile, at Goodwill Industries of Akron in particular, they’ve continued to evolve through the years by seeking out more sustainable options for their business. In doing so their efforts have:

  • Used energy-efficiency grant matching funds and rebates to help retrofit their existing building saving $40,000 in light energy the first full year and increasing their HVAC efficiency rating from 60% to a 92% (based on 2010-2011 numbers).
  • Recycled approximately 7,600,000 pounds of material not sold in stores through its salvage programs (based on year-end 2011 numbers).
  • Recycled 535,753 pounds of computer equipment not sold in stores through the Dell Reconnect program (based on year-end 2011 numbers).
  • Resold, reused or recycled over 95% of all donations (based on year-end 2011 numbers).
  • Educated their Facilities Department employees on sustainability and as a result they continue to research best cleaner choices and have succeeded in cutting down their lighting usage simply by switching their cleaning function from night to daylight hours – these efforts saved $10,000 within the last year.
  • Encouraged paper and plastic recycling and energy efficiency (light usage) within the office.
  • Reduced paper waste by regularly updating mailing lists.
  • Reduced greenhouse gases and fuel consumption by keeping donations local, having local one distribution center, and having most stores be conveniently located on a bus line for customers.
  • Given back to the community – for every $1.00 that is spent in a Goodwill Store, $0.88 goes back into the community, helping people find jobs. In 2011, this amount of money helped to train over 7,263 people for the workplace and helped to place 517 people in jobs. This is Goodwill’s true mission, and the retail stores are just one way to fund it.

SGS Tool Company (small business): This Munroe Falls business is and has been committed to lessening their impact on the environment. Here’s how:

  • In conjunction with FirstEnergy, replaced existing light fixtures with new energy efficient fixtures at two facilities in 2012.
  • In 2012, they exchanged plastic packing material for paper at both the world headquarters in Munroe Falls, OH and the manufacturing site in the U.K.
  • Worked with River Valley Paper Company to begin recycling cardboard in June 2011 and by December 2011, they went from recycling less than 500 lbs. to nearly 2,500 lbs. – they’ve now successfully implemented a cardboard recycling program at all six facilities in 2012.
  • Worked with the Summit Akron Solid Waste Management Authority, SGA locations recycled over 22,000 lbs. of paper in 2011.
  • They’ve continued to recycle toner through Staples and electronics and batteries through Itran.
  • Used top-of-the-line filter systems, centrigugal systems and Transor systems to reduce both old oil disposal costs and filter cartridge disposal.
  • Given back to the community – SGS Associates and family members annually volunteer at Munroe Falls Metro Park in April in honor of Earth Day.

Thank you to both Goodwill of Akron and SGS Tool for looking to the future and continually researching and implementing new sustainable business practices.

How does your business sustainability measure up? Will you be ready for the 2013 Summit of Sustainability Awards? Learn more about business sustainability by visiting The Summit of Sustainability YouTube Channel.

Real Christmas Trees: The Environmental Choice

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Celebrating the holiday season with a Real Christmas Tree is a long-standing tradition. Each year, 30 to 35 million American families celebrate the holiday season with a fresh, farm-grown Christmas Tree. Christmas Tree enthusiasts believe the aroma of a Real Christmas Tree is a strong reminder and symbol of life, family traditions and the innocence of childhood itself.  A farm-grown Christmas Tree provides food for the soul, for many people!

For my family, the real versus artificial Christmas Tree debate seems to replay itself each year.  “Should we get a real tree?” or “Should we just put up the artificial one?” — these are the questions we hear over and over at my house. But, as I do my research, it seems to me that the real Christmas Tree is the environmental choice!

For those of you artificial tree-lovers out there, why do you always put up the artificial tree? I know in my family, GUILT happens to be the reason my parents usually put up their artificial Christmas Tree. My mom feels guilty cutting down a new tree each year, however, this year, I may be able to persuade her into getting a real tree after doing some research and finding out that real trees are truly more sustainable and environmentally safe than the artificial option.

Things to consider when making your decision are:

  • While they are growing, Real Christmas Trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen.
  • Real Christmas Trees are grown on a farm, just like any other crop. Harvesting a Christmas Tree is no more damaging to the environment than harvesting vegetables!
  •  According to the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, for every real Christmas tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in it’s place the following spring. The seedling planting helps to ensure a healthy supply of Christmas Trees each year.
  • The average family uses an artificial Christmas Tree for six to nine years before throwing it away, where it will remain in a landfill for centuries after disposal.
  •  Farm-grown trees are biodegradable  which means they can be used or recycled for many other purposes.
  • The polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in most artificial trees has been boycotted by environmental and health groups.
  • American Forests, a world leader in tree planting for environmental restoration, has publicly endorsed the commercial growing and use of farm-grown Christmas Trees.
If you are interested in finding a real Christmas tree, but don’t know where the nearest tree farm is, head over to The Ohio Christmas Tree Association to search for the nearest tree farm, by your zip code. Most of the real Christmas Trees are now being recycled at the end of the season in a process called “treecycling”. To learn more about recycling your Christmas Tree, visit the National Christmas Tree Association.
Happy Holidays to you and your family from the staff at Keep Akron Beautiful! Obviously, real trees top our charts this year. We hope that you will go ‘green’ this season and buy a real Christmas Tree. They may shed needles on the floor, but investing in this U.S. based product and helping to keep many local farmers in business is an ‘A’ in our book!

