October 17, 2012

Help the Environment and Save Money with Refurbished Smartphones

The smartphone industry is developing at a rapid pace with the vast majority of people on Earth now owning at least one phone. While some people are content to keep the same phone for many years until it dies a natural death, there are possibly an equal number of people who feel compelled to have the very latest piece of smartphone technology such as the latest iPhone contract or Android phone. In today’s world of technology ‘the very latest’ can change from month to month.

One corollary of this fast changing world of technology is that it causes a huge amount of waste, with hundreds of millions of handsets being dumped in landfills each year. Many people will feel compelled to upgrade to a new device once their contract has ended and will simply throw an old phone in the bin rather than put it to some good use, especially if it is a particularly old phone.

The problem here is that mobile phones contain many obnoxious chemicals and it is probably not good for future generations if we keep dumping them in landfills. These chemicals are what are referred to as ‘leachates’, which can leak out from a landfill and contaminate surrounding areas. Some of the leachates found in phones include lead, copper, nickel, antimony and zinc which can wreak havoc on lakes and rivers.

Then there is also the cost to the environment of sourcing these chemicals in the first place, with all the health impacts and child labour involved. There are specific dangers for phone production, with many people working in manufacturing plants in Asia suffering from muscular degeneration and damaged eyesight due to chemicals such as n-hexane used in phone production.

Now there are companies who will recycle your old phone when it is no longer wanted, helping to prevent a lot of damage to our environment. They can either take the phone apart and strip it of its components with the aim of using them again in future products, or they can give them a bit of a clean-up (‘refurbish’) and then sell them on to emerging economies.

But while many of these refurbished phones will make their way into the developing world they can also be a great option for people living in the developed world too. Aside from perhaps a few cosmetic blemishes refurbished phones can provide exactly the same experience as a brand new smartphone. The added benefit is that they will cost significantly less to purchase.

Recycling old phones in this manner can help to cut down on the waste associated with mobile phone usage and also help individuals to save money when buying a new handset. Although it is not always possible to buy the very latest handset from phone recyclers, you can still obtain fairly recent devices that are in excellent condition. If you are not bothered about having the very latest device, want to save some money on your next phone and help the environment in the process then a refurbished mobile phone deal may be something that you should consider.

Green Home Security Systems

There are many ways to make your home eco-friendly; you can install solar panels, set up a recycling center in your garage, purchase reclaimed furnishings, and even opt for organic textiles for all of your linens and clothing.  But when it comes to finding an environmentally friendly security system to ensure the safety of your family, you might be left scratching your head.  Alarm systems require electricity, as do surveillance cameras, flood lights, and just about every other security measure you can think of off the top of your head.  But believe it or not, there are green options when it comes to protecting your home.  Here are a few you may want to look into.

The first thing you can do is secure the perimeter.  A fence with locking gates will deter most trespassers and large animals that could cause trouble.  And locks on windows and deadbolts on doors don’t require any electricity (although you do have to use them in order to get the full benefit).  But these minimal measures may not warn you of a home invasion in time to protect you.  You might need something more.

One eco-friendly option is a guard dog.  Your pet need not be just another member of the family; with proper training, man’s best friend could save your life.  Many people fear that a guard dog will one day turn on member of the family, but you don’t have to train your dog to attack (although you certainly could).  All he has to do is warn you when intruders are in the home.  And you can even turn your pet ownership into an eco-friendly pursuit by feeding him local, organic meats and vegetables and composting his droppings.

But if you’re not exactly a pet person, or you don’t like the idea of using an animal as a protector, there are still options.  You can install motion-sensor floodlights around your home that are entirely powered by the sun.  Or you could use alternative sources of energy to power an alarm system (if you already use this type of power in your home you can just jack in the system).  But even easier than that is to contract with a home security company that embraces eco-friendly practices.

ADT, for example, launched their Vital World Initiative last year with a pledge to begin using recycled parts in all new systems they install (and as part of any upgrades to older home security systems).  This includes precious metals and electrical components (amongst other items) salvaged from landfills (to the tune of over 50 tons a year).  So simply selecting the right alarm company could constitute a green choice when it comes to safety in the home.

While it may be a little more difficult to retain an eco-friendly attitude when securing your home against invasion, as anything worth doing takes a bit more effort, you certainly can find ways to do so, as you can make all areas of your life greener.  And if you’re truly committed to making the world a safer place for future generations you can definitely start by greening up your home safety precautions.

