Posts Tagged ‘recycle’

Earth Day Every Day Saves You Money

Earth Day…

On the first Earth Day I “celebrated” with my kids a friend, her 5-year old son, my 5-year old son, 1-year old daughter in a stroller and I went into a little tiny strip of wilderness area that stretched along side a street we used to frequently walk along, and we picked up the trash.  I can’t recall how many bags full of garbage we collected, but we were astonished at how much there had been in such a small space, and the kids were really proud that the work they did would help keep the little forest they knew so well healthier and more beautiful. Unfortunately, the following year, the little forest was full of litter and trash again, which I found so discouraging I didn’t have the heart to show my little son how fruitless his previous year’s noble efforts had been, and I hit the wall of disillusionment in the Earth-day clean-up activity arena, so instead, I think we planted a tree that year for Earth Day.

Littering is a huge pet-peeve of mine.  I wish it was for more people out there.  Not only is it an immense eye-sore, but litter presents personal health and world wide environmental pollution hazards, and even though I hadn’t even considered this 20 years ago, now I know that it  filters through our whole economy, creating a tremendous impact on national budgets, taxes, fees, and real estate values… all of which are paid for by YOU… it all ends up coming right out of YOUR wallet.

Bag Monster Blog, a site devoted to eliminating plastic bag use, quotes Heal The Bay, an environmental group dedicated to cleaning and sustaining the Santa Monica Bay in Southern California, who sites the following statistics: The total cost of litter collection, disposal and enforcement in the U.S. is estimated to be at least $11.5 BILLION annually. Businesses bear the burden of this cost, spending $9.1 BILLION annually and representing 79.5% of the total cost of litter abatement. Just consider for a second the lower prices we might be appreciating if business didn’t have to foot such an enormous bill, and what amazing, wonderful, and productive things might be accomplished with that money!

Placing trash in trash bins instead of littering will reduce these costs, but recycling further reduces expenditures, and is even more ecologically sound — and re-using and re-purposing promotes all around further savings.  Check the fascinating recycling facts posted on A Recycling Revolution.

While my experience with cleaning up that little neighborhood woodlands was a bit discouraging, it did not hamper my caring about the the fragility of our planet, and along with cost-consciousness, an eco-consciousness has found its way into just about everything I do.  I still have a long way to go, and it may feel daunting at times but , unlike 20 years ago, now it is easy to find resources, like EarthDay.org, and Keep America Beautiful, that are devoted to making it easier for us keep the world healthier, cleaner, safer, and more beautiful, while keeping our our wallets happier too!

Jamie, SLTV

Catch these Money-Saving and Earth-Friendly Related Videos:

Being Frugal:  The Original sustainability? – Author of The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better, Chris Farrell

Cleaners, Make Your Own – Kimberly Danger, founder of Mommysavers

Clothes Swap – Melissa Massello of Shoestring Magazine & Amy Chase of Punkystyle Blog

Energy Efficiency Tips Host of “House Smarts” TV show, Lou Manfredini

Freecycling: Household Items for Free – coordinator for Freecycle New York City, Christina Salvi

Gasoline Money: Inflate Tires & Save – Global energy products and eco blog, Eco 20-20

Grow an Organic Garden: Save Money – Research editor of Organic Gardening Magazine, Pam Ruch

House Cost Saving Tips, Eco-Friendly – Interior designer, Libby Langdon

Household Eco Products Save Money Josh Dorfman, host of The Lazy Environmentalist TV show

Live Richly & Frugal Forever – Founder of the Tightwad Gazette, and Frugal For Life blog, Amy Dacyzyn

Refrigerator & Freezer Eco & Savings Tips – Home enviornmentalist expert, Danny Seo

Shop Organic Money Saving Tips – Author of Georgously Green and TV host, Sophie Uliano

Uncle Sam Sells Cheap, All About Gov’t. Auctions – Stacey Johnson host of Money Talks News

World Travel for Free While Helping to Grow the Organic Movement – World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farms,  WWOOF

Link to this article: http://is.gd/vYW4TG

Make Every Day Arbor Day, Tips to Save Trees and Money

U.S. National Arbor Day:  The Last Friday in April 

The beauty of trees alone is enough reason for us to want to surround ourselves with as many trees as possible, but it’s not the only reason.

Here are a few more reasons why surrounding yourself with trees is a good idea. From The ColoradoTrees.org article, Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas:

  • Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and give out oxygen. A healthy tree stores about 13 pounds of carbon annually. An acre of trees absorbs enough CO2 over one year to equal the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.
  • Trees also filter other gaseous pollutants from the air. There is up to a 60% reduction in street level particulates when trees are present.
  • Trees prevent soil erosion and water run off.
  • They prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways.
  • They act as buffers to noise pollution.
  • They cool the earth with their shade. Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can have temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.
  • They function as wind breaks for farms and our homes.
  • Trees enhance traffic safety; drivers tend to drive slower on tree-lined streets.
  • Trees increase property values.
  • They help reduce home energy use, which saves you money.

