Monday, June 16, 2008

Trash Bash and Some Cash

Why throw something away if someone else wants it? The old adage that says “one person's trash is another person's treasure” never goes out of date. So when you're looking for some extra spending cash and you want to make some space in your home, combine the two endeavors by selling your stuff instead of donating it or trashing it, or recycling it.

There are plenty of people and places exist to buy what you could be selling instead of giving away or trashing. Here are some places where you can sell your stuff:

  • Antique dealersand collectors: Sell anything from old coins and costume jewelry to old records and toys that are in great shape to dealers. And sometimes not so great shape. I got several offers for an old hand-me down jeweled pocket watch, even with its bit of chipped paint. Dealers often resell your item to make themselves a profit. Be sure to get more than one quote or appraisal before you sell it.

  • Flea Markets: Got a bunch of stuff to sell like books, video tapes, figurines, fake (or real) potted plants, even clothing in good shape? Rent a booth at the nearest flea market that generates a lot of traffic. And flea market shoppers like to haggle. So inflate your prices just a bit so they can strike a bargain with you. It's expected!

  • Classified Ads: Make room for the new couch by selling the old one in your local freebie paper, especially if you're in a college town. Used furnishings are hot sale items to students.

  • Consignment/Resale Shops: If you have discovered that you like walking in fresh air or you stink at tennis, consider giving up your treadmill or tennis rackets in exchange for cash. Sell used sporting goods equipment to stores such as Play it Again; or put it on consignment at such stores. That means if the item sells, the store gets a cut. If it doesn't sell, you're still stuck with it and earn no money.

  • Friends and Co-workers: Sure it's okay to give things away now and then to friends in need. But if you're planning to sell an item and you happen to know a friend, acquaintance or co-worker seeking just such an item, why not give them first purchase option? So keep your ears open for people seeking what you're getting rid of and don't be afraid to say an item is for sale.

You can also turn your trash into treasure with these basic steps on how to recycle, including several online resources.

Start with the curb recycling program in your area. Most now accept plastic bottles #1 and #2, cardboard, aluminum and metal cans, newspaper, computer paper, magazines, catalogs and phone books. Call or check your curb recycling program’s website for the most up-to-date list of acceptable items.

Look for plastic bag recycling bins in your local grocery store, as most curbside recycling programs do not accept them. Better yet, invest in cloth grocery bags to completely eliminate your use of plastic grocery bags at all.

Donate your old electronics to a non-profit, sell them at online stores like Ebay or Amazon, or take them to your local Staples store, which now accepts e-waste products, such as modems, monitors, keyboards, printers, cell phones and more. If you do not have a Staples store in your area, contact your local hazardous waste program for advice. Electronics are often made with toxic substances that are dangerous for landfills, so it is important that you find an alternative means of disposal. Printer cartridges are also recyclable at many office supply stores, including a cash-back incentive on some brands.

Recycle your hazardous materials to keep them out of the landfills. Check with your local auto parts store for recycling car batteries, motor oil, oil filters and antifreeze. Check with your local hardware store for recycling fluorescent light bulbs. For paint, or any other hazardous household materials, contact the hazardous waste program in your area.

  • Recycle your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags in a compost bin that you can use to create a fertilizer for your garden.

Sell or give away any other miscellaneous household items online, such as records, videotapes and books.

The list goes on on how we can turn those trash ito cash. With just a little effort and creativity, you’ll be surprised by just how much you can personally divert from the landfill and we can say that in our own ways, we helped save Mother Earth. So, what are you waiting for? Start scouting those!

Resource: Cecill Artates is an artist, athlete and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, and environmental issues.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Cool Change for Our Oceans

Well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best
The albatross and the whales, they are my brothers
It's kind of a special feeling, when you're out on the sea alone
Starin' at the full a lover.

Guess you're right, sounds quite familiar isn't it? That's part of the lyrics of the song “Cool Change” by an Australian band during the 70s who called themselves as The Little River Band. This band was formed in Melbourne in 1975, and named after a road sign for the Victorian township of Little River, near Geelong. They were the first Australian rock group to enjoy sustained commercial success in the US. The band sold more than 25 million records and scored 13 American Top 40 hits during the height of their careers.

