Archive for the ‘General Recycling’ Category

Oakland University Earth Day Celebration

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

It is that time of the year again; time to clean out your dorm room and move back home for the summer. Most likely you have come across something while packing up that you had completely forgotten about. Maybe a cell phone you dropped in a puddle while rushing to class. Or an iPod that’s battery is more drained than you are after finals week. Why not doing something positive with these electronics that you aren’t using anymore?

Recycling for Charities has partnered with the Sustaining Our Planet Earth organization of Oakland University to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. As a non-profit charity, Recycling for Charities (RFC) defends the environment and supports other worthy non-profits through recycling, donating the money raised to over 800 charities nationwide. On April 15 the two organizations hope to prevent nearly 50 TONS of electronic waste, which can leak harmful chemicals, from entering landfills while celebrating the environmentally-friendly holiday at Oakland University’s campus.

From 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. students, staff, and members of the community will have the opportunity to donate broken and used electronics such as cell phones, iPods, digital cameras, pagers and PDAs. RFC, stationed with their eco-friendly Smart Car at the Oakland Center, will be accepting electronic donations to be recycled. Every donor will receive an entry into a contest to win prizes, such as a Kodak Digital Camera or Digital Photo Frame, simply for donating their used e-waste! If you are planning on being on campus April 15 remember to keep your old electronics with you and head to the Oakland Center where all the fun will be! All funds raised from the recycling of the e-waste collected will benefit the Hospice of Michigan, a charity chosen by SOPE.

Attendees will be able to participate in other ‘green’ Earth Day activities on campus as well provided by Reverb, including organic t-shirt screen printing and seed planting, and can grab an organic bite to eat while listening to a live DJ from a local radio station spin the newest hits. As a part of Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour, rapper Drake will also be performing on April 15 at the Meadow Brook Theater.

You can easily receive updates about this event by following Recycling for Charities on Twitter and Facebook, too:

We need YOUR help! Only 10 percent of used or broken cell phones are recycled each year. What is your excuse? Be sure to do your part this Earth Day by helping RFC and SOPE keep 75 tons of e-waste out of our landfills!

Oakland University is located at 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Rochester, Michigan 48309.

Plastic Waste Forms Island of Garbage in Pacific Ocean

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

The Great Eastern Garbage Patch. Have you ever heard of it? Most haven’t. Located at a natural collecting point right in the center of revolving currents called the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Eastern Garbage Patch is a floating island of waste estimated to be twice the size of Texas. That’s right- TEXAS. Somehow this massive garbage heap had shied away from the media for years, but has now been brought to the public’s attention via Captain Charles Moore of the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita, who is credited for its discovery.

Thousands of miles from land this garbage patch is littered with debris that many would assume is from people aboard passing ships, but researchers think not. They estimated that 80 percent of the trash is actually due to land dwellers and has eventually found its way over the years to the North Pacific Gyre. This is nothing but bad news considering that there is even more trash riding the currents as you sit and read this now, destined to add to the island’s growth.

A 10 mile-wide fleet of plastic Taco Bell take-out bags.

80,000 Nike running shoes involved in a containership spill in 1990.

Discarded fishing nets and lines that run miles long.

“Nurdles”, or tiny plastic pellets that resemble tapioca and carry high concentrations of deadly chemicals, one hundred billion pounds of which are used each year to make things like CD cases and plastic pipes.
This is just some of what can be found on and near the Great Eastern Garbage Patch, but they all equal this: roughly one million pieces of plastic per square mile across hundreds of miles of the Pacific Ocean. Countless animals in and out of the water have confused these floating plastic objects as food or have gotten tangled or strangled in plastic lines and nets only to lose their lives. According to Marine Biologist David Barnes of the British Antarctic Survey, “Plastic is not just an aesthetic problem. It can actually change entire ecosystems.”