And, if all this isn’t enough to consider making tree preservation and planting a priority in our everyday lives, consider this: Trees reduce crime. In the April 1, 2011 edition of Bottomline Personal Newsletter we read:

  • Neighborhoods with large trees tend to have less crime than areas with smaller trees says Geoffrey H. Donovan, PhD, research forester, Portland Forestry Sciences Labratory, Oregon, and coauthor of a study of 431 crimes, published in Environment and Behavior.

You can easily help improve your town, neighborhood and home while also preventing the over harvesting of trees and destruction of forests. Here are some simple tips that you can use in your everyday life that will make a considerable difference. And… we happen to know that these tips will save you money, too!

 

Consider joining the The Arbor Day Foundation. The Arbor Day Foundation’s purpose is to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the non-profit Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. Their Web site features many helpful gardening and planting resources; one of our favorites pages is the one giving Free Landscape Design Plans. They also give more wonderful free material when you sign up for membership. Sign up starts at just $10. For that, you will receive discounts on purchases of trees and shrubs of up to 56%, a bi-monthly color newsletter, The Tree Book treasury on planting and caring for trees, AND IN ADDITION: Your choice of either – receiving TEN FREE TREES, or making a donation of ten trees in your name to a national forest in need.

Participate in or start a community tree planting program. Check with your local town or city government to find out if there is a tree planting program in your city and join in. Some towns will plant a tree for free at your curbside if you volunteer to water it. If there isn’t a program in your city, consider starting one. Find info. in this AmaricaForests.org aritcle: Create a Community Tree Planting Project.

About books: Go for used books or textbooks, check out books from your local library, or going digital with an e-book reader or program for your computer.

Go digital for subscriptions. Take online subscriptions for your news or magazines. Switch to online bill pay and banking.

Send a FAX directly from your computer.

Check for post-consumer recycled household paper goods like bath tissue, paper towels and printer paper.

Cut back on paper towels.Use rags instead of paper towels. You can use worn out sheets, t-shirts, sweatshirts and pants, pajamas, receiving and baby blankets, frayed bath towels can be cut down to make smaller towels.

Wrapping paper: Consider alternatives that can be reused: Fabric. Cloth drawstring bags. Dishtowels. Re-use existing wrapping paper, paper bags or newspaper. Look for post-consumer recycled wrapping paper.

Consider your wood furniture: You can save trees by refinishing furniture. When shopping for new furniture look for those made with recycled or reclaimed wood.  There are excellent tips in this article form PlanetGreen.com, Learn How to Find Eco-Friendly Wood Furniture.

Related videos:

  • Trees Cut Home Energy Costs – Home improvement expert Danny Lipford shows how trees cut 25% on your energy bill as well as beautify your home.
  • Reduce Home Heat & AC Bills – Tips to reduce your home heating and air conditioning bills, from planting trees to using eco friendly light bulbs and more from EnStar’s Bill Stack and Growing Wisdom’s Dave Epstein.
  • Eco Chic Gift Wrap & Packaging Ideas – Go creative & go eco when wrapping presents & getting packages ready for shipping. Creative, inexpensive, & practical green from eco expert, Rachel Avalon.

Related articles:

Link to this article: http://is.gd/nBMAL3

 

8 Earth Saving and Money Saving Household Tips

Earth Day: April 22

We’ve been eco-conscious for decades (more decades than we care to mention.) We consider ourselves to be fairly eco-friendly, and are happy to do our bit in terms of recycling, reusing, repurposing, shopping eco-friendly whenever possible, planting trees over and above our carbon footprint; and we do know that being green also adds up to some real decent money savings, which makes us even happier… and even still, while grocery shopping recently, we came across one astonishing little fact that really took us back. Printed on the front of a plastic bag of brown rice was the following fact:

Removing the plastic re-sealable zipper on our packages saves over 30,000 tons of waste in landfills per month.

Woa! Thirty-thousand tons of garbage per month saved by eliminating one little zipper on a package of rice. This is astonishing proof positive that doing one little thing does really add up to make a big difference.

Here are some ultra-easy ideas that you can use inside and outside your home every day that will add up to a substantial benefit for the earth, the environment and your health, and in addition, will quickly add up to some solid savings in your wallet:

Ceiling Fans: You can use ceiling fans to help save on both cooling and heating.   According to Progress-Energy, an energy provider in the U.S. Carolinas and Florida, a 48″, 75-watt fan used 10 hours a day at half speed or less would cost $.50 to $.90 a month to operate. For a 1,500-square-foot house with air conditioning using two ceiling fans and raising the thermostat setting could save about $140 to $400 a year, and possibly even more in areas where energy rates are higher.

