SXSW Eco Panel – Behind E-Waste – Recycling Electronics

E-Waste dumping - photo by Curtis PalmerThe success of SXSW’s March event each year has brought a year-round calendar of mind-expanding events like the 2nd annual SXSW Eco conference  a few weeks ago. SXSW Eco brings participants together to focus on areas of Sustainability. The popular SXSW format, panel discussions and meetings over the three days, allowed experts to share their ideas, successes and challenges with audience participants. I was able to attend a variety of sessions including one important to both Schipul and our clients who use technology to support their business or non-profit.

The Good, Green & Shocking Truths

Panel Summary: Many factors such as planned obsolescence, consumer trends, and updated technology contribute to e-waste becoming one of the largest societal waste segments. Exactly how recyclable are our electronics, and what are the most responsible methods of disposal?

Moderator:

Maia Corbitt – Executive Director at  State Of Texas Alliance For Recycling

Panel members speaking:
Clive Hess, President of  CompuCycle
Dag Adamson, CEO of LifeSpan Technology
Terry Levy, VP Sales for ARCOA

The panelists discussed the history of electronics recycling in Texas and the ways their organizations, alongside our state’s legislature, have gradually increased the ease of recycling for businesses.  The panel shared the different local electronics recycling programs and explained which programs were legitimately  using state approved certifications and processes so that Houston business owners could confidently select a certified recycling center.

History of Electronics Recycling in Houston

15 years ago in Texas, most waste was being shipped overseas, and low grade metals were one of the main waste products.  Within the last ten years, we’ve seen this change as more businesses are seeing the value of sustainability programs.  Granted, some of this was instigated by policy change.  For example,  Texas passed the 2008 Computer Take Back Law making computer manufacturers responsible for providing recycling to residents and small businesses.

In 2011, there was only one certified center in Houston and now there are 5 certified centers indicating a move towards easier and more responsible waste management.  The increase in facilities comes from  businesses who provide recycling services moving towards end of life asset management for businesses, including refurbishing and  re-use  as much as possible, and encouraging recycling when re-use is not possible.  Combined with policy changes, taking out the hazardous materials and doing the right thing has become a profitable business focus. Recyclers also recover more value when possible for the business or consumer than they did in the past.

E-Waste Sustainability in Houston Today

Yesterday’s technology included much more solid metals waste and was larger (think old Desktops). Today’s recycling stream allows removal of metals and proper disposal. Current electronics are smaller and more efficient in their production. This already eliminates some of the bulk of recycling. Both of these are results of policy changes bringing a change in practices and new business opportunities.

Clive Hess, President of CompuCycle – Houston’s first  R2 recycling center,  brings success stories that share how CompuCycle has expanded their services to include data management and data sanitization, and provide better opportunities for Houston businesses to incorporate sustainability programs.  At CompuCycle, many recyclers now securely erase, sanitize and provide warranties on products they resell. No products are sold as-is, but only with a warranty and if it can’t be sold with a warranty, then it is recycled.

CompuCycle also participates in the unique recycling challenge called the WhatIf? campaign  where you can donate your eWaste and they will hire and train individuals to recycle the components. This creates jobs and training for a local non-profit organization. The plan is to continue beyond the campaign as a sustainable endeavor, but they ‘need your junk’ to be successful.

Seek Out R2 Certified Recyclers

Most companies are not quite educated yet on R2 certification  and the panel shed some light on how to evaluate and find the right certification options for your business. There’s still a long way to go for the recycling industry to be a recognized standards bearer and the EPA encourages companies to find out if the  recycler you’re considering is certified by an accredited, independent certification auditor such as the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

The panelists agreed that  Education  will become key for Chief Sustainability Officers in companies and for your Chief recycler in your home.  The people who fill these roles will want to seek updates and stay informed with both the changes within the recycling services corporate world as well as with Federal and State policy changes. Some rrecycling businesses are only registered and will include this as part of their marketing materials, but doesn’t mean they are certified for recycling responsibly.

