It is estimated that the US now dumps between 300 million and 400 million electronic items per year, and less than 20% of that e-waste is recycled. Even more concerning is that E-waste represents 2% of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics if allowed to degrade into the ground or leach into groundwater can cause damage in humans to the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys. But lead can also be extracted from a device and reused. Other commodities that can be extracted from electronic equipment and reused as valuable raw material in the manufacture of new products are steel, aluminum, gold, silver, titanium, copper, nickel, plastic, and glass. It only makes sense to recycle electronics: extract all reusable materials saving money, and making certain that toxins are being properly handled and reused or disposed, saving our planet.
Electronics recyclers provide comprehensive recycling operations. Businesses usually have large amounts of e-waste that may require secure data destruction. There are both for-profit organizations who may pay for them, and non-profits such as ARC Broward, that will provide you with secure hard-drive and data destruction as well as a receipt for a tax deduction.
Individuals can get paid to recycle electronics and keep them out of landfills too. Instead of tossing your gadgets in a landfill when you’re finished with them, get paid to recycle them by using services like getpaid2recycle.com, buymytronics.com, and gazelle.com. E-recyclers will recycle or refurbish your electronics, keeping them out of landfills and paying you cash. Different recyclers take different types of products, so make certain you do your research on-line to see which recycler is willing to give you the best price. And please, whatever you do, make certain your recycling company of choice is certified by R-2, ISO, or another reputable third party verifier, insuring the organization is truly disposing of your e-waste properly.
And there you have it: one simple way you can reduce your clutter and make a few bucks on in the process, almost hassle free!
E-waste is a term describing electronics at the end of their useful life. Electronics encompass anything from cameras to clocks, cell phones to laptops. E-waste is a major concern for multiple reasons, one of the most important being that it’s a relatively new waste stream and has grown in volume exponentially in a very short period of time. Consider this: 15 years ago cellular phones were just becoming mainstream, still in the mass marketing development stage, today about 50 million cell phones are replaced worldwide each month, and only 10% are recycled world-wide.
According to the Natural Environment website, 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to manufacture a year's worth of plastic bags worldwide, and it takes approximately 400 years at least for a bag to biodegrade. Unfortunately, plastic is the most a common material choice for packaging and carrying in the current disposable society in which we live. Here's the problem, if it takes over 400 years to biodegrade, technically, it's not disposable at all. In reality, we are NEVER getting rid of it, we're just moving it from point A to point B for it to remain at point B FOREVER, or at least 400 years.The impact of plastic bags on our environment is enormous. . Approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die every year because they either mistake the bags for food or get strangled in them, says Natural Environment. The "plastic soup" patch floating in the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of the continental United States and is roughly 80 percent plastic, according to The Independent, a British newspaper.
Welcome to TangibleGreen! We are committed to working toward a better world for us all. Businesses can have a profound affect on the way we see that world and function within it. For the next several posts we will address ways to begin a culture shift within your own business environment.
First Steps to Greening Your Business
(Derived from Natural Step Guidelines And Project Experience)
“Talking sustainability is easy; integrating it into the fabric of a business is a process.”
Note: Top management support is vital to convince people of the seriousness of the effort. Because of the nature of the industry it is essential to have this support to allow people to pursue “non-billable” projects that help change firm practices and outdated processes.
First, think about the answers to the following questions:
What will sustainability mean to your business and staff?
What do you hope to achieve by greening your business?
Are we committed to integrating sustainability into or current culture and future strategic plans?
Sustainability is a process that develops over time, implementing 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year sustainable business goals.
Set-up the green teams. Employee participation is essential to a successful environmental initiative. Bring
together a team of employees to promote environmentalism in the workplace. These troops can head up the recycled-product purchasing effort, educate co-workers on environmental issues, and track environmental accounting for their department. Consider creating incentives such as rewards and recognition for employees who drive your company’s environmental efforts. Name a periodic “green champion” in order to single out employees’ environmental action.
Educational Component. Everyone in the company is a key player in the sustainability initiatives.
Implement training course, handouts, simple ways to reduce energy and waste outputs.
For information on How to "Green" YOUR business in a tangible way, send us an email or give us a call, we'd be happy to work with your company to guide you into becoming more efficient, environmentally conscious, and strategically prepared for the future.
TangibleGreen Tip - Coming Soon...Facts, Figures and Information from the Florida Green Energy & Climate Conference Palm Beach County School District Essay Contest! The Essay Topic: The Importance of Eating Locally Grown Food
As for my thoughts on judging the essay contest, well, this is the fourth straight year I have been doing this essay contest with the Conference, FPL, and the School District. Over those four years the students have shown an increasing and well-rounded understanding of environmental, human health, and economic consequences related to current human behavior. I am infinitely hopeful for our future, they give me that every year...how fortunate I am!