KAB Recognizes Other Emerging Businesses in Sustainability Part 3

by Cindy Pantea

KAB_CPtweets retweet of the EPA: Feed people not landfillsI retweeted the Environmental Protection Agency the other day and at the same time thought that the day before Thanksgiving would be a perfect time to release this post on the food service businesses who were applicants for The Summit of Sustainability Awards. While they did not win their small business category, the efforts should be recognized so that the practices can be started by not only other food service entities but also maybe ourselves…

Ms. Julie’s Kitchen – It’s all about sustainability with this vegan restaurant. Not only does the business reduce food miles through the use of local produce as well as growing hard-to-get produce herself, Ms. Julie’s Kitchen also composts 15-5 gallon pales of food scraps each week to make the best soil for inner-city growing. Owner Julie Costell’s work brings healthy living to Akron – mind, body and soul, as she has joined forces with Truly Reaching You Ministries (T.R.Y.), and Janet Paul, Summit County Women’s Chaplain, to offer a strong set of support services for ex-felons. While the women help take care of tasks on the farm, the men focus on physical labor. At Ms. Julie’s Kitchen, the women do food prep. All of this offers these folks not only a peaceful transition back into society but also helps them learn about both healthy food and healthy lifestyles. Costell also sells at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers Market and wants to be a part of the local Cornerstore Project, which seeks to make healthy, fresh produce available at places in Akron that might not normally offer the best food choices.

Main Street Gourmet (MSG) – With all their employees exposed to the company’s emphasis of going green, they have accomplished energy savings by replacing high-intensity light bulbs with more economical fluorescent bulbs, upgrading existing fluorescent bulbs to even more energy-efficient models, installing motion sensors to turn on lights only when people need them, and using visual aids in areas like the conference room that remind users to turn off lights when finished. That’s not all, through, MSG has accomplished significant waste reduction, too, actually keeping 80 tons of paper, plastic and metal out of local landfills through recycling efforts. These efforts have also reduced trash pick-ups from four dumpster loads per month to two! Funds generated from recycled materials have been used to pay for virtually the entire $12,000 cost of a baling machine they use to prepare items for recycling. On top of that, nearly all organic waste at the company, 500 pounds per week, is sent out for composting and eventually sold as fertilizer. They also had the great idea to provide their unused sugars, for a nominal fee, to some local beekeepers for use in their honey production, which not only recycles but also helps stimulate the local economy.

Red’s Place Buffet Express / New Adventures Early Learning Center – Red’s Gourmet Buffet Express and New Adventures Early Learning Center share the same business lot in Twinsburg, OH. Red’s Buffet also has two other remote locations. The two businesses got together in an organized effort to recycle at all four sites so that every environmental hazard had a place. For metals, recycling efforts were deposited to Decco Alloys. Paper and cardboard had their own depository. In addition, New Adventures recycles for their own playground soil and  socially promotes a green effect on their youth so it will leave a lasting impression.

Totally Cooked Catering – In October, this business announced that they were the only independent, full-service catering company in Summit County that composts and recycles all materials associated with its food service. With the help of Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA), they found a solution for composting food scraps and recycling bottle, cans, glass, cardboard and paper. To reduce the waste generated by its catering operations, Totally Cooked also offers completely compostable serviceware, including utensils.

West Point Market – The store has found two areas where eco-friendly alternatives are beneficial to the store both financially and ethically. These are: the changeover to light bulbs that help preserve energy and the initiation of a recycling program so that food waste is composted and leftover food is given to outreach programs. From the beginning of January 2012 to the end of June, West Point Market has composted 123,270 pounds of food.  That is over 60 tons of waste that is being converted into useful soil for the local agricultural use instead of being sent to a landfill. This has also cut down their dumpster pickup from two dumpsters per week to one.

Remember to feed people, not landfills. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB).

How to Make Your Own Paper

by Cindy Pantea

If you read Jacqui’s blog post on America Recycles Day about her visit to Case Elementary School in Akron, you learned that the students from Case made their own paper. Making your own paper is a fun activity and a great way to recycle on your own! Here is how the kids at Case made their own paper:

First, the students tore the paper in strips. They used newspaper, but you can use any type of old paper (used notebook paper, used typing paper, used envelopes).

Recycling: How to make paper - shred

Next, the students made pulp with small shreds of paper and some water. While some may use a mortar and pestle, these students used a blender and fed the paper in the top as it was whir-r-rling away!

Recycling: How to make paper - blend to make pulp

Then, the students poured the pulp over a framed screen that was in a pan of water.

Recycling: How to make paper - pour pulp on screen

Next, the students carefully lifted the screen out of the pan of water to let it air dry.

Recycling: How to make paper - lift screen of pulp

Finally, after the paper dried, the students carefully peeled the dried paper from the screen and voila…

Recycling: How to make paper - voila

THEY MADE PAPER!!!! And, you can too!

Want to learn more about the projects of Keep Akron Beautiful. Visit http://www.keepakronbeautiful.org/ and sign up for our free newsletter!