  • More keeping cool tips in this video: Beat the Heat Green Tips – Tips to beat the heat with fans and AC while saving money and the planet from green advocate, Umbra.

Cutting back on eating meat from every day to every other day would save you approximately $37 a month. Going completely vegetarian could add up to about $600 a year according to the Frugally Green blog.  And this figure does not include the added money savings you could receive from eating a healthier diet, by saving on possible reduced hospital, surgery, and medication expenses.

  • This clip gives a simple, budget-friendly vegetarian recipe: Spice Crusted Tofu Sandwiches – A money saving, healthy sandwich idea from Mollie Katzen, author ofGet Cooking cookbook.

Simple household changes can make our homes more eco-efficient, even older homes. We’ve all heard this thousands of times. But sometimes it comes down to real dollar savings to make us finally take action.  One example:  according to the host of Renovation Nation TV show, Steve Thomas, sealing and insulating your home could save you 30% of your heating and cooling bills.  If everyone did this, it would be equal to shutting down 90 power plants!

  • In this video, Easy Green Money Saving, Steve Thomas shows more easy everyday eco-ideas, and how much money savings they add up to.

Not everyone can line-dry their laundry. Energy Miser 101 blog figures that using a gas clothes dryer for 40 min. a day equals close to $100 a year. Using dryer balls can save 25 to 40% on your clothes dryer energy use and they are a great alternative to chemical fabric softeners. Dryer balls are easy to use; you simply place them right along with your wet clothes into the clothes dryer.

  • There are many types of dryer balls available, but here in this video, Save Energy & Money on Clothes Drying, Steffany Boldrini of ecobold.com shows these made of wool, the only natural ones we’ve found.

Choosing to plant native perennials and evergreens can be a real money-saver. Not only are they more pest-resistant, but they also have adapted to the local climate range and conditions, which could lead to a savings in your water bill alone of up to 50%.

  • Enjoy a healthier enviornment right in your own backyard with the tips in this video: Backyard Eco Tips – Here are simple tips you can use to make your yard more user & eco-friendly.

Petroleum and synthetic chemical based pesticides can be quite costly.  And hiring a service to come spray and treat your yard and garden can also be expensive. Try using your own simple, more natural spray first, you could save thousands of dollars. Well worth a try.

  • Easy inexpensive  DIY natural insecticide for garden pests in this video: Homemade Natural Insecticide from Tips.net’s Kaylee Thurman.

Reuse what you already have on hand as pet care items. Pet toys and cleaning products can be expensive. You can save some money while keeping some of your trash out of the landfill for a little longer by reusing worn items like cotton towels and rubber gloves to make toys and cleaning products for your pets.

  • Reuse some common household items to create easy pet toys and cleaning products. Jane Monzures gives tips in this video: DIY Recycled Pet Care Products.

Your Entertainment can take its toll on the environment and your wallet. Consumer advocate, Stacy Johnson, reports that over 100,000 DVDs are thrown away each month at an average cost of $16 each! That’s a lot for a landfill and for your wallet. There are alternatives to keep you entertained and cost you less.

  • Save money on entertainment and also be eco-friendly.  This clip, Green Saving: Entertainment gives tips from Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News.

More Eco and Money Saving Tips in our Previous Posts:

Link to this article: http://is.gd/dLHLvb

 

We’re Thinking Spring to Save Money & Make Money

We were inspired by a recent post we came across by Gayle Lynn Falkenthal on SanDiegoBargainMama.com – and it’s got us thinking about Spring Shopping and Spring Cleaning!

The article in SanDiegoBargainMama.com’s post is all about San Diego’s biggest garage sale, the annual Thursday Club Rummage Sale, which has been going on for over 85 consecutive years. You know if this has been going on for that long, they must be on to something big!  In fact, it’s so big, that the folks at SanDigeoBargainmama have provided a cool post giving insider pointers to save you time shopping and receive the best deals. These tips are great for shopping any tag sale

No matter what the season, shopping previously-owned is a sure way to find quality items, do the environment a favor, and also save some money – an all around win, win, win. And here’s another win: Spring Cleaning!  Really, is there ever a wrong time to clean up, clear out, and cash in?

There’s money in your closets, drawers, garage, attic, and storage units! Take what you aren’t using and recycle it; have a yard or tag sale, list it on freecycle.org, sell it on line, put it on consignment in a boutique selling previously-owned, or donate it — all easy ways to turn something you’re not using into something wonderful for someone else, and your wallet… definitely a win!