Our future should include policies that put pressure on electronic manufacturers to build upgradeable devices and longer life cycle products to reduce waste. But, this will require individuals to let their lawmakers know how to write these policies. Lawmakers listen to their constituency and particularly parents.

Want to Help Improve E-Waste?

Manufacturer’s need collection goals and the public needs easy locations to drop-off.

  1. Require retailers to provide information about recycling to consumers.
  2. Require state agencies to recycle assets via certified vendors.
  3. Recommendations that state computer Take Back laws include ALL electronics including TV’s and other waste.
  4. Find local R2 Certified Recycling facilities in your area.

Concerned about the future of materials in your landfills near your children? Let your  State Representative  know your concerns.  The EPA’s website also has a list of Recycling Resources where you can go to stay up to date on changes in policies and find tools to help individuals and businesses develop and implement sustainability programs at home and in your office.

Silver Lining for Urban MiningUrban mining and rare earth metals can be found locally instead of offshoring with other countries.  Opportunities exist for job creation and has even been part of the lawmakers focus in Colorado for underserved markets. A de-manufacturing site provides jobs for disabled or underserved markets, and a refurbishing site can provide high-tech jobs for engineers. Recycling E-waste is a reverse supply chain position taking one part and producing many parts from the whole. The recycling industry is a consumer driven market. Imagine what happens if everyone started sending all electronics to recycling? It would be an influx of materials. A typical middle-income household has four or more devices per person in their home. Game consoles, cell phones, old iPods, CRT screens, printer, etc.

Business is good for current recycling facilities. What happens when there is no longer a market for glass or other low grade materials? There are electronic parts that have value such as copper, gold and metals, but it is getting harder to handle materials such as glass, lead and plastic. Panelists were quick to suggest as invention increases, there is opportunity with the challenges. Glass is now used in aggregates for road construction to help the roads last longer with addition of silica to increase life span. Reground ABS plastics lower the cost of many manufactured items. There will be a greater need to find opportunities like these for our increased e-waste.

Take Action Recycling your Electronics

Find a certified recycler near you, and find your representative. Have eWaste? Let us know and we can help you find the means to recycle responsibly!

30 Days of Thanks: Thankful for – Body of Work

I am thankful for so many small things this year. Small acts, added together can make a much larger impact over the individual contributions. Being reminded of this, has allowed me to understand the random and planned acts of kindness, charity, faith, forgiveness and brilliance can change someone’s life. Sometimes it even changes a lot of lives.

An Artist’s Body of Work is made up a collection of pieces developed over time and often in a series of repetitive themes. I had a great Architecture professor, fellow professor, friend and fishing buddy that was also an artist. We lost Richard Ferrier to cancer way too early in his life. At his memorial, countless students, friends and colleagues commented on the special moment or gift that Richard (RB) left with them. There were stories of a kind act at one of the Universities we taught at, a personal reference to some needed help, or even an encouraging pep talk. He provided behind the scenes help and encouragement to several generations of artists and Architects. As I heard one story after the other, it was clear that no one person really knew ALL the good deeds RB had provided.

Thankful for a Theme of Art and Kindness

Driving home from that weekend, the stories began to overlap and the theme was clear. There was  a recurring study in kindness that characterized his true ‘Body of Work.” Sure, there was a legacy of paintings, awards and even archives in the Library of Congress to preserve his artistic work. But, small uncelebrated acts of humanity and friendship were the real collection. He had influenced and changed more people than we ever expected. Richards work was changing people’s lives.

I am thankful the ability to appreciate good design, to spell Winsor Newton watercolour with a ‘u’, to catch a trout in the cold tailwaters of New Mexico, to see someone fly in a WWII fighter plane. I am thankful for the lesson – To change the world, all it takes is small acts in recurring themes.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Slowly creating my Body of Work.