However, I will stop bragging on the achievements of the band at this point, but rather give emphasis on what caught my attention on this lovely song, Cool Change. I like the part, “well I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best',” the most. Quite true for me, since according to my astrological charts, Pisceans are part of the water sign, which also include Cancer and Scorpio.

Somehow, I felt it has been rather odd, why I like to be on the beach, basking on the pleasant warmth of the sun, or staring at the ocean, or walking and singing in the rain. I just love water. I mean, I need water, we all need water, and yes, I feel my best when I'm “soaked” in water.

Every year though, during the month of June, I am delighted to celebrate with other water lovers, Pisceans and not, the World Ocean Day. This is an event wherein people from around the world help keep beaches clean by volunteering their time to preserve shores and engage themselves on various coastal clean-up projects and water activities.

The concept of “World Ocean Day” was first proposed in 1992 by the government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Although not yet officially designated by the United Nations, an increasing number of countries mark June 8th as an opportunity each year to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.

Organizations such as The Ocean Project, working closely with the World Ocean Network each year, helps to coordinate events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations, universities, schools, and businesses. Together with the World Ocean Network, The Ocean Project is also working to have the United Nations officially designate World Ocean Day as June 8th each year.

The World Ocean Day is a great venue to reflect on the ocean's importance in our lives, to learn more about the ocean, and to take time to do something good for our planet. It's up to each of us to help ensure that the ocean is protected and conserved for future generations through positive changes in our daily lives. Positive may be a strong word for some, however, why can't we just follow the title of the song to save our oceans, I guess it's really high time for change.

Resource: Cecill Artates is an artist, athlete and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, water sports, and environmental issues.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An SMS to Recycle

Who doesn't own a mobile phone nowadays? It's one of the most important items that almost every person in the world needs to conduct daily tasks at home, at work, on the road, and just about everywhere that one needs to be in touch. The mobile phone is also one of the most purchased gadgets in the world today. In UK alone, there are currently at least 90 million mobile phone users. Imagine…what would happen to all those 90 million phones when they break down or become obsolete? Many of which will soon be left in drawers or in boxes of junk in the garage or attic.

The tons of plastic and light metal materials that are used for manufacturing cell phones cannot be simply dumped in an open pit. Most of the plastic used for phone making are non-biodegradable. The solution? Recycle mobile phones. It is important that old or broken mobile phones are not just disposed of in a trash bin then transferred to a garbage truck. This is because mobile phones can also contain toxic substances that could pollute the surrounding area and cause severe damage to the environment. There are a number of substances sometimes found in mobile phones which can be dangerous for the both environment and human health if not disposed of appropriately. These include the following:

  • Cadmium - Although it is now being phased out, cadmium is a substance that is often found in old mobile phone batteries. Even though it is found in relatively small quantities, there is enough cadmium in a single mobile phone battery to contaminate over 600,000 litres of water.

  • Beryllium - Beryllium is a substance used in mobile phone contacts and springs which can cause lung damage.

  • Lead - Lead is often used to solder components onto the circuit boards of mobile phones. Lead can affect the nervous system, the immune system, and can even cause brain damage to children.

  • Brominated Flame Retardant - Brominated flame retardants are sometimes used to protect circuit boards and the plastic cases of mobile phones. These substances have been linked with both liver damage and cancer.

Research shows that only less than 20 percent of mobile phones are being reused or recycled. But there are many quick and easy ways of doing so. To keep our mobile phones environment-friendly, we can always:

  • Sell - Of course, it is possible to sell them through websites such as, especially if the mobile phone is still functional. This is a useful way to dispose of your good old mobile phones while making a few dollars out of it.

  • Free - There are other exciting initiatives that offer a great way to both pass unwanted goods on and also to source new items. An example of this is, which is an international service that allows users to post onto their area site details of unwanted goods that other users can come and collect. Several sites including, ReCellular, and MyGreenElectronics offer to buy back and recycle mobile phones from users.

  • Charity - There are some charities that work on behalf of certain disadvantaged groups and are always on the look out for reasonable quality used goods.

There are more than 500 million used mobile phones in the US sitting on shelves or in landfills, and it is estimated that over 125 million will be discarded this year alone. The problem is growing at a rate of more than two million phones per week, putting tons of toxic waste into landfills daily. If you have an old mobile phone and are not using them, don't leave them in your drawers, free them and you can likewise free the environment and yourself from hazardous toxic wastes.