More money-saving and money-making ideas in our posts:

Link to this article: http://is.gd/nyiHSq

 

9 DIY Gift Ideas – Home Accessories from Recycled Items

Spruce up your space, (or create a great gift) with a little do-it-yourself. Here are easy-to-do eco-friendly projects that will turn those tired household objects you’re thinking of tossing out into beautiful and useful home accessories. They make great gift ideas, too!

Make a Vase from Magazine Pages – Recycle your old magazines by creating a vase, bowl or vessel using nothing more than glue and pages from a magazine. This video gives an easy DIY tutorial.

Home Decor Recycle DIY – Easily repurpose thrift store purchases or items from around your home… sometimes all you need is a little spray paint! Decorator Susan Phillips shows DIY home decor transformation ideas in this clip.

Repurpose Home Decor Items – This video from designer Soshana Gosselin gives easy ways to freshen up your home decor by repurposing, recycling and re-inventing items you already have.

DIY Cans to Votive Holders – This segment shows a simple DIY craft recycling project to transform an empty aluminum can into a votive holder. All you need is an empty can and scissors!

A Basket from Magazine Paper – Recycle your old magazines with this easy DIY craft project to create a cool and stylish multi-use basket out of nothing more than magazine pages and glue! Easy how-to directions in this clip.

Chinese Takeout Lantern DIY – Crafter Shiho Masuda transforms Chinese takeout containers into mini tabletop lanterns. Beautiful video shows DIY recycling craft directions to brighten your dining or coffee table.

Make a Book Safe – Take an old book and recycle it into a secret place to store precious or favorite items. A clever gift idea, or double a gift’s goodness by using this as an eco-friendly gift box! Video shows how you can do it.

Make a Vase from A Plastic Soda Bottle – Eco-friendly DIY: Create a vase from a plastic soda bottle. Simple DIY in this clip provides instructions. All you need is a bottle, scissors and rocks. Consider displaying several together in various sizes and colors. Add flowers and it’s complete! Makes nice gift!

Soda Can Lantern DIY – This clip shows how to make a recycled DIY lantern/candle holder out of a soda can. Extremely simple to do. (Be careful of sharp edges when pulling out the strips).

You might also like:

Link to this article: http://is.gd/7M382g


 

6 Fabulous Fashion Accessories – DIY Gifts Your Friends & Family Will Love

Turn your clutter into fabulous! These easy do-it-yourself craft projects use items you may already have or can easily collect or find and transforms them into attractive fashionable accessories. These make unique, eco-friendly and virtually free gift ideas, too!

Turn a Book into a Handbag – Curbly.com shows how to create a DIY custom, colorful purse by recycling a vintage hard-covered book cover and fabric. This takes a little sewing savvy, but the results are cool.

Make Your Own Beads from Paper – Easy recycling DIY from Threadbanger.com shows how to create beads for necklaces, bracelets, and more using old magazines, newspapers, or wrapping paper.

Necklace from Magazine Pages – Makeup artist, crafter and vlogger from VenusOcean.blogspot.com shows how to create a necklace from old magazines. A fun super simple family-friendly project  that costs almost nothing to make!

DIY Necklace from Pantyhose – Inspired by the book, P.S. I Made This by Erica Domesek, Earth911.com’s Jennifer Berry shows how to create a fashionable elegant or campy necklace with this easy DIY project using recycled  hosiery, scissors & found items from around your house.

Use Plastic Bags to Make Cool Things – Etsy Labs Technician Anda Lewis shows us how to fuse plastic shopping bags together to create a material you can sew together and use as you would a sturdy water-resistant fabric. Make a reusable shopping bag, messenger bag, cosmetic bag, guitar straps, belts… you name it!

DIY Bracelets and More from Pop Tabs – A creative bracelet is just one of many items you can make out of soda pop tabs! A creative eco-friendly and versatile project that you can use to make belts, earrings, we’ve even seen purses and tote-bags out of pop tabs as well! A fun gift idea great for guys or gals!

You might also like:

Link to this article: http://is.gd/Vj9UcS

 

Profit from Reselling Books

If you’ve suddenly become inspired and find yourself sweeping out the cobwebs and clearing out that overgrown collection of books (like we were after reading Bargainbabe.com’s article on “Making Money from Spring Cleaning”) we’ve got some ideas to help you free up your shelves in no time with tips on how to resell those dusty books and make a few extra dollars, or donate them; either way you’ll benefit!

Consider a tag sale, yard sale or garage sale. Price specific unique or in-demand books individually. For the others, you can move them quicker if you have a flat rate, ie: All books on this table, $2 each. Or move them even quicker with a bundle flat rate which would be something like, $4 to fill a bag or box full of books from a designated table or pile.

What doesn’t sell you can donate to a local library, school, literacy program or Goodwill. There are also online options for donation (see links below). Either way, be sure to get a receipt of your donation to use for a tax deduction.