Inspired by Looking Beyond the Window

Looking in Florence, ItalyI am a small town girl, who grew up in small town Texas. Really. CNN said it was the smallest typical small town in America for the Millennium 2000. It was a great place to grow up safely where the rest of the world didn’t set the pace. My mom chose it so she could care for my father in his later years of aging health care and not worry about their little girl when she couldn’t keep an eye on her every minute. It worked, I have some great memories even if I grew up rather quickly. But, it didn’t do much for my world view and experiences.

One of the greatest gifts of my Mom gave me was the encouragement to learn about other cultures and travel when possible. So much so, that it required faith and living out her dream. On the eve of a summer study abroad for Architecture in Italy, she was hospitalized for a heart attack. A phone call from my sister while I was packing interrupted the hundreds of little decisions about what to pack in only a backpack and carryon for 10 weeks. A long night, and several conversations later, and I was on a plane at her pleading. Mom never traveled across an ocean, but dreamed of it for her daughter. In all that was going on, she told me “Go! Learn about the world and have a better life that I dreamed of for you! Live out my dream for me.” It’s hard to argue with a 115 pound (when soaking wet), wiry, Texas born and bred Mom. And, her cardiologist promised to take good care of her.

What I learned on that first trip abroad was to experience everything different than in my world, appreciate the differences and similarities. I came back inspired by history, art, architecture, culture and the people that make all these things so vital. Umm… good red wine and cheese as well, but that is another post. I learned with historical significance what we do in this world, in this lifetime, affects those who will come after us and builds on the body of work for our humanity. Could I have learned these things without traveling abroad, yes. Would I be the same person, no. My mom somehow knew this more than I did. She knew I needed to experience people and living differently. I know my place in this world is here in Texas, but I also know in small ways, I am connected to a larger picture and have so much more to learn from others.

Mom did get released from the hospital and we shared great stories about my travels and many more trips and escapades. She lived vicariously until her heart couldn’t keep up with her spirit anymore. Her eyes shined with each story and photo and in retrospect, yes, Mom was right. Mom, Thank You for inspiring me to experience more about the world other than what is outside my living room window. Even when I had to leave your side under extreme circumstances, you inspired me to be a better neighbor to human culture.

Hurricane Season supply checklist – be prepared!

Basic Hurricane and Safety Preparedness Kits

June 1, marked the beginning of   National Safety Month, so we’ve put together a short video on what you can do to be prepared in case of an emergency, as well as a few helpful tips.   If you live near the coast, you are well aware that hurricane season is here!!   Stock up and stay safe:

Hurricane Preparedness Kit from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

  • Water – at least 3 days of drinking water for everyone in your family including pets (about 1 gallon per person per day). Have a week on hand if possible. Backup sterilization devices (Steripen or Katadyn Extream) and water   enhancers like powdered mixes that replenish electrolytes are handy to have as well.
    • Food – at least 3 days of food per person and pet. We recommend foods that are easy to prepare and don’t require a lot of clean-up like peanut butter, Freeze dried/ dehydrated foods (available at camping stores0, and sweet treats and comfort foods. Don’t forget a can opener for shelf stable canned goods.
    • Lighting– a standard flashlight with extra batteries is a good start. Since lighting is as much a need as a sense of comfort, fun lighting ideas include Glowsticks and Glow-In-the-Dark Stickers.
    • First Aid Kit – extra allergy or   prescription medication is a good idea.   You may want to add   old prescription glasses, sunscreen, and mosquito spray to your basic first-aid kit.
    • Communication – weather and battery operated radio, power inverter that plugs into you car, cell phone backup battery, and online wireless system (in case your phone is damaged), a wireless air card (for laptop) and a USB to back up documents and keep them safe.
    • Atlas – It’s important to follow the secure hurricane routes recommended by officials. An atlas will help you navigate in case you need to go off the beaten path.
    • Storage – keep everything in one safe place and don’t cheat and use it in the meantime. A nice backpack or storage bin is easy to grab and go and make sure items (like batteries or canned goods) are rotated out for freshness.

    How can we help you stay safe during hurricane season?