Resource: Cecill Artates is an artist and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, women empowerment, and protection of the environment.

Recycling Overseas E-Waste

What do you do to your old computer or cell phones? Do you put them in the trash right away? Do you know what happens to them afterwards? Do you think these items are recycled? If you don't know what happens to your old electronic gadgets after you throw them away, chances are, you are guilty of contributing to a global trade in electronic trash that endangers workers and pollutes the environment overseas.

While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India, and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners, and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables. In the process, these workers expose themselves to harmful substances even as these junk become cocktail of toxic chemicals that pollute the environment.

Recycling industry officials say that the gear most likely to be shipped abroad is collected at free recycling drives, often held each April around Earth Day. The sponsors which are usually composed of companies, schools, cities, and counties, often hire the cheapest firms and do not ask enough questions about what becomes of the discarded equipment. Many so-called recyclers simply sell the working units and components, then give or sell the remaining scrap to export brokers.

The problem could get worse. Most of the old electronics discarded annually by Americans goes to U.S. landfills, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. But a growing number of states are banning such waste from landfills, which could drive more waste into the recycling stream and fuel exports.

Many brokers claim they are simply exporting used equipment for reuse in poor countries. That’s what happened in Hong Kong last year, when customs officials were tipped off by environmentalists and intercepted two freight containers. They cracked the containers open and found hundreds of old computer monitors and televisions discarded by Americans thousands of miles away. China bans the import of electronic waste, so the containers were sent back to the U.S.

The company that shipped out the containers was based in Tennessee was a subsidiary of a Chinese company. The general manager said his company thought it was buying and shipping used computers, not old monitors and televisions, and is trying to get its money back.

There’s a huge market for second-hand computers among developing countries. People from these countries welcome these products since more often than not, they are priced lower than the brand new ones.

Activists complain that most exporters don’t test units to make sure they work before sending them overseas. They say that “reuse” is the new passport for export, which other countries are receiving these equipments under the pretext that it's all going to be reused. At the other end, at customs, the goods don’t always get checked either.

Environmentalists say that it is impossible to stop and check every single container imported into other countries such as Hong Kong, since smugglers may also deliberately declare their waste as goods. Last year, Hong Kong authorities returned 85 containers of electronic junk, including 20 from the U.S.

Exporting most electronic waste isn’t illegal in the United States. The U.S. does bar the export of monitors and televisions with cathode-ray tubes without permission from the importing country, but federal authorities don’t have the resources to check most containers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the problem but doesn’t believe that stopping exports is the solution since most electronics are manufactured abroad. The said agency believes that it makes more sense to recycle them abroad.

The EPA is working with environmental groups, recyclers, and electronics manufacturers to develop a system to certify companies that recycle electronics responsibly. But so far the various players have not agreed on standards and enforcement.

Many activists believe the answer lies in requiring electronics makers to take back and recycle their own products. Such laws would encourage manufacturers to make products that are easier to recycle and contain fewer dangerous chemicals.

Resource: Cecill Artates is an artist and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, women empowerment, and environmental awareness.

How Our High Tech World Churns Out E-Waste

In what is now known as an “Electronic World”, it’s very hard to find people who are able to live without a cell phone, an I-Pod, or a personal computer? In fact, research shows that the world generates about 40 million tons of PCs to satisfy millions of tech-hungry people and to fill the demand in the corporate world. And since the technology changes quite rapidly, new models, designs, and programs quickly emerge in the market. Most of the techie people these days will definitely go for the upgraded versions and the latest models. But what will happen to the old ones? What do we do with tons of old cathode-ray tube (CRT) screens, fax machines, game consoles, mobile phones after using them, or after we don’t like to use them anymore?

More often than not, these “e-wastes” are stuck in a drawer, at the garage, stock rooms. Most are not properly disposed after the garbage trucks gets hold of them. The sad truth is that these junk become non-biodegradable electronic waste.

E-waste represents the biggest and fastest growing manufacturing waste. The black and white TV turned to color; the basic mobile phone was tossed out for the new version with a camera; and the list goes on and on. Who would want last year’s computer when it can’t handle the latest software? As we continually update and invent new products, the “life time” of old technology gets shorter and shorter. Like ship-breaking, e-waste recycling involves the major producers and users, shipping the obsolete products to Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. But instead of being “green” --- we are exporting sacks full of problems to people who have to choose between poverty and poison.