If you simply want to get rid of them as quickly and as easily as possible, put them in a box on the curb with a sign that says “Free Books.”

One of the biggest book expenses are College textbooks. These are particularly expensive, and most likely only used once. Here are some options to save money on college textbooks:

  • Rent them.
  • Purchase used college textbooks.
  • Resell textbooks when you have finished with them which allows you to recoup some of your initial expense.

But reselling textbooks isn’t always as easy as one would think. Most colleges do offer buy-back programs, but they are often cumbersome to navigate, and many are only in operation during specific times. Online is a great option for all types of book reselling, but particularly for college textbooks; it’s available 365-days a year and 24-hours a day.

There are many websites that buy used booksof all types, from college textbooks to fiction and non-fiction to  journals, magazines and brochures to comics. Some sites will buy directly from you. On other websites you are listing your books to sell directly to a specific buyer, more like listing your products “For Sale by Owner.”

Whether you are selling directly to a company, or listing them for sale by owner you’ll want to pay attention to these tips:

  • Of course, knowing the best time to sell your textbooks online will give you an edge for the highest prices. Have your books ready to go and get them listed during peak buying times – August, September, January and February.
  • Try to resell your textbook as soon as possible or you risk the professor of the course changing their course structure and replacing the textbook with another.
  • Feature a picture
  • List the SKU number and/or ISBN number
  • Site unique aspects, like if it’s a rare or a signed edition.
  • Describe which edition it is, what language it is in, and if it is a U.S. version or another country’s.
  • If you are responsible for paying shipping costs, find out what that will cost you ahead of time.

Be prepared to rate the condition. Here are about.com’s book condition descriptions:

  • Brand New, Excellent – The book looks brand-new with no wear and tear. You have all the original packaging, documentation and software.
  • Almost New, Like New– The book looks new, with no wear and tear, but you may not have the original packaging.  All documentation and software are available.
  • Very Good – The book is slightly used but there is no wear and tear or damage. All documentation and software are available.
  • Good-The book is visibly used but still in presentable condition without tears or damage. Some of the documentation and software may be included.
  • Fair, Acceptable – The book shows signs of being used. Some pages are bent, cover may be damaged, there is some underlining or notes. Some manuals, documentation, and software may be included.
  • Poor– The book can be read but it is worn or torn. Some pages may be heavily highlighted, cover may be damaged, pages may be missing. A book like this is better donated than sold.

Sites where you can list your books for sale by owner: These charge a small fee to the seller: ebay,  half.com,  amazon.com/marketplace. These are free to the seller:  craigslist.orgfacebook.com/marketplace.

What you don’t sell, donate. What you don’t donate, recycle. You can recycle paperbacks just as they are.  For hardcover books you must first rip off the hardcovers and throw the covers away; you can recycle the text block (the book that remains after you’ve taken off the covers and spine). For spiral-bound books, the spiral bind must be removed and properly discarded or recycled; any plastic cover should be tossed or recycled appropriately; remaining paper pages can be recycled along with your other paper goods.

Here are some great sites for reselling, renting , buying , or donating yourbooks:

BIGWORDS – is a search comparison site which compares the best book stores all at once to find the cheapest books on the planet to buy, rent, sell or donate. They feature searches for textbooks as well as regular books (They also search for loans, DVD’s, music and games.) Instead of finding one price for one item at a time, BIGWORDS takes all of your items, runs every combination of those items at every store, automatically calculates coupons, promotions, and shipping, and shows you the best possible combination of stores to save you the most money. They also partner with BetterWorld Books to accept donations to benefit literacy programs.

BetterWorldBooks.comYou can sell or donate your books to BetterWorldBooks.com. They cover shipping costs. You can purchase books from them too. They are headquartered in Indiana, where they maintain a retail store and an outlet store. They also offer online shopping at BetterWorldBooks.com online. A portion of the proceeds from their resales is donated to literacy programs & libraries throughout the world.

WeBuyTextbooks.com –  They buy used college textbooks. They cover shipping costs. They issue payment to you within two days of their receipt of books either through Paypal or by a check via conventional mail. They resell books via sister sites:  www.BunchesofBooks.com and www.TextbookLink.com.

MyBookBuyer.com – Sell them your textbooks, and other books like best-sellers, trade paper, cookbooks, reference, technical, mass market paperbacks, arts & crafts, and much more! They cover shipping costs. You receive payment through Paypal within 3 days of their receipt of books, or by check via regular mail in 7 days.

This tip came from BargainBabe.com writer Yazmin Cruz in her article “Making Money from Spring Cleaning” “There are a lot of sites to sell textbooks, but CKYbooks.com also buys fiction and nonfiction books. They pay for the shipping and later send you a check. Cha-ching!”

