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!

Schipul Releases Open Source Tendenci CMS for NonProfit Websites

We love Open Source and our clients do too!  We often hear from clients that you only will use open source software to build your websites and the advantages of having an open source community of developers and designers are undeniable.

That’s why everyone here at Schipul is super excited to announce we can now offer you a new open source option in addition to Drupal and WordPress open source website development and design with our open source release of our Tendenci CMS for NonProfit Websites.

Tendenci.org

Tendenci is the First Open Source CMS Made Just for Non-Profits!

The open source release of Tendenci is now available as part at the  Nonprofit Technology Conference  in San Francisco going on this week, April 3-5.

If you are at NTEN NTC 2012, come to the NetSquared Local Community Organizers #12NTC Beerside Chat tonight at Jasper’s.  Come learn more about the event  and come hang out with us in San Francisco this week!

Read More Details about the Open Source