Environmentally conscious shoppers, rejoice! You can now find products that fit your requirements on Vine.com, a new eco-friendly shopping site that has the moral backbone of Mother Nature and the shipping speed of Amazon, its parent company. The website only sells products that fit into one or more of the following categories: natural, organic, renewable-energy-powered, reusable, made with sustainable materials, toxin-removing, energy-efficient, or water-efficient. Of course, we're searching the site on the lookout for gadgets that comply with green standards; check out our eight sustainable tech picks.
Technology improves so quickly these days that gadgets become obsolete within a year — or less. But what happens to all of those unused devices? After all, you can only have so many paperweights. A new study found that 62 percent of Americans have changed PCs in the last three years, and one in three of those Americans dumped their PCs in garbage cans — which is no way to dispose of highly toxic e-waste. Resources to recycle, donate, or sell old electronics continue to grow and gain popularity every year.
What do you do with your old and outdated technology? Share with us where your phones, ereaders, tablets, digital cameras, and computers go once you're done with them.
Don't throw that away! It's never too early for parents of aspiring eco-tots to start teaching their kids about the importance of the three R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It doesn't have to be a scary or upsetting issue — no need to have that sad, sad commercial of a baby polar bear stranded on a detached glacier playing on repeat — but there's nothing wrong with stressing the valuable role that children play in the sustainability movement. The following children's books are beautiful stories that teach kids about protecting the earth, without lecturing or putting them in a panic.
We talk all year about properly recycling your gadgets, but since we officially kick off Earth month today, it's the perfect time to remind you about the different ways to recycle, donate, and get some cash back from your old gadgets. It only takes a few minutes to help others and Mother Earth, so read on!
- Find a location near you — To ensure electronics don't end up in landfills or otherwise improperly disposed, find a certified e-waste recycler near you, who can properly strip devices of their recyclable parts. 1800Recycling.com provides nationwide resources. It can also be as easy as searching Google or Yelp for organizations that will recycle and delete sensitive information from your goods.
- Get some cash back with Ebay's Instant Sale — Just answer a few questions about the gadget you want to pawn and Ebay will give you an instant offer, even paying your shipping costs, so you can just click "accept" and go. Once you send in your tired gadget, Ebay will properly recycle it and deposit cash into your PayPal account. Easy, fast, and truly eases the stress on Mother Earth. How can you go wrong?
- Trade it in through Verizon — This four-step trade-in process first appraises your device, makes an offer, arranges shipping options, and then pays you for your trade-in. Start the process online by choosing your device (either by list or by photo) and answer questions like, "Can the device make outbound calls?" and, "Does the display work?" Verizon then gives you a trade-in value, with the option to either accept it or decline it. Older models may be appraised at no value but give you the option to donate the phone to a charity in need through Verizon's HopeLine program.
- Drop it off at Best Buy — Picking up your new phone from Best Buy? On your way out you can toss your old phone in one of its electronic recycling bins, along with any other computer or component items that are just lying around your house. A clean house is a happy house.
- Sell it — My Boneyard makes recycling your phone a no-brainer: just register your phone online, then pop your phone in the prepaid envelope you'll receive in the mail, and send it back. You may even get a cash reward (that you can keep, or donate to charity).
- Give it back to the manufacturer — Many technology manufacturers offer recycling of their own goods. Dell, Samsung, and Apple are among those that offer recycling solutions, and sometimes a discount on future goods, to customers.
- Donate — Donate old computers to schools in need and charity organizations like Goodwill, which uses an online donation calculator to immediately show how the product will benefit the community.
Having children may somewhat complicate the zero-waste transformation, but they in no way make it impossible. If you need a little push in the right direction BeSimpler is an inspiring business where one of the two extremely eco-chic founders (they both have kids and live waste-free!) will actually do a house visit to help mamas simplify and eliminate unnecessary waste. Here are some of their tips to transform a house into a waste-free, kid-friendly, sustainable home.
- Babies use a lot of diapers. Most disposable versions go right in the trash along with handfuls of wipes, destined to spend years decomposing at the dump. Reusable cloth diapers and wipes are the best option for a zero-waste home (there are plenty of services who do the pick up and laundry), while compostable diapers are a good second option. Unlike other single-use diapers, compostable nappies are made of ingredients that will compost when put in the proper environment — they contain no petroleum-based plastics that pollute our Earth by remaining un-decayed for hundreds of years.
- Babies make messes. Swap paper towels for microfiber cloths.
- Rid the home of piles of junk mail by getting yourself off the lists at dmachoice.org and catalogchoice.org.
- Treat boo-boos with peroxide, gauze, and paper tape instead of Band-Aids.
- Use a neti pot or reusable handkerchiefs for stuffy noses.
- Before a playdate, you don't ask the parents if their kids are vegetarians or meat eaters — you ask if they're locavores, lacto-ovo vegetarians, or pescetarians.
- Pampers what? Your diapers are either cloth or compostable.
- Visitors to your house leave with any trash they brought, because you do not even own a garbage can. That means sending friends home with their own dirty diapers, tampons, and ziplock bags.
- Your child has never tasted anything nonorganic (except for that one lost weekend at grandma's that you try to forget about).
- You're breastfeeding your newborn and your toddler.
- You use a diva cup.
- You have a fully stocked biodynamic wine cellar.
- Your child's crayons are made from organic fruit and vegetable powders.
- The icing on your baby's first birthday cake was made from avocado puree (organic, obviously).
- You pay to offset your carbon footprint.
- You live in San Francisco, Portland, or Brooklyn.
Earth Day may have come and gone, but that doesn't give you an excuse to toss your old or unwanted electronics in the trash once you've moved on to new models. This photo, which comes from a Cisco insider, shows a ton of the last-of-their-kind Flip cameras being rounded up into a trash can. While it's kind of sad to see them dumped, I'm hoping that Cisco is planning to recycle them properly. If you're wondering how exactly to recycle your laptops, phones, or camcorders, here are a few tips for you.
- Do your research. Make sure you are donating or recycling with a reputable operation. Check out recycles.org in order to be anonymously matched with a charity looking for your specific type of laptop, or search online for a recycling point near you.
- Erase it! This is the most important thing you can do with old laptops or computers that you are giving away. Run a program that wipes your hard drive clean before you pack it up, or try out some of these tips for securely deleting your info.
- Do some cleanup. If you are donating to a charity, take a few minutes to wipe down your laptop's monitor and keys. The extra time you take to clean off all those fingerprints and crumbs will be much appreciated!
Find out where you can drop off your old gadgets (or sell them for charity or profit) after the break.
Since Earth Day is this Friday, it's a great time to make a conscious effort to be more green in the kitchen. I'm a firm believer in the we are what we do philosophy in which small actions by lots of people creates big change. If everyone stops using plastic bags, the world will be a better place! These suggestions may seem like no brainers to those who already live eco-friendly lifestyles, but to those who don't, I encourage you to participate and take these simple steps to becoming more green.
Now that Dec. 25 has come and gone, we probably all have handfuls of "Seasons Greetings" lined up on our mantels or pinned to our refrigerators. Instead of stashing those cards in a drawer with last year's, you might as well put them to good use.
Send yours to St. Jude's Ranch For Children, a safe home that rescues abused, abandoned, and neglected children. St. Jude's runs a 30-year-old recycling-card program to benefit the children, which will make those goods wishes worth much more than words. The children participate in the program by making new cards. After removing the front of donated cards, they attach a new back made with recycled paper, and then they are sold.
Cards may be donated by sending them to:
St. Jude's Ranch For Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
Just make sure you save your friend's and family's photos first, if you received any!