More tips in these videos:

More in these related articles:

And more in the Garage/Yard Sale section of the SLTV House & Home Channel.

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Clear Out & Cash In on Old Electronic Devices

We are constantly upgrading and updating our electronics. Every month there is a new model or even an entirely new gadget. Some frugal folks keep every device as long as possible until there’s absolutely no hope of it ever working again. Others need to be connected via the newest mode. Either way, no one wants to throw money away. By clearing out your old electronics to make way for more room on your shelves or to get the newest gadget, you just might be able to bring in a little extra money, receive a tax donation credit and help the planet all at once. Here’s how:

Toss ‘Em – NOT: If you are not interested in bringing in a little extra cash, receiving credit, or donating your electronics to charity, please please please don’t just toss ’em. Electronics contain very toxic elements. It may be easy to think that our one little electronic device, like a cell phone for example, won’t matter if we simply toss it in the trash, but we’d be wrong.  In MSN reporter Liz Weston’s article on cell phones she writes: “The average user gets a new phone about every 18 months,” said James Mosieur, CEO of CellForCash.com, “and they end up retiring the old one.” … It’s estimated there are over 200-million cell phone subscribers in the United States alone. “Californians, for example, throw away 44,000 cell phones every day.” (that’s a lot of cell phones!) With figures like that, it’s clear that properly disposing of electronic equipment loaded with metals and other hazardous materials is critical to our health and the health of our planet. By taking just a few moments you can either properly dispose of your electronics or recycle them.

  • Check with your local city government on how to properly dispose of your equipment (see more tips in section below: batteries).
  • All major wireless carriers have recycling programs for cell phones.
  • Staples offers recycling for computers and office technology in their U.S. stores. Staples offers this service free of charge except for large equipment which carries a $10 fee, however you receive a $10 Staples gift card to compensate for the charge. Staples Easy Tech(sm) service is on site in all stores to transfer data from an old computer to a new one for a fee.
  • Best Buy’s U.S. stores have free kiosks, just inside the Best Buy door, for you to drop off ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, and wires, cords and cables.

Take it in or Trade in: This is a common option for cell phones and is starting to show up as an option for computers as well. These differ somewhat from buy-back programs in that you don’t have to enroll or pay a fee to be able to trade in. Ask your carrier or manufacturer, you may be able to trade in your mobile phone or computer for a credit toward an upgrade. A program called ecoNEW offers consumers the ability to trade in a gadget for credit at a partnering retailer, such as Sam’s Club. The folks at Coinstar (the ones who have the coin machines and Redbox DVD machines) have a new machine called ecoATM where you drop off old electronics at one of the machines; it calculates their value, then pays you on the spot, in cash or coupons.

Buy-Back Programs: To cash-in on the growing market for refurbished electronics and consumers desiring to continuously upgrade their electronics, some retailers like Best Buy offer buy-back programs at the time of initial purchase or shortly after. Radio Shack and CompUSA also offer these through partnership with TechForward. Consumers can purchase plans directly through TechForward’s website as well. These buy-back programs may sound appealing at first glance, but read the fine print and the ultra-fine print carefully to determine if this program really is worth the possible $70 or so it may cost you.

Be Advised: Before you discard or turn over any computerized electronic equipment, be sure to do a “hard wipe” of the memory on computers, and a “hard reset” on cell phones, and be certain all personal information has been purged. This goes beyond a simple reset or what you have simply dragged to the Trash. If you need assistance with this, call the company for directions; or for computers, consider using a professional data-recovery firm. If you’re thinking of including any software with your sale you’ll need to find out if there are any possible copyright restrictions that would prevent a resale.

Sell it yourself: You can try to sell your electronics yourself directly to an individual through websites. Sites like Amazon.com/marketplace and ebay.com charge sellers a small fee. There are free-to-use sites like craigslist.org, gadgetvalue.com, and facebook.com/marketplace. Be sure to have all the details about the model number, hard drive, video card, CD/DVD reader, motherboard, etc. Include photos. Describe the condition it’s in.  Include any extras like power cords, charging cords, batteries, headphones, bluetooth accessories, installation software. etc. Include instruction manuals and original packaging if you can.

Prepare your device: You’ll find just about everything you need to know about preparing to recycle or resell your old computers and devices from clearing memory to finding hard drive capacity to proper packaging for shipping in these articles from TechSoup.org and AndoverCG.com.

Sell directly to a Web site. They usually cover shipping costs. You receive payment within a couple of days after their receipt of your equipment either through PayPal or a check by conventional mail. Many sites will also accept your device as a charitable donation. If you donate, remember to retain your receipt to use for a deduction at tax time. All sites claim to properly recycle any products that can no longer be used.

