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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Picking a Green Theme: Part II

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 16, 2009 10:23:49 AM

More Businesses, Charities & Groups that Can Help You be Green

Barbara Glynn Alves arrows

Following up on my last posting, here are more helpful ways to help you keep your stuff out of the landfills whenever possible. This posting will focus on e-waste and smaller household items. Thanks to all who responded to my last posting with even more ideas!

E-Waste or Electronic Waste
E-Waste generally refers to consumer electronics such as laptops, personal computers, televisions, toys, phones and batteries. We covet and enjoy our electronics, but they pose a real problem when they come to the end of their life or usefulness. All contain one or more of those real nasty hazards like lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, zinc, and brominated flame retardants and must be disposed of responsibly and properly. They should not go to the landfills! So what can you do?

Give to your local Women’s and Children’s Shelter. Recycling cell phone for victims of domestic abuse is a worthy and wonderful cause. The Shelter Alliance website will help you find a local connection

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) is a non-profit, public service organization dedicated to rechargeable batteries. Their slogan “If it’s rechargeable, it’s recyclable!” You can type in your zip code to find a retailer near you who will collect your batteries and cell phone or check out their nation-wide collection events

There are plenty of businesses who collect and recycle electronics for a fee. A quick internet search brought me to several in my local area. I simply typed e-waste + NJ. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection also had a listing under the title “Consumer Electronics Recycling Facilities, which gave me at least 30 names of e-waste recyclers. NJDEP also listed a free state-wide program for computer electronics drop off. Most states are moving in this direction, so check out your state’s environmental management agency website.

Traditional and compact florescent light bulbs are great energy saving choices, but they cannot go in the landfill since they contain mercury. One of my favorite sites comes from our friends at Waste Management, Inc. who has a wonderful program. Online you can buy shipping boxes and small containers with pre-paid postage to ship bulbs and batteries back to them. I actually gave these as holiday gifts to my greener friends and family! Check out and

After my last posting, a reader reminded me of the good works of Goodwill Industries. The Goodwill website is great and easy to maneuver. Their thrift stores are a great place to donate all clean clothing, small housewares and household goods. Some take electronics. They even have an on-line auction program in the e-bay fashion, but your dollars go to them! Goodwill Industries has teamed with Dell® in a program called Reconnect, which is a free drop-off program to recycle any brand of unwanted computer equipment. Go to

There are many thrift stores throughout the US, some for profit, and some that support specialty institutions and schools or charitable organizations. You can choose to donate your household items and clothes or participate for a small profit. The National Association of Retail & Thrift Shops has a search feature on their website, by state, zip code and type of merchandize to locate a thrift shop near you.

A word about clothing bins. There are actually two types of bins: one type collects directly for the charity listed on the front and distributes usable clothes to the needy through different channels (mostly oversees); the other type of bin is rented from a textile recycling operation that gives the charity listed on the front dollars for every pound of textile collected or simply a fixed amount every year to use their name. Clothes in these are usually recycled into rags and spill booms. Most municipalities require bins to be registered and placed in a designated place, so don’t be scared away. In most cases, these are legitimate and serve the recycling, reusing strategy quite well.

Next Posting: Understanding plastics and what all those numbers mean.

Topics: Working Green, landfill

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