Recycling is good for the soul: resources

>> Friday, October 17, 2008

There are hundreds of online articles that can walk you through the organizing and purging of closets, attics, basements and various other dark, scary, overgrown places so I'll leave the driving to those folks (unless we find a really cool gadget or idea that hasn't been blogged to death).

Now that you have all those steaming piles of organized life detritus what do you do with it? Being the socially responsible hipster you are - you recycle it all, of course!

Let's get the toughest out of the way 1st...electronic waste or "e-waste".

Computers, printers, cell phones, tv's, gaming systems and radios make up the bulk of electronics that threaten the environment, because of their hazardous ingredients.

The foremost efficient and inexpensive way to keep these items out of the landfills is to donate them. But, if your Uncle Bob already has enough electronics to power NASA then let's move on.

Computers for Schools
National Cristina Foundation

If these organizations or your local school snickered when you kindly proffered your vintage PC fully loaded with DOS (sorry, geek joke) then let's plow ahead to some other alternatives and we'll work on bringing you into the 21st century in another post.

Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brands for free while some accept other brands for a small fee.

Manufacturer Specific Programs

* Apple
* Dell
* Hewlett-Packard
* Acer
* Toshiba Trade-In and Recycling Program
* Gateway
* Lenovo/IBM (will also accept other e-waste of other computer manufacturers)
* Sony
* Panasonic
* Epson (printers. scanners, projectors)

Retailer Programs

* Circuit City (Easy-trade in program)
* Best Buy
* Staples (accepts computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones)
* Office Depot
* EPA Plug-In Partners (lists manufacturers, retailers and service providers that offer recycling of e-waste)


* EPA—lists options for donating or recycling e-waste
* Techsoup—lists non-profit organizations and recyclers of e-waste
* Goodwill Stores (some locations accept computers)—Web site includes tips on how to donate computers

Cell Phone Recycling/Donation

* Motorola (accepts all brands for free)
* Nokia (accepts all brands for free)
* National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (donation of cell phones)
* Verizon Wireless (accepts phones at Verizon stores)
* AT&T Wireless (accepts phones at AT&T stores)
* T-Mobile Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail)
* Sprint Wireless (accepts phones in stores and by mail; recycling proceeds go to charity)
* Cell phones for Soldiers
* The Wireless Foundation (see site for drop-off locations)
* 911 Cell Phone Bank

Printer Cartridges:

* Staples
* Office Depot
* Panasonic

Food Scraps:
Compost it! Put all your food scraps, leaves and weeds (no
meats and fats please) in a pile in the yard. Water occasionally, turn
frequently with a pitchfork and voila....nutrient rich earth your flowers
will thank you for.

This includes thermometers, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), thermostats.

*Earth911 (to find a facility near you)

Ask your local high school drama dept, church, or Habitat for
Humanity if they accept donations of unused paint. If you have the latex variety, you can also find a reuse-and-recycle program through



* Radioshack
* Earth911 (enter the item and your zip code in the search box to find locations near you)

Bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, formal wear, gowns, shoes, or accessories. Try donating to one of these:

* Fairy Godmothers, Inc.
* Becca's Closet
* Glass Slipper Project
* Dress for Success
* Goodwill Stores (locate a store near you)

Eyeglasses and hearing aids:

*The Lions Club International
*LensCrafters stores
*New Eyes for the Needy


*Nike Reuse a Shoe

Miscellaneous household items & everything else (including the kitchen sink):
Check out your local chapters of

* CraigsList
* Freecycle

In the good ol' U.S. of A. it is often illegal or extremely
difficult to recycle leftover but perfectly usable leftover prescription medications.
There are, however, several US based organizations that repackage and ship drugs overseas.

Here are two I have utilized frequently. Madre takes more generic drugs like blood pressure meds etc. while Starfish looks for anti-retroviral (AIDS) type prescriptions to ship to HIV affected countries like Africa. Starfish Project will, however, send you prepaid shipping labels.

*Madre Medical Project:* The Starfish Project

There, now don't you feel better?



>> Thursday, October 16, 2008

I headed out to run today (ok, walking was more the goal after being sick for a week) and realized not 10' out the door that my iPod battery needed to be tunes today. Then a few steps further and ....uh-oh, forgot the cell phone. It took a good block or two to shake that "I feel naked" feeling and flow with the liberating detachment I had from being (gasp) unplugged! What if I need the music to motivate me up the hill, what if I twist my ankle and can't phone for help, what if.....what if...I just relax.

No, my brain decided it was going to wage an all-out anti-electronic debate first that went something like this:

Unplugged Brain: "So, thoughts, what do you want to think about?"

Thoughts: " I don't know, what about how morosely silent it is out here?"

Unplugged Brain: " Come on, we can do it....think about how Zen this can be"

Thoughts: "Ok, howsabout what you're going to do about that charley-horse without anything to distract you?"

Unplugged Brain: "Never mind, I'm outta here"

Thoughts: "Nooooo, don't leave me, it's too quiet in here....NOoooooo!"

Once that deliberation passed I could focus my attention to what was going on around me....hmmm, birds chirping, geese honking toward the south and leaves skittering under my running shoes. Darn hard to ignore the chill in the air and the passing sprinkle of rain hitting my face but enjoying the awareness took the edge off.