Batteries: Just like electronics, batteries also rank high on the hazardous waste meter. Parts of batteries may be recyclable, other parts are toxic. In an ABC News article Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste says, “It is a big problem. We’ve got over 34,000 tons of household batteries getting disposed in California’s trash every year. That’s a lot of hazardous material.”

The longer you can extend the life of your batteries, the more money you’ll save and the more you’ll keep out of the recycling and trash stream. One way to do this is to use rechargeables.  Two AA Ni-Cad rechargeable batteries can replace up to 600 single-use batteries. Rechargeables still need to be properly recycled and disposed of when they have been completely used up, but you’ll use fewer altogether.

For more on where to dispose of batteries: Environment, Health and Safety Online provides a wealth of information, and Earth 911 allows you to search by zip code or city for recycling centers near you. You can also contact your local city or town government to find out where and how to safely dispose of batteries. Best Buy and  Staples offer free recycling of rechargeable batteries in all of their U.S. stores.

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Eight Eco-Friendly Happy Holiday Ideas

Have a grand and green holiday season and save money while doing it! These simple pointers will continue to give back for generations to come as they help you protect the earth and protect your loved ones from unnecessary pollution, waste, and toxins… perfect for anyone’s holiday wish lists! Here are classy creative tips that are easy, fun and budget-friendly for greeting cards, gifts, gift wrapping, shipping, dining, and decorating to have the happiest holiday season ever.

Celebrate Eco-Friendly Holidays – Have an eco-friendlier holiday! Parents TV Host, Juli Auclair, speaks to the authors of  Celebrate Green Lynn Colwell & Corey Colwell-Lipson, about wrapping paper, lights, decorations, table settings, ornaments & gifts.

Creative Recycled Wrapping –  Eco friendly ideas to personalize your gift wrapping using recycled materials, and that vintage creative print decorating staple, the potato, from Threadbanger.

Eco Chic Gift Wrap & Packaging Ideas – Go creative & go eco when wrapping presents & getting packages ready for shipping. Creative, inexpensive, & practical green tips from Rachel Avalon.

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas – 5 Top Eco-friendly and budget-friendly gift ideas from Steffany Boldrini and the creative folks at EcoBold.com.

Eco-Friendly Shipping Package Ideas – Use eco-friendly cushioning & repurpose shipping boxes for your gifts while making them more attractive at the same time! Clever Ideas from TapeSwell decorative tapes.

Green Gifts and Holiday Tips –  Affordable eco-friendly gifts ideas & easy pointers on enjoying a greener holiday dinner as well, from Global Action Plan CEO, Trewin Restorick.

Green Holiday Tips – Owen Bailey from the Sierra Club gives pointers to make the Holidays greener, which may also keep a little more green in your pocket! Tips on trees, lights, & gift wrap.

Repurposed Magazine Tree Centerpiece – Don’t toss old magazines, go green and use them to create elegant holiday centerpiece decorations with this ultra easy eco-friendly DIY craft  idea.

More green and eco tips and recources in our post:

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15 Almost Free Easy DIY Gift Ideas

One of the all-time top easy and free gift ideas is to give a “personal gift certificate” that is good for a something friends or family members might value, for example: I will cook dinner for a week, including shopping and clean-up chores. Or, 4-weeks lawn mowing and weeding the garden. We love that idea, and it’s easy to be creative with it, but we’ve come up with some additional creative gift items that not only would make your friends and family happy, but are almost zero cost to you. Yes, that’s right, these will virtually cost you nothing, yep, practically free to you!

The key to virtually free gift ideas is to use what you may already have, pieces you’ve collected, objects from your yard, left over craft supplies, hardware washers, nuts and bolts, items you’ve been given, your own fabric from linens, table cloths, clothing, etc. and in addition, also take advantage of free samples, of all types. (Just be sure to make certain a deposit is not required before using the samples as is often the case with fabric or carpet). Collect all the free samples you can and combinie what you already have from around the house, the garage or attic, maybe add in a couple of affordable purchased items, and create something new.  Continue to collect throughout the year, and you’ll have enough on hand to create several meaningful gifts for birthdays, thank you’s, hostess gifts, and holiday presents. In our suggestions here, we’ve added a few ideas for embellishments, and of course there’s no limit to what you could add in. Retail gift certificates (you can purchase them from someplace like groupon.com at a discount), gift cards you may have gotten from “free gift card” promotional offers, or add on your own “I’ll cook dinner for a week, including clean up chores” coupon… always sure to please!

So, here they are,  enjoy!

Tiles, Stones, Fabric, Buttons, Broken China, Nuts and Bolts, etc. :

Decorative Frame: Take a plain wooden frame and glue onto it fabric, tile, buttons, china pieces, dried pasta, paper clips, spoons and forks , there’s no  limit to what you can use… Don’t forget to put in a photo, or keepsake, or mirror… Simple!

