It takes only one stop to (r)e-cycle your e-waste!

ecycleWhile I’m on the topic of electronics, I must mention my trip to Best Buy this weekend and a fantastic service that I discovered.

I need to preface this with pointing out that electronics, unfortunately, create an amazing amount of e-waste when they have run their course of usefulness or get replaced.  Our TV has seen better days, and that was the reason for the trip.  Our “outgoing” TV is 17 years old and has reached the point where words on the TV were difficult to read and scrolling type is nearly impossible.

That TV will still be donated to a local charity that assists recovering addicts in setting up a home and, although it’s feasible for us tBB ecycleo replace it, I know someone in need of assistance will appreciate our donation when they have “nothing”.  On top of that, our donation keeps it from needlessly being tossed away… it DOES work, afterall.

Okay, back to my original story… Best BuyMy discovery? They have these new FANTASTIC kiosks just inside the entry to their stores that allow us to drop-off all of our e-waste for recycling, repair or repurposing.  I’m talking everything… cellphones & chargers, CDs & DVDs, game controllers and components, remotes, printer cartridges, power cords, and even ‘empty’ gift cards!  I… LOVE… IT!!!

These kiosks are available in EVERY store around the country, and there happen to be about 1100 of them!  Find your store here.

BB kiosk 2While I believe that an electronic or ‘gadget’ still in working condition should be donated, this is the best source I’ve seen so far for a central drop-off location when they’ve run their course.  Check out their site for more details and to learn about their program for the “big” electronics too.

In the meanwhile, sort through your house, fill a box of e-waste and know that you’ve FINALLY found a place for them!

Simple tips for cutting your electric bill (and emissions!)

(This article originally ran on Money Minded Moms, Suze Orman’s online community, where I’m a featured writer.  I wanted to  post it here also since the underlying theme of my articles are not only money-oriented but always address issues that relate to the environment.  We know that the environment gets the brunt of the greenhouse gas emissions created by excessive energy usage, so I hope you can take these tips to not only save money but also do something good for our planet while you’re at it!)…

powerstrip 2Have you ever received an electric bill that caused you to gasp? Or does your bill seem extraordinarily high every month? You might find yourself wondering what you did to create such an expense.

The problem may not be what you’re doing, but what you aren’t doing.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20-25% of the energy used in our home is actually consumed by electronics in stand-by mode or even “turned off”. They still consume energy as long as they’re plugged into an outlet. They also estimate that this collectively costs us $7 billion per year.

Here are a few simple tips to cut those costs:

  • Use power strips – plug-in computers, printers, scanners, monitors, TVs, DVD players, TiVos/DVRs and game systems. (Up to 75% of the energy they pull is actually consumed when they aren’t being used!) With the flip of one power strip switchcphone chrgr you can nearly eliminate this “phantom” power. To cut consumption completely, unplug the power strip once you’ve flipped the switch.
  • Keep it unplugged – this includes microwaves, radios, clocks, lamps, etc. that you don’t often use. Consider even unplugging your washer and dryer. When you need them, just plug them back in.
  • Computers – your monitor consumes substantially more energy than your hard drive. Instead of letting it sit idle while you temporarily move on to another task, turn off your monitor or put it in rest mode.
  • The little things – constantly leaving your cellphone charger and infrequently used appliances plugged laptp compinto an outlet consumes energy, even when they’re not in use.

Survey your home. Use power strips or simply pull the plug from the outlet to reduce excessive energy usage. By not doing this, you could be allowing your electric bill to skyrocket (and remember, the environment pays the price right along with you!).

Simple energy tip: voicemail vs. answering machine

ans mchineWhile year after year the use of landline telephones is decreasing, over 70% of American households still have dedicated home phones (yes, I happen to be one of them… it’s a “comfort necessity” for me because of having little kids and the need to know I have a ringing phone available even if I forget to charge my cell and knowing I can call “home” if I’m away!).

If you have a landline chances are you also have an answering machine or voicemail associated with that phone (how could you not?).  Well did you also know that choosing the latter is incredibly green? Answering machines consume energy 365 days a year and when they stop working, they become hazardous electronic waste that gets added to your local landfill.vmail

If every U.S. household switched to voicemail instead, the annual energy savings would be approximately TWO BILLION kilowatt-hours.  The reduced pollution resulting from this reduced energy consumption would be the equivalent of removing 250,000 cars from the road!

See…  just another little testimonial for the “little daily life things”! Simple.

Simple buying tip: rechargeable batteries are mighty green!

btteriesEach year over THREE BILLION dry cell batteries are sold in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of trash that will eventually end up in a landfill, adding toxic chemicals and metals to our ground, air and water.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve priced rechargeable batteries and their initial cost looks frightful, but did you know that just four rechargeable batteries can replace approximately 100 regular alkaline batteries?!?!?

The cost of buying four rechargeable AA batteries (with its charger, mind you!) is equivalent to buying a 20-pack of single-use disposable AA batteries.  By my math calculations, you’ll be saving about $60 in the long run and that not only sounds eco-friendly, but also wallet-friendly to me!rechrg btteries

Today’s alkaline batteries are much safer than they were prior to 1997, but they still can’t be recycled, but guess what?… rechargeable batteries CAN! As always, you can check out Earth911, drop them off at any Batteries Plus location near you or ask at your local home improvement/hardware store or drugstore.  Some will even accept alkaline, button cell and lithium batteries for proper disposal too.

Face it, many of us are parents with kids that have far too many electronics and toys that require mountains of batteries, but you can help reduce your corner of the mountain by investing in some rechargeables instead!

Simple energy saving tip… “monitor” your monitor!

monitr fshIf you’re reading this you probably have a computer and chances are, you use it often…

Chances are also high that you often leave your computer running even when it’s not being actively used.  Most of us know about unplugging unused appliances, putting power strips to work and the energy waste of “phantom power” use, however, you might not know this little tidbit:

FACT: Computer monitors consume substantially more energy than your hard drive.

Now ask yourself how often you walk away from your computer and let it sit idle while you temporarily move onto a different task…  you’re in the middle of some information search or project and you don’t necessarily want to shut it down. I know I’ve been a major offender in this area… whether it’s running off to pick up kids at school, cook dinner, fold laundry, or some other glamorous mom duty(!).

So now that you know the little known fact, “monitor your monitor”Hit the button and shut it off when it’s not in use, or put your laptop in rest mode… nothing will be lost and you’ve conserved energy.

Though your “fish aquarium” screen saver can be quite entertaining, you’ll be much greener if you just let the little fishies rest for a while…