Video: The Summit of Sustainability Awards 2012 Keynote Speaker

by Cindy Pantea

Keep Akron Beautiful has been sharing with you the sustainability efforts of all the applicants of The Summit of Sustainability Awards (SOSA) 2012 for awhile now. We are so impressed with how these Akron businesses are doing so much for the environment and the community! Although we still have about seven more emerging businesses in sustainability to share with you, we wanted to take a little break here to share a video taken at the SOSA ceremony (shot by Chris Miller, Akron Digital Media Center). The video is the presentation, Reinventing Fire, by SOSA keynote speaker, Elaine Gallagher Adams of Rocky Mountain Institute.

Whether you are a business, a city official, or a community member, we hope you are as inspired about doing your part to save energy as her words made all of us in attendance. We also hope it makes you really think about the answers to these questions: Do you really know from where energy comes? When you throw something away…where is away? When it comes to sustainability, are you just going the easy route, or are you really challenging yourself with big goals? Do you use the fifth fuel?

Please enjoy…

The Summit of Sustainability Awards is a part of Greenprint for Akron, which is  facilitated by Keep Akron Beautiful. For more information, visit

Cap on or Cap off? Could You Be Hindering Your Recycling Efforts?

By Cindy Pantea

Recycling Caps on Plastic Bottles

The statement and article that prompted the tweet above can be found at:

Keep Akron Beautiful wanted to get the scoop on this, so I asked Greenstar Recycling Consultant, Scott Dellinger, who said that while the statement and article are based on truth, they are a bit overanalyzed and overcomplicated. Scott says that the real deal with caps is,

Bottle caps impact our processing at the MRF [Materials Recycling Facility] more than the actual end users of plastic. As facilities become more and more automated bottle caps become a bigger problem. Our initial sorting process is done by size and we remove glass. As you can imagine, bottle caps are small enough to fall through the glass screen and contaminate the materials for the end user companies. If the lids stay on the bottle through the sizing screens, they tend to keep the bottles inflated. When inflated bottles run through our perforator and flattener they can eject the caps and could potentially injure an employee, […] but the bigger issue is if the bottles fall through the perforator and do not become flat, they spin on our high speed belts and the optical scanners are less effective in recovery.

So, best thing to do is smash and cap — smash the bottle to deflate it and cap it to keep out the air. Or, if you have an Aveda Hair Salon or Whole Foods store nearby, these stores, according to an article, accept plastic caps for recycling.

Just on a side note, the recycling process is quite interesting, according to our Keep Akron Beautiful President & CEO and Greenprint for Akron Director, Paula Davis, who toured Greenstar Recycling with Akron teachers on a Greenprint for Akron tour this past summer. I’m sure a lot of what was learned was passed on to students on America Recycles Day!

What About Plastic Grocery Bags?

While we are on the topic of recycling, another item to keep out of your recycling is plastic shopping bags. It is best to take your plastic bags back to your grocer or other stores who recycle them, like Marc’s, which was  confirmed recently through Twitter:

Recycling Plastic Grocery Bags

Thank you @MarcsStores for confirming this for us!

Other Questions on Recycling

If you have questions about recycling, your local recyclers may have a handy question and answer page or even offer newsletters. For example, a couple recyclers in Akron, Ohio we can visit are: Greenstar Recycling’s Q&A page or River Valley Paper Company’s FAQs page.

For other local recycling solutions, talk to your local Solid Waste Management Authority. In Akron, it is the Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA) at 330-374-0383 or

For the most recent recycling solutions from  the SASWMA, I’ve attached a .pdf link below that you can view and/or print and keep. It’s free!…

Local Recycling Solutions from SASWMA

We’d also appreciate if you would sign up for our Keep Akron Beautiful free newsletter, so we can give you more up-to-date tips on recycling and more. Signup is at the left of our homepage at, we just need your name and email, which we do not share. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.

Big thanks to Scott Dellinger at Greenstar Recycling and @OptimizedMom.

KAB Recognizes Other Emerging Businesses in Sustainability Part 5

by Cindy Pantea

Summit of Sustainability Awards are facilitated by Keep Akron Beautiful

The Summit of Sustainability Awards is a part of Greenprint for Akron which is facilitated by Keep Akron Beautiful.