Create a Cool Framed Art Piece: Make a collage with glue and fabric pieces, or  other items you have on hand like buttons, trading cards, photographs, cut up cereal boxes,etc. and make a custom art piece by gluing onto cardboard.  Be sure to have a specific frame ahead of time and pre-cut the cardboard so it will fit the frame when you’re finished. Easy!

A Table Runner: Sew fabric pieces together for a table runner. And you can easily make napkin rings to match!  A set of coasters would really complete this gift!

House Address Plaque: If you don’t have a board, you can purchase an inexpensive small plain wooden plaque from the hardware or hobby store. Stain or paint it or leave natural. Glue on tiles, pieces of broken china, buttons, sea shells, stones, or nuts and bolts to create the house number…  done!

Serving Tray: Using the same technique as the house address plaque, decorate a larger board or plaque, for handles just screw on a drawer pull on either side, and use as a serving tray! Include some cheeses and breads for an even more festive gift!

Carpet Samples:

Custom Floor Mat: Use carpet tape to tape pieces together for a unique custom floor mat.

Dog or Cat Gift: Combine with a bag or box of homemade dog cookies and a new collar or tennis balls. Or make catnip sachets (see below beauty products, but fill with catnip) and a bag or box of homemade pet cheese treats. Woof and Meow!

Scrap Wood, Branches, Pine Cones:

Rustic Bird Feeders: Use scrap wood pieces to make a simple bird feeder.  You can also make an easy pine cone bird feeder. First tie a piece of yarn, string or wire around the top. Next, spread the cone with peanut butter and then roll in birdseed. Kids love making this one. Enhance this gift with a bag of birdseed and a bird watching book for years of enjoyment to come.

Towel Bars or Jewelry Holders: Sandpaper the branches so they are smooth. Fasten on attachments to secure to the wall for towel holders, or attach the base of the branch to a wooden plaque so it stands up; this can then be used for holding jewelry or guest towels.  Add a couple of guest hand towels to complete the package for a simple yet dramatic decor statement. (you can purchase a wooden base/plaque from the hardware or hobby store if you don’t have already on hand)

Fire Starter Kit: Drip scented candle wax on pine cones (you’ve been saving candle ends and scraping from glass candle jars, right?) Bundle them in a piece of fabric, or make a bag, and tie closed with twine. Take a bundle of small kindling branches wrap around and tie with twine. Give the scented pine cones together with the kindling branches for a nice fire starter package. Add Marshmellows and popcorn (maybe a DVD?) and you’re set!

Decorative Frame: As mentioned above with tile and fabric, you can also do the same with nature objects. Take a plain wooden frame and glue the pine cones, or sea shells, or twigs, or stones onto it. And of course, don’t forget to put in a photo, keepsake, or mirror.

Beauty Products, Lotions, Perfumes, Shampoos, etc.

Spa Gift Gags: Purchase inexpensive canvas bags from a hobby store or create your own using fabric. Fill with a variety of free samples.You can also easily make your own sugar or salt scrubs! And to further enrich your gift, add in a little cosmetic mirror, a few hair clips, a colorful bath sponge or loofa, pumice stone, and a scented candle.

Potpouri: Take perfume samples (if they are cards just cut up the cards into little pieces). Collect (or purchase from hobby shop) dried leaves, little pine cones, wood chips, dried orange, lemon, and lime peals, dried flower petals, etc.  Sprinkle with the perfume, or mix in the perfumed card cut up pieces. Place the dried items into a pretty jar (of course you’ve been saving them up), or place in a piece of fabric and wrap a rustic piece of twine around the top and tie into a bow, or a us a colored ribbon.

Sachets: You can make little sachets to place in drawers, suitcases, and to hang on door handles. Take fabric and gather around a cotton ball that’s been sprinkled with the perfume from samples, gather the fabric and tie with twine, string, yarn or ribbon. Leave enough to make a nice bow or to hang over a door knob.  Put together several of these in a pretty box (perhaps covered in matching fabric?) and you’re set!

Clothing, Hats, Jewlery, Make up, Purses, Briefcases

Dress Up Kits for Kids: Decorate a really bog box with fabric, buttons, ribbons, pictures from magazine, etc. Put inside: clean hats, suit coats, sport jackets, vests, dresses, skirts, shirts, blouses, gloves, shoes, aprons,costume jewlery, briefcases, purses, wallets, sunglasses, scarfs, watches, old keys, make up samples, razors with out blades, you name it… include an unbreakable mirror, and kids will stay busy in Dress-Up -Land for hours! (For dresses, skirts, pants and slacks: to prevent tripping, cut off length to shorten.)

More creative gift and present ideas in our post: The Gift… Basket?

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