    Feel free to contact us (info@tendenci.com or   281-497-6567) for additional information or for help putting together your Hurricane Preparedness Kit.

    Helpful Emergency and Hurricane Preparedness Sites

    USB Flash- Don’t leave home without it, and leave one at a friends

    Pink Tokidoki Flash  DriveFlash drives – cheap and easy backup can save on Vacation Stress

    They fit in your pocket, on your key chain and just look cool. With all the phones and portable devices we carry these days, we forget about these flash drives at the bottom of our desk drawers. The USB drive still has a couple of great features for traveling. Even if you are settled in for a nice staycation, add this little packing and preparedness tip to your travel plans or todo list. Snag a USB drive on sale in a multi-pack as the prices continue to fall on these little jewels. Or, pick up one of Happy Katies favorite designer Flash drives by MimoBot. Now, get ready for some scanning.

    Files, documents and every important document you would ever need, all in your pocket. Scan personal documents and records in case you lose your wallet or passport and you will have a digital image of all your registrations. But, but… WAIT! What if the wrong person finds it when it drops out of the pocket of your shorts? No worries, you should encrypt the contents with TrueCrypt or your favorite security feature.

    These little tech toys have some crazy cool options besides just a backup. Don’t want to carry a laptop or computer with you? Portable Apps Platform ScreenshotCan’t spring for the iPad yet? You can save all your bookmarks, favorite email settings, and doc settings on a FlashDrive and launch your profile from any public computer without fear of leaving your crumbs all over the desktop. Portable Apps is an open source software platform you install on your flashdrive or other backup device, adjust your settings, then plug it into a computer and run your programs from your own drive. You have access to all your software and personal data just like on your own PC.

    What to save on your USB Drive

    Losing important documents can ruin what should be a happy vacation. A little safety and planning can eliminate much of the stress. Before you pack up and leave, take the time to scan copies of important documents and save the files on to a secure area of the flash drive. Here are some examples of important documents:

    • Vacation Plans: Itinerary, Maps and receipts of deposits for reservations.
    • Personal documents: Drivers license, passport, birth certificate, Insurance cards (health and auto), Credit Cards and CC phone numbers for lost cards.
    • Home Documents: Home Insurance, Auto Titles, Registrations, photos of big purchase items for insurance documentation, and documents that would be hard to replace if you came back home and they weren’t there. Yikes! My next plan is to scan old family photos for safekeeping before they detoriate or get wet in the next hurricane.
    • Medical Records: List of medications for each family member, immunizations, List of family doctor and dentist contacts.
    • School and Work Records: Nice to have everything in one place while you are at it. Include copies of your transcripts, diplomas, Resume, licenses, permits, Wills, and any other items you may want to keep all organized.

    Now, your life is basically in one place if you ever have to recreate your history or need to hide it Bourne style. This is a cheap and easy way to travel light, backup photos off the camera while on vacation for processing later, and use software programs securely when on public machines. In fact, buy a couple of the drives, make copies of the drive and give one to a friend to put in their safe deposit box or mail one to a family member in another part of the country in case of emergency.

    Enjoy your trip, be safe, and tell us how you use your Flash Drive for your vacation!

    Thirty Days of Thanks – Lists

    Moleskine Lamy ListsNot sure when it happened, but I fell in love with lists. I am Thankful for lists.

    All kinds. Printable, written, embedded, moleskine, post-its, numbered, unordered, digital, iPhone apps. All.

    Fortunately, I work with tons of other people who share this passion and a few have contributed to my addiction.

    1. Ed‘ loves him some numbered lists. He even wrote about lists and communication
    2. JMO‘ taught me about Evernote and how to make lists from just about anywhere
    3. Brandi‘ LOVES Twitter lists and I hope to make it on one of her lists someday.
    4. If I keep going, the whole office will want a list. Of their own.