Wow — read the sustainability efforts of these three nonprofits, which include two residential communities! What are you and your neighbors doing for the environment? Are you cleaning up your dog’s waste, realizing the importance of not littering and participating in recycling efforts? Maybe these folks will inspire you to do that and more:

Habitat for Humanity (nonprofit) – Because they care about the environment, this nonprofit is continually working with its partners to improve the quality of the building process and the homes they build. Their sustainability accomplishments include:

  • Building all ENERGY STAR® rated homes (and since 2010, the affiliate has been designated a Green Builder for complying with Northeastern Ohio Green Building Institute Standard)
  • Building healthy buildings with good indoor air quality by using natural and non-toxic building products, installing energy efficient windows that reduce condensation and thereby reduce moisture and mold, sealing holes to prevent air leakage, ensuring proper ventilation for HVAC systems, and designing energy efficient plumbing that makes water conservation a priority.
  • Using materials with recycled content and applying building methods that minimize waste.
  • Opening a ReStore in 2007, which has recently been expanded, that sells building materials and home furnishings at 50% to 90% off retail prices – this not only diverts an estimated 300 tons of perfectly good materials from landfills each year but also has generated $2 million in income that was then reinvested into the organization.
  • Recycling a perfectly useful building across from Rolling Acres mall, which enabled them to also consolidate building operations, the Restore and administrative offices into one building.
  • Increasing efforts to help sustain local communities; for example, Habitat’s Deconstruction Program helps divert demolition debris from landfills and “A Brush with Kindness” helps low-income homeowners spruce up the look of their existing homes.

Laurel Lake Retirement Center (nonprofit) – This retirement community has been educating their 450 residents (average age of 82) in the concept of Sustainability and the practice of Recycling. Their efforts include:

  • Working with Summit /Akron Solid Waste Management Authority on plastic and paper recycling.
  • Collecting and re-using building materials salvaged from an abundance of re-modeling projects.
  • Using only energy-saving plumbing and electrical fixtures (including wall switches with motion/infrared sensors, where appropriate, CFSs in the common areas, fluorescent fixtures with electronic ballasts, LED exit signs).
  • Using only Energy-Star rated appliances.
  • Upgrade all air filters in all HVAC units withMerv-8 filters.
  • Instituting a CFL conversion program for residents’ lighting fixtures.
  • Involving Hudson area Eagle Scouts in the building of bridges and walk-ways on Laurel Lake’s 5 miles of nature trails.
  • Introducing a composting program for food refuse.
  • Introducing dog waste stations to avert ground water contamination.
  • Running a year-around Garage Sale open to the whole Hudson area to aid in the re-use of household furniture and equipment.
  • Completing an analysis of both gas and electricity bills over a 12 month period to aid in the establishment of the Laurel Lake Retirement Community Carbon Footprint.
  • Shared their activities with “Good Day in Hudson” cable television program to educate others.
  • Installed walk-off mats at each entrance to catch air contaminants.
  • Purchase supplies in all areas in bulk to reduce container trash.
  • Reduce lawn area with low maintenance plantings.

Hampton Wood Condominium Inc. (nonprofit) – Consisting of 304 units on approximately 70 hilly acres that contain 16-17 acres of grass, it is the largest complex in Summit County. Environmental efforts at Hampton Wood began with one resident and grew into a team effort. Keeping residents and park neighbors in mind, the association’s board of directors included an environmental policy in the 2010 revision of their rules and regulations and is the only known complex in Ohio to have such a formally stated environmental policy.  As a result, improvements in sustainability over the past two years are:

  • Reducing pollution and fuel consumption for lawn maintenance.
  • Switching to organic pond treatments in lieu of chemicals.
  • Incorporating native species and wildlife friendly species in landscaping projects.
  • Initiating paper and aluminum recycling measures where there were none.
  • Recycling trimmings and storm damage to flora for mulch, then purchasing that mulch.
  • Reducing electricity usage for outdoor lighting.

On behalf of Keep Akron Beautiful – Greenprint for Akron, thank you to Habitat for Humanity, Laurel Lake Community Center, and Hampton Wood Condominum for participating in the 2012 Summit of Sustainability Awards.

We’ll be soon launching the beginning of the 2013 Summit of Sustainability Awards and will have two new categories: Businesses with less than 10 employees or less and a Governmental and/or Neighborhood Association. Visit homepage for more info. Is your business ready to share sustainability efforts?