Barely 20 percent of this highly toxic waste is properly disposed of and recycled. Some e-waste is stripped of precious metal and unusable components are dumped in landfills, poisoning the soil and precious water resources. Unregulated e-waste trade affects a growing section of the population. China, one of the largest processors of e-waste, has exported jewelry containing toxic lead from e-waste. But public pressure to recycle e-waste is having a major impact, and e-waste recycling is now one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

On average, a computer is 23% plastic, 32% ferrous metals, 18% non-ferrous metals (lead, cadmium, antimony, beryllium, chromium and mercury), 12% electronic boards (gold, palladium, silver and platinum) and 15% glass. Only about 50% of the computer is recycled, the rest is dumped. The toxicity of the waste is mostly due to the lead, mercury and cadmium – non-recyclable components of a single computer may contain almost 2 kilograms of lead. Much of the plastic used contains flame retardants, which makes it difficult to recycle.

E-waste is an ever-increasing problem. At present, the United States recycles over 32 percent of its waste, and the amount of waste that is recycled has doubled just within the past 15 years according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). San Francisco boasts a citywide recycling rate of 69. Organizations such as Earth 911 provides information on what items are recyclable, and some of them may surprise you, like that old audio equipment or those cans of paint. The Web site's recycling section provides information on how to recycle, why to recycle and what to recycle.

The problem of e-waste isn't limited to PCs. mobile phones, and PDAs. We, as users are also part of this problem. Each one of us has a responsibility to dispose our e-wastes properly. We must all do our part to serve and protect Mother Earth.

Resource: Cecill Artates is an artist and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, women empowerment, and environmental awareness.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paper Jam!

Did you know that each day, American businesses generate enough paper to circle the globe at least 40 times! Many of these papers come from our offices. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 41 percent of solid waste is paper. In a typical office, different kinds of paper including newspapers, magazines, packages, boxboard, paper bags, and all other grades of paper, can make up to 80 percent of the solid waste.

It is possible to achieve significant reductions in the cost of buying office paper by reducing paper use and reusing paper possible. One potential means of handling this material is through recycling. Why recycle office paper? Consider an office paper recycling program an opportunity to:

  • Obtain revenue from sale of computer and highgrade white paper;

  • Lower waste disposal costs;

  • Create a good public image;

  • Conserve trees;

  • Reduce air, water and land pollution; and

  • Extend the life of landfills.

Office paper recycling most often requires a minimum of 500 to 1,000 pounds of paper per pickup. Smaller quantities can usually be delivered to a waste-paper dealer. A program that includes an entire building is best, but a small office program will also work.

Paper dealers will provide their guidelines and restrictions for what papers they will accept and how they want the paper prepared such as what level of foreign matter (called contaminants), volume, containers, among others.

The grades of office paper for recycling include:

  • Computer print-out (high grade): color barred or blank. Commercial forms or primers' inks are usually not acceptable.

  • White ledger (high grade): non-glossy, printed or unprinted white, including letterhead, typing, writing and copy machine paper.

  • Colored ledger: non-glossy, printed or unprinted colored paper.

  • Mixed office paper (lower grade): unsorted paper including: office paper; manila folders; white, colored and glossy paper; junk mail; tabulating cards; pamphlets; brochures. This mix does not include: newsprint, phone books, magazines, Pendaflex or brown Kraft envelopes.

  • Groundwood computer paper (low grade): looks like phone book paper.

  • Corrugated cardboard (low grade).

The most commonly recycled papers are computer paper, white ledger paper, colored ledger paper and mixed office paper. Mixing paper grades usually drops the price of all the paper to the price of the lowest grade included in the mix.

Waste has become an increasingly difficult environmental and economic problem, one which affects us all and to which we all contribute. Individuals, at home or at work, have a vital role to play in schemes to reduce waste.

Today's complex, technologically-based society, combined with population growth, has led to the current enormous waste problem. As more businesses and organizations consider the effects of their activities on the environment, waste generated at work, most especailly office papers are increasingly receiving attention. More and more, the production of waste is seen as a form of inefficiency and misuse of resources, which has both economic and environmental implications for individual companies, and the country as a whole.

