Aug 26 2011

Recycle and Make Money!

landfill
I am always horrified by the lack of recycling bins I see outside of people’s homes on garbage day. The majority of our garbage is recyclable and yet so few take the extra couple of seconds to separate it.

In today’s culture most people want to see an immediate impact, or they need to get something in return. So, here are some incentives…….

1) Gazelle.com – mail in all of your old gadgets, including cell phones, laptops, and IPods, and get $ in your Paypal account. The newer the item, the more $ you will receive.

2) Trade ins – This is news to me, but Best Buy, Kmart, Target, Sears, Walmart, and online retailers like Amazon and Ebay, will give you a trade-in value for some of your items. Contact the retailer and ask them about their “sell-back” program.

3) Tax Deductions – Donate to the Salvation Army, YMCA or other organizations and receive a tax credit. Check out Earth911.com for ideas of organizations.

4) Helping Others – Maxback.com will take your cell phones, MP3 players, cameras and more and in exchange, they will make donations to schools and other non-profits.

I have to follow this up with a few words of caution. About 80% of the electronics in this country that go to recycling pants end up in foreign countries like China or Ghana where women and young children work in horrible conditions to break down the toxic e-waste. This involves melting the items with acid and burning them while toxic fumes, mercury, and iron are being leached into the workers’ bodies. Soooo, it’s important do ask where the items you drop off will actually end up.

I contacted Gazelle and Maxback and they both assured me they do not ship their electronics abroad. They attempt to resell them, salvage what can’t be sold, and recycle the rest.

A good resource for reuputable recycling plants in your area is e-stewards.org. Their members pledge not to send their electronics overseas.

Manufactures already know how to make “greener” electronics, without mercury, iron, and harmful chemicals and it’s up to us to put the pressure on them to get it done.

Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics is a great way to find out what products are the most sustainable and support them when we are making our purchases. If being green is rewarded monetarily, the rest will follow suit.

One last note, DON’T forget to wipe the memories of you electronics (i.e. phones and computers) before you turn them in. It only takes a few minutes, but failing to do so may result in identity and credit card theft.

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