Right now we can only expect the trash to continue invading the ocean. There are bans in place to prevent the dumping of plastics but enforcement on the open ocean is not taken seriously and when accidents occur they do not need to be reported. This means people like Captain Moore, who are trying to stop plastic from taking over our ocean, don’t even have a chance to clean up the debris left by others, even if by accident.

What is ironic is that people value plastics for the same reason plastics are causing so much harm to our oceans: its durability. While manufacturers place the blame of plastic debris on consumers, Captain Moore makes a good point saying that, “there’s no reason why a six-pack ring or a peanut butter jar should have to last for 400 years.” While manufacturers have attempted to perfect biodegradable packaging there is only one company, EarthShell, which has made real progress. The company has already begun work with the National Park Service who uses their biodegradable plates and has even provided many McDonald’s restaurants with their clamshell boxes. The Environmental Cleanup Coalition has also made a huge impact by taking the initiative to collaborate with other organizations who try to come up with ways to safely remove plastic and other pollutants from the ocean.

Recycling for Charities is passionate about helping to eliminate waste in any way possible. While we are limited to recycling electronic waste we have tips to help consumers prevent the growth of this plastic-waste island too. You can buy products with less plastic packaging and therefore decrease your plastic waste. For example, instead of buying pop or soda that has a six-pack ring around them, buy the case in the cardboard box that can later be broken down and recycled. Also, you can practice and promote the proper disposal of plastic items. Recycle your plastic waste when possible and never litter, especially near places like the beach where wildlife can mistake your trash for food. If you do not have the means to donate money to an environmental organization you can always donate your time by helping with a local clean-up at a park or beach. Remember, your small effort can make a big difference.

Haiti Aided by the American Red Cross, and Technology

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

In just 2 days the American Red Cross was able to raise $5 million through their mobile fund raising initiative in order to help earthquake relief efforts in the country of Haiti. “Raising this amount of money, $10 at time, is a true testament to the American spirit,” said Susan Watson, director of marketing and visibility for the Red Cross. The American Red Cross also showed its own spirit by initially pledging $1 million to support Haitian relief.

Without the worry of making a long-term commitment to the American Red Cross, individuals are able to make a $10 donation via a cell phone text message. The donation is simply charged to the donor’s cell phone bill and he or she never even has to leave the comfort of their own home. Many people react immediately when a disaster strikes, and the ability to text donations, with no need to call a hotline or browse a website for information, is instant and satisfying.

By creating the text message campaign the Red Cross made it quick, easy, and convenient for people to make a small yet significant difference. According to the organization the $10 donation provides a first aid kit equipped with enough ointment and bandages for one of their responders to treat 15-20 injured earthquake survivors, or can provide a family with two water cans to store clean drinking water, basic first aid supplies or a blanket appropriate to the climate.

While in the past large funds have been raised for relief efforts through different means, the fast and easy text message campaign has proven to work effectively in today’s technologically driven world. In the future such electronic efforts could also help to decrease the use of certain materials, such as paper used for in-person or mailed donations, and yet would still raise funding much faster than traditional methods.

Not only can your cell phone provide aid to the American Red Cross’s efforts through text message, but also through recycling. Old cell phones that no longer have texting capabilities still have value to us. Donate them through Recycling for Charities to easily help raise funds for the American Red Cross.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your CDs

Friday, February 5th, 2010

It is pretty rare these days to see a student walking on campus without one and maybe even rarer to see people working out at the gym without one. It is hard to believe that it was only nine short years ago that Apple launched their version. And yet today MP3 players have had such huge popularity that most people have given up on every other form of music data storage, including the ever popular compact disk.

Around 8.6 billion songs have been downloaded off of Apple’s iTunes store, which is roughly 86 million CDs. Most people download music simply for their own convenience, but the truth is they are actually doing the environment a huge favor. Plastic, metal, and ink containing petroleum are all used in producing a CD, not to mention lacquer that is used to protect the disk, the paper liner insert, and the plastic case it came in. Before being commissioned to make a CD though, each of these components went through different processes on their own in which energy was used and waste was created. So the next time you debate whether or not to run to the store to buy that new CD that was just released, just remember not only will you be saving time and gas, but also the environment.