The essays will be published here and on the Our Greener World radio show website, www.ogwradio.com Every week from May 23rd to June 20th you can hear one essay contest winner read their essay on the show. Tune in to Our Greener World on Seaview Radio (106.9 FM, 95.9 FM, and 960 AM) Thursday Evenings at 6PM.
Waste Not, Want Not
The most sustainable person I’ve ever known had to be my grandmother, and I write this in honor of her birthday which was today, May 2nd. She reused every plastic bag at least three times, never had a leftover go to waste, meticulously cleaned every square inch of her home with non-toxic cleaning agents such as vinegar and water (she was allergic to anything that wasn’t made with the purest ingredients), detested unnecessary clutter, and lived to the ripe old age of 92 and ornery as ever right up to the end. Her mantra was “Waste not, want not”, which of course drove me nuts when I was tasked with rinsing out a plastic bag for reuse while trying to think of any other 8 year old that had to perform such menial labor to save a d-i-s-p-o-s-a-b-l-e bag!
My grandmother has been gone over a decade now, but I hear her mantra in my head every time I think about the volume of products we consume and waste every day without giving it a second thought. We the people are the walking waste streams of the world. We consume, we waste, we consume more and we waste more. When does it ever end?
According to the United States Green Building Council’s recent statistics, employees on average generate 1.6 pounds of waste per day, and multiply that by the average work year of 260 days, we are now talking about 416 lbs of waste per year, per employee. In an office with 20 people, that translates to over 5 and one half tons of waste per year. And that’s just one small office! What about in general? According to the Solid Waste District in La Porte Indiana, people in the United States on average generate 4.4 lbs of waste per day and in total, we produced some 229 million tons of waste in 2001 which continues to increase each year in direct proportion with population increases. So what can we do?
The natural world has provided us the perfect model for living a sustainable life and running a sustainable business… there is no waste. None! In nature, even what we humans consider to be waste has a purpose. One great way to start down the road toward sustainability, either personal or in business, is to do a waste stream audit. If you are wondering where to find opportunities to save, look no further than your garbage can. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities that can be identified by finding out what your sources of waste are. So slide into your favorite pair of reusable gloves and dive in!
Once you’ve identified and quantified your sources of waste then you’ve got to think outside the can! Brainstorm about ways to divert the disposed products by asking questions like: Is there something else this can be used for; by me, or by someone else? Can this be recycled? Do I need to have this in my waste stream at all, or can I avoid purchasing this material altogether? If I choose to purchase a certain type of product, is there another that is biodegradable or comes with less packaging, or even better, biodegradable packaging? If I buy in bulk will that cut down on my waste to the landfill?
You’d be amazed what you can learn about yourself, your family, and your company by knowing what you waste. Take the time to understand your own trends of consumption and disposal and make adjustments accordingly, you may just save a few dollars in the process of saving the planet. I encourage you to take your time doing the waste audit and sort through the messy bits too, as another one of my Grandmother’s old adages comes to mind…”Haste makes waste”!
Gone are the days when Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives began and ended with the aim of giving back to the community. CSR programs of large companies have now grown to include environmental concerns, largely as a result of growing consumer awareness and to some extent, governmental regulation. Of course, the fact that green CSR initiatives usually save the company a lot of money, while generating immense public goodwill is not overlooked by companies. Consequently, more and more industries are making environmental activism a part of their CSR programs.
Most companies, large or small, choose to focus green initiatives in CSR on four major areas – reviewing environmental impact, reduction of environmental impact, promote energy efficiency and conservation of water. The process invariably starts with an assessment of the environmental impact of the company’s overall operations including raw material sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and administration. Once the impact has been assessed either in terms of carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions, the next step is to formulate methods to reduce this by a measurable quantity within a certain period. Promoting energy efficiency has the two-fold advantage of conserving non-renewable sources of energy and cutting operating costs. Many companies undertake retrofitting efforts or installing sources of renewable energy as a part of this conservation effort. Water conservation by promoting efficient use of water and recycling waste in an effort to prevent contamination of groundwater is another major component of green CSR initiatives.
In addition to this, companies may also go in for implementing new environmentally friendly policies on a company-wide basis and this may include all the major factors mentioned in addition to ethical labor policies and environmental disclosure. Companies have embraced green CSR by promoting green restaurants (McDonald’s), hiring executives to formulate green CSR policies (Microsoft) and integration of green CSR into business strategy (IBM). Many businesses now recognize that it is important to get into green CSR at an early stage because in addition to stabilizing the environment, it makes sound business sense. Boeing, for example, was one of the first companies to invest in fuel efficient jet engines at times when oil was cheap, and is now poised to supply fuel-efficient engines to the aeronautical industry.
Insider Green Nov. 2009 (www.insidergreen.com)