    Most of my day is consumed with lists. Making them, marking things off, adding to the lists. I use GTD as a general practice. Thanks David Allen for your workflow process in addition to helping me to control my lists. Goodness knows, they could get out of hand and I would have lists of lists.

    I love lists as visual information, but sometimes they can be chronological:

    • 1992. First played with Internet
    • 1995. Graduated Architecture School
    • 1998. Tried Sushi for the first time
    • 2001. Celebrated Millennium. Again.
    • 2003. Bought a bike
    • 2005. Walked 60 miles in 3 Days
    • 2007. Took a random train to Rabat
    • 2009. Listened to Vint Cerf describe future of Internet, Thanks Schipul.

    The list can be random (like above), completions, trends, or things to do like Gwen Bell’s Life List. We all love shopping lists, packing lists and I even make checklists for emergencies. I love marking things off my list as much as making new lists.

    I can remember specific events and life decisions sometimes based on a pros and cons list. I am not sure they ever swayed a major decision, but they brought resolve and clarity to something that often drowned in possibilities. Thank you. I made a list of things I wanted in a life partner, things to take when I left town for a Hurricane, things to say when I wanted to thank my mom during on our last conversation and things to do this Saturday morning. If I don’t get everything done in a list, or the list changes? No worries. Sometimes it is just as fun to throw the list out the window and just go.

    I hope I never run out of lists of awesome things to do.

    write blog post about thankfulness of lists. Done.

    Tell me your favorite list tool, gadget or hack.

    Schipul Book Club: Win a copy of The Survivors Club’ The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life

    the-survivors-club-book1Highlighting Safety Month, we wanted to focus on three things we love. Preparedness, Data and Stories.   Author Ben Sherwood delivers on all in The Survivors Club!

    Ben Sherwood studied data from survivors of all kinds of events to find the commonality. Who survived and why? The range of things life throws at each of us includes everything from losing a job in a recession, being diagnosed with cancer, surviving a plane wreck or a even a burning building. The science of studying the people who survived catastrophic events revealed amazing similarities.

    The Survivors Club book leads us through the answers to two questions, ‘(1) What does it really take to survive? and (2) What kind of survivor are you?”

    • Part 1 tells the extraordinary stories of survivors and their traits that gave them the advantage to overcome improbable odds. Their data helps unlock the mystery of survival and teaches you about the 5 personality types and twelve tools of survival.   These stories were amazing in detail and inspiring in their hope and faith.
    • Part 2 builds on the same traits, but focuses on you, the reader, and helps you determine your Survival IQ. Ben Sherwood, includes an internet based test to determine your survivor personality type. Don’t worry… you can’t fail the test, but it helps you realize your strengths in an everyday situation or a major catastrophe.   Ahem… some people have been known to skip to the test first. Just sayin’. Oh yeah, if you don’t win, there is a shorter version online.

    We took the test and found… well, once you take the Survival Profile, you also get to read about other survivors of your same type and match your traits with theirs! Do you know which survivor you are most like?

    And, a big hint before reading the book or taking the profile test. Everyone is a Survivor… everyone has inherent tools available to help them. The first step is identifying your tools and then learning to use them as your talents, your strengths. After reading stories of people who survived lion mauling, extraordinary combat situations and overcoming cancer, you will believe anything is possible. You will also learn how simple things can make the biggest difference in your safety and the best advice of all, ‘Do not waste a breath.”

    We hope you never need it, but we enjoyed reading how instincts, perspective and preparation can all make a difference in life threatening moments.

    In honor of this month’s Safety Month, we’re giving away a copy of this book AND an emergency supply kit to keep in your trunk to help you take your emergency preparation to the max!

    Join our Schipul Facebook fanpage and leave a comment here on this post about your favorite preparedness tip.   What are you doing to keep your family, friends and business ready for anything?   Do you have any survival stories you’d like to share?

    Leave your comments here and we’ll be selecting a random commenter (after double checking they’re a member of our Facebook fanpage of course’ it’s also Schipul Fan Mania month!!) on Friday, June 26th at 2pm CST.