Admittedly, while I will never completely loose the e-gadgets - I'm too much of a geek - it seems to me that we are far too "wired". The robotic mindless passing of one activity to the next is de rigueur. You would be aghast at the number of people whom I've passed, walking for exercise while chatting on the cell phone....really, are we so busy, stressed, unmotivated (fill in the blank) that we need to drown out the angst?

How do we remove that electronic lifeline?

Turn off the television:

Just for small increments if necessary, turn off the tv and perhaps put on a CD (I know that is also an electronic device but steps) while cooking dinner. Tell the kids the "Magne-tron" is broken and play a board game with them. Work yourself up to a whole afternoon without the drone of mindless blather on the boob-tube.

Limit your messages:

Set a schedule for checking email and voice mail. This innovative idea springs from 4 Hour Work Week author, Tim Ferriss, with his theory about an information diet. Instead of listening for the "you've got mail" ding and reacting immediately, turn off the bells and whistles and allow
yourself to check messages only at given times throughout the day. My rough schedule is 9am, 12pm and 3pm.

Don't answer the phone:

I can feel the managers around the country recoiling in horror as I type this but just think about how much time you have wasted in the past fending off tenacious salespeople?

If you don't subscribe to caller ID then try a service like GrandCentral. Whether you receive your call on a home, work or mobile phone, the service will tell you who's calling before you accept the call. If the number of the person calling you is already in your GrandCentral address book, it will let you know the name. If it is a new phone, GrandCentral will ask the person for their name the first time they call. You are able to preview the name and route them to voicemail, where you can listen to their message as it is being left instead of after it If you want to jump in on the call you have the option. If not, let them leave a voicemail and at your set times go back to the previous tip about scheduling messages.

With YouMail calls you don't answer get forwarded to YouMail instead of your current wireless voicemail.YouMail users receive notification of new voice messages from both text and e-mail (you can disable that if e-mails start building up.) Checking voice mail on your mobile phone reroutes you to YouMail's service, which plays your message, and which gives you options to reply, save, delete, or skip messages, or change your individualized greeting for the caller.

Lastly, try recording in your voicemail greeting that people should leave their e-mail address, and then respond to them via e-mail.

No more voicemail:

Consolidate your communications and have your voicemail delivered to your e-mail inbox, which then serves as a single portal by subscribing to one of these services. GrandCentral mentioned above can also e-mail audio files. When you sign up for an eVoice account, you will be given a unique eVoice number to provide to all of your contacts. When one of your contacts leaves a message, you will receive the voicemail in the email box associated with your account.

GotVoice retrieves voicemail from your home, cellular and office phones, converts your voicemail into text and digital audio files and delivers your voicemail to your phone or computer as text and audio.

Phonetag, formerly Simulscribe, automatically converts your voicemail into text and delivers it directly to your mobile phone, Blackberry, Goodlink enabled phone and/or your email account; so you can read your voicemail. It replaces voicemail provided by your carrier; your messages are transcribed using voice transcription software, and forwarded to your choice of email address, and/or sent as a text message. A popular option with near 90% transcription accuracy.
Pinger lets users send voice mail without actually placing phone calls; the recipient gets a text message with a link to the audio file. After the message is sent, the recipient gets a text message with a callback number. They can dial back that number and hear your message.

With Jott you can call and tell them where you want your message to go. They will capture your voice, turn it into text, and send it to the destination you chose. With a simple phone call , you can capture notes, set reminders and calendar appointments, stay in touch with friends and family, and interact with your favorite web sites and services.

Braincast, which works much like Jott, except that it delivers the actual sound file recorded by the user rather than a text transcription.

Yap allows you to easily send text messages by simply speaking them into a mobile application. Might want to consider this one for your text-obsessed teenagers and keep their hands on the wheel.

SpinVox works with cellular carriers to turn subscribers' voice mails into e-mails, text messages, or blog entries.

Slydial allows users to call any mobile line and go directly to voicemail, similar to GrandCentral. The phone will display a missed call from your original number, but they won’t have a chance to answer it. Slydial works with all wireless carriers, but users can make the initial call from either landlines or mobile phones. And, if you really hate talking to people, you can create an account on their website and use a contact list to leave voice messages from your computer.

With CallWave Voicemail-To-Text you can read summarized text transcriptions of your messages with any phone, on any network, on any computer. Or listen to messages in your email or in your message center.

Some of these innovative services are free while others charge a monthly or per message fee. You may also incur charges from your phone carrier so please check all the hairy details before downloading or signing up.

You may never dial into your voicemail again and your scripted "I'm sorry I won't be able to make our (cough, sniffle) date/meeting/outing. I've come down with an awful bug" message becomes pain-free. ~


Guilty Pleasures

>> Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You've resolved, in light of the current state of affairs, to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The lights get turned off on leaving the room. CFC light bulbs grace every socket. Plastic grocery bags are verboten - canvas totes de rigueur. Compost pile is feed and watered regularly. You are already buying local from your neighborhood farmers market. Even your junk mail is recycled.
But, tell us...what are your guilty pleasures; the little splurges you indulge in no matter the economy or ecology?

A sweltering 10 minute shower when no one is home? A grande latte from the local barrista? Fresh flowers on the dining table every week? Can't pass on the Prada bags or weekly manicures? String cheese and Red Bull while perusing the recent 6 lb. issue of Vogue?

Come on, there must be something....We promise not to tell.


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