So now it’s time to dust off all of those old CDs that you haven’t so much as looked at since you uploaded them to your computer to later put on your handy MP3 player. With these new technologies and the ever-changing music industry it’s no wonder millions of CDs end up in landfills and incinerators each year.

Here are some ways in which you can help prevent the pile of CDs from growing in our landfills:

If possible, recycle the plastic case that the CD came in- you know that it’s probably cracked or broken anyway. You can also store your CDs in a large organizer and recycle all of the cases they came in, broken or not. Make sure to check with your local waste management facility to see if they accept this type of plastic.

Go through your music library and choose CDs that you know are just taking up space on your shelves. Bring these CDs to a local media store that take them off of your hands for free, sometimes even for cash!

Get creative. There are endless ways in which you can take your old CDs and make them into new, interesting pieces. Try searching for these CD projects online and see what catches your eye. The easiest idea? Simply place a CD face down and stack a pillar candle on top of it. Not only does it look stylish while reflecting the light of the candle’s flame throughout the room but it also keeps mess to a minimum by catching the dripping wax.

Check out local places, such as your nearest library, to see if they have CDs you can rent. You get to listen to the music you want for free, it doesn’t take up much space in your life for too long, and it is constantly being reused.

And don’t forget, once that oh-so-convenient MP3 player’s battery has decided to call it quits or if you just need an upgrade you can always recycle the device too and reduce waste in our landfills!

Is the Apple iPad Green Enough?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The way technology is evolving, today’s latest electronics are doing their best to become “green” products. Apple’s new iPad is a revolutionary piece of technology that is far more advanced than any other tablet PCs. With a starting price of only $499, this item is definitely going to be a must have for a lot of consumers. Still there is an underlying question that not too many people have asked. What effects will the new iPad have on the environment? Apple has stated that the iPad does have environmental features, but that doesn’t mean you are going to see Captain Planet walking around with one.

Truth be told the Apple iPad is about as green as a piece of technology like this can get. In Apple’s favor the iPad is an e-reader, allowing someone to store and read all of their once paper documents on the device. This will definitely reduce the amount of trees being cut down for the use of printing. The iPad also doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals: no arsenic, no mercury, no BFRs (brominated flame retardants), no PVC. When someone is ready to move on the entire device is highly recyclable. Apple also decided to go with a LCD-backlit display instead of OLED, which requires more energy. In addition the iPad has a 10 hour battery life, which means that it won’t need to be constantly plugged in for a recharge. With all these green features in mind, Apple’s iPad may seem like a state of the art environmental savior.

It is safe to say that the iPad is a green product compared to most of today’s electronics. However, lets look past all those nice green features for a moment. The production of any electronics like this has a huge environmental impact. Add that to the fact the iPad will be in high demand more and more rare metals are going to be used. Global supply chains are needed to ship the materials to the productions site and then again when they are ready to hit the market. The biggest problem is that the iPad is just an addition not a replacement. The iPad is designed to be a supplement to other devices. It doesn’t aim to replace full sized desktop or laptops and not too many people are going to replace their iPod with the 9 inch iPad. Even if in some instances the iPad does replace everyday electronics, where are those going to go? More than likely they end up in a landfill contributing to the e-waste problem. Plus who is to say that everyone is going to recycle their iPad once it reaches its end life. Sure it is highly recyclable, but with no stable e-waste recycling laws in place, iPads could become a direct source of e-waste.

Although it is green, the iPad represents another device to be owned. It begins with the metals used in production, to the energy consumed by manufacturing and shipping, to the burden of its disposal, is the iPad really doing planet earth a favor? It is easy to overlook all the hidden problems when Apple does add green specifications to the iPad. However, when looked at fully from the production to the end-life the iPad may just end up being a problematic device for the environment.

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