The Best Green Apps Out There

While our smart phones may get a bad rap for not being the most eco-friendly made products on the market today (not going to argue that), they aren’t entirely all bad.  In fact, with the plethora of “green apps” available for users today, they can enable anyone and everyone to make greener and smarter choices on everything from where to take your recycling to the best recipes for your local and seasonal produce! Here are my Top 6 Favorites.

1)      PedNav

Take PedNav with you wherever you go as your very own super green, super smart travel planner!  Punch in everything you must do: hit up Café Nova, grab groceries downtown, drop off your recycling and catch the late night movie.  Then sit back and relax as PedNav creates an itinerary for you complete with time ordered listings and the best means of transportation to get you there.  It’ll take into consideration your schedule, the most eco-friendly options of transportation (bus/trains/etc.) and get you there without wasting time or covering unnecessary traveling distance.

2)      iRecycle
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Created by Earth911 to give you the most up-to-date information on over 800,000 recycling and disposal centers for over 240 materials.  Check what you want to recycle (automotive, batteries, construction, electronics, garden, glass, hazardous, household, metal, pain, paper, plastic, etc.) and it will tell you where you need to go, when they’re open and if you need to do anything extra.

3)      Farmers Market Finder

While you can find farmers markets on Locavore, the Farmers Market Finder takes it a step further and includes CSAs, open markets and U-Picks (my favorite!).  With over 2,500 entries, you’ll get all the contact info you need and current info on parking, weather cancellations and what’s ready to eat.

4)      Good Guide
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Ready to take your shopping to a whole new level?  The GoodGuide app is one of my all time, no-one-should-live-without recommendations.  It actually scans the barcode of the product in question and provides you with instant ratings for health of the product and the environment and social responsibility of the company!  Over 100,000 products and companies in the database already.  It also lets you make a shopping list for future reference.

5)      Go Green
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Handy-dandy going green tip comes up every time you open this app.  Learn ideas you haven’t thought of/considered before and share them with your friends.

6)      Shop Green
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Find the best deals with personalized promotions from all your local green businesses by entering in data about your lifestyle and green habits.  While we all love getting good deals, it’s that much better when they’re all in line with what our preferences and likes are.

Freelance author Jocelyn Anne writes on a daily basis about the latest trends when it comes to eco-friendly and sustainable living.  She is currently researching the greenest ways to use a portable air conditioner within the office setting.

Benefits of Owning an Eco-Friendly TV

It should come as no surprise that televisions can be huge contributors to your electricity bill.  Not only do they require a lot of energy for use, but most households have one or more television sets on for several hours each day.  This is a sad product of our obsession with technology, and it may be one of the many reasons that more of us seem to have shorter attention spans and fewer personal relationships.  But beyond the blight to our society aside, older televisions are also doing harm to our environment by sucking up energy from providers that are heavy polluters.  Luckily, there’s something you can do to cut down on the toxic waste that your TV is responsible for without having to give up even a minute of viewing.  By simply opting for an eco-friendly TV the next time you buy, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint even as you continue to enjoy the hours of mind-numbing entertainment your television provides.

Before you rush out to buy a green TV, there’s something you should know; they aren’t all equal.  There are different levels of eco-friendliness associated with various types of televisions.  The worst offender by far is a classic tube-style television.  While teenagers may have no memory of these heavy beasts due to the popularity of the modern flat-screen, anyone who had to haul one up a flight of stairs will not soon forget the back-wrenching experience.  Thank goodness those sets are largely out of the picture these days.  They will no longer break our backs, crush our fingers, or guzzle electricity like it’s going out of style.

Then there are plasma and LCD TVs.  These flat-panel beauties haven’t been around too long (relatively speaking), but they’ve certainly made their mark.  In truth, either one will use less electricity than a standard tube television set – provided they are of equal screen size.  The problem is that lightweight, flat-screen technology has made it possible to double, triple, or even further increase the size of the monitor without the attendant heft or need for space.  Since they can hang on a wall or fit on a fairly narrow ledge, more people are opting for larger screens, which definitely increases the power needed.  On one good note, LCDs require only about a third to half of the power needed for a plasma while the picture tends to be better quality, so there’s at least one bonus for choosing the greener option.

But there’s an even better choice hitting the market: the LED TV.  This uses far less energy than the other two options.  However, the technology is still pretty new, so while you will save on your electricity bill down the road, you’ll have to pay a little more up front for this option.  In truth, any of these eco-friendly electronics will save you (and the planet) in the long run.  By opting to ditch your boxy antique and purchase a green flat-screen, you stand to save a lot on your utility bill even as you reduce your carbon footprint.  So spend a little more now and you’ll get a lot in return, both on your next power bill and for the future of the Earth.

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