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How to get rid of your electronics the green way

Happy Earth Day! In today's print Miami Herald, the Tech Tuesday page features a graphic full of useful tips on how to dispose of your e-waste in an environmentally friendly way. But if you missed it, I've copied and pasted the text below:

By Samantha Riepe, Miami Herald Staff

Have you sent a VCR, computer or television to the electronics graveyard? You're not alone. The Environmental Protection agency estimated electronic waste, or "e-waste," at about two million tons in 2005, the most recent year data is available. Only 12.6 percent of this e-waste load was recycled. Most frightening -- electronics can contain several pounds of chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium and other compounds that are considered hazardous materials in some states (keyword: some). The solution? Donate, recycle, or safely dispose of your next out-of-date electronics.


Trash stat:
• More than 150 million phones enter the U.S. waste stream every year, where they have the potential to leak mercury, cadmium, arsenic and more into water streams. These compounds may also enter the air when municipalities burn the phones. Can you hear me now?
• Best Buy and Office Depot store offers free recycling kiosks near the front door, for cellphones, batteries, and chargers.
• Cellular companies have free, charitable drop-off or mail-back programs for recycling old phones. Motorola's program, at www.racetorecycle.com, distributes the proceeds among participating K-12 schools. Nokia and LG also take in used phones, regardless of the manufacturer. Visit www.Nokiausa.com/recycle or us.lge.com/recycle to download a postage-paid label to return the device.
• AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have programs where you can drop off your old wireless equipment at their stores to be refurbished for resale and reuse, with proceeds going to charity. Sprint's program donates all proceeds to 4NetSafety children's online safety group; go to www.sprint.com/recycle for a postage-paid mailing label, or to see if your model is eligible to be exchanged for an account credit.
• The Wireless Foundation's Call to Protect program collects working cell phones for distribution to victims of domestic violence. Learn more at wirelessfoundation.org.


Waste stream:
• In April 2007, Apple announced the 100th million sale of its ubiquitous iPod, which first hit the market in 2001. iPods and other players have spawned an entire industry of related accessories, from cases to speakers to car chargers -- an eventual mother lode of trash.
• Bring iPods, functioning or not, to any Apple store for recycling and receive a 10% discount on your next iPod purchase. Also, Staples stores have recycling bins for any type of MP3 player or hand-held electronic.
• The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation works with flipswap.com to turn donated iPods into a cash contribution. Simply assess your iPod's condition to find out the estimated cash value, then send it in to have that amount donated to the Komen Foundation. Visit www.cellphonetradeins.com.
• Donating your working MP3 player to local nonprofits is music to needy ears. List your player on eBay with eBay Giving Works, and designate all or a percentage of the profits from its sale to Miami charities like Adopt-a-Classroom, CareResource, and Zo's Fund for Life. Go to givingworks.ebay.com.
For profit:
• iPod has spawned more than 10 generations since its inception, and newer models like iPod Touch, iPod Video or the most recent iPod Nano have good resale value. On eBay, a used 30 gigabyte iPod Video can currently fetch about $150.


Heavy facts:
• Analog televisions, VCRs, and bulky stereos -- these retirees can contain all the same harmful compounds as smaller gadgets, and then some (a 27-inch television can contain up to eight pounds of lead). Dispose of them responsibly at Miami-Dade Trash & Recycling Centers; visit www.miamidade.gov/dswm for locations.
• Miami Rescue Mission accepts working electronics in good condition for resale at their Bargain Barn Thrift Store in downtown Miami. All proceeds benefit the organization's homeless assistance programs. Bring items to 2133 NW 21 Court, Miami or arrange for pickup by visiting www.miamirescuemission.com.
• Find a new home for dejected electronics by joining the Miami Freecycle email group. Submit your free item to the group, and a daily email to all 4300+ members tells what stuff is up for grabs. Go to www.freecyle.org and type in 'Miami' to get started.


Trash stat:
• In the past ten years, over 500 million personal computers became obsolete. Computer monitors use cathode ray tubes that contain of two to four pounds of lead, and are even classified as hazardous waste in some states.
• The manufacturer of your PC or laptop may offer a recycling or trade-in program. Dell offers free recycling for all its products at any time, and also allows new customers to trade-in old non-Dell computers with purchase. Visit www.dell.com/recycle for more information, and check out a similar program by Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com).
• The National Cristina Foundation works to provide newer, working computers and peripheral equipment to the disabled or economically disadvantaged. Go to www.cristina.org to determine if your PC is an accepted model. If so, Cristina will work to find an appropriate recipient for your computer in the South Florida area.


Besides e-waste, plenty of other toxic household materials require special disposal. At earth911.org, you can enter the type of trash and your zip code to find places nearby that either recycle the material or dispose of it safely. These services are usually free.

Hazardous household trash can include:
• Used motor oil
• Antifreeze
• Car batteries, regular batteries
• Tires
• Paint
• Cleaners
• Fluorescent bulbs
• Asbestos
• Fertilizer
• Pesticide, fungicide

*Note: Remember to remove any personal information from computers, cellphones, PDAs, or any other storage devices before donating or recycling.

Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency, CollectiveGood Foundation, Scientific American, earth911.org


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