The fewer changes office people must make in their daily routines to recycle, the greater the chances for success. Everyone can make a difference to save the environment. Even if you are just sitting there in front of your computer at the office.

Resource Box : Cecill Artates is a freelance writer for a women's magazine who covers environmental topics. She also conducts paper recycling training to women in disadvantaged communities.

Leo's Kingdom

His name is said to have been derived from his German mother Irmalin, who was said to have experienced a sudden kick from her unborn boy while enjoying a DaVinci painting at the Uffizi. In the year following his birth, she and his Italian father, George, were divorced. He grew up in Echo Park, then a particularly seedy, drug-dominated area of Los Angeles. At five he appeared on his favorite TV show “Romper Room” (1953) and was nearly thrown off for misbehaving. After a string of commercials, educational films (“Mickey's Safety Club”), occasional parts in TV series, a debut film role as Josh in Critters 3 (1991), a continuing role as the homeless boy Luke in the TV series “Growing Pains” (1985), he got his breakthrough part as Toby in This Boy's Life (1993), co-starring with Robert De Niro and Ellen Barkin.

Teen fans sobbed when this beguiling, baby-faced good looks, slipped into watery oblivion in 1997's megahit Titanic, in which he uttered probably one the most famous cries of all time, “I'm the king of the world!”

So, who doesn't know Leo? The blond, blue-eyed icon for millions of teenage girls and more than a few boys everywhere. The guy who hit superstardom via Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio can be the king of the world if he wants to. With the popularity, money, awards, and gorgeous girlfriends, he can be a king. But no, Leo does not only have the looks and riches fit for a king. This guy is also building his own kingdom in helping to save Mother Earth.

This “king of the world” started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to promote environmental causes in 1998 and has become a one-man army in the fight against global warming.

Established in 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has actively fostered awareness of environmental issues through participation in organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green USA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The environmental website was created in order to reach, inform and interact directly with a wide global audience about these issues. This site also serves to promote current environmental campaigns, such as the global movement to eliminate the use of Plastic Bags.

Environment Now honored the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation with its prestigious Martin Litton Environmental Warrior Award in 2001.

The Foundation also spearheaded the production of the feature length environmental documentary “The 11th Hour.” The feature length documentary is about the environmental crises caused by human actions and their impact on the planet. “The 11th Hour” documents the cumulative impact of these actions upon the planet's life systems and calls for restorative action through a reshaping of human activity.

In conjunction with the film, the Foundation helped launch the online network This website serves as a forum where individuals and communities can take action as part of the sustainability movement.

Leonardo DiCaprio emerged from relative television obscurity to become perhaps the hottest under-30 actor of the 1990s.

Thus now, still very popular, the hybrid-car driving DiCaprio has also been an important proponent of environmentalism, a topic he is so passionate about, thanks to his good looks, talents, and care for the planet, millions of his fans became also aware about their idol's advocacy. Truly, for his admirers and supporters, he certainly deserves the right to be called “king” to protect the world.

Resource Box : Cecill Artates is an artist and a part-time writer for a women's magazine. Her interest includes writing articles on women's health, women empowerment, and protection of the environment.

Earth Day 2008: A Call for Climate

Thanks to you, Earth Day 2008 was the biggest yet! From Tokyo to Togo, to our flagship event on the National Mall in Washington, DC and 7 other U.S. cities, we galvanized millions of people around the world behind a Call for Climate, our global warming action theme. Hundreds of millions of people from every corner of the planet raised their voices to urge significant and equitable action on climate change.

Our U.S. events, produced by
Green Apple Festival, included A-list musicians and actors, environmental and community leaders, and dozens of exhibits, gathered more than 250,000 people. Torrential rain didn’t prevent thousands from showing up at the National Mall in Washington, DC and demonstrate their environmental concerns only a couple hundred yards from the Capitol.

And on Earth Day, April 22nd, the US Capitol Switchboard received thousands of calls from every corner of the nation demanding a moratorium on new coal-fired plants, investment in renewable energies, building efficiency and protection for the poor and the middle class in the transition to the new green economy. Outside of the US, citizens called their governments and parliaments with the same demands. If you haven’t called for climate yet, do it right now! You can reach the
US Congress at 202 – 224 – 3121, or check out this list for other countries.

View More of this story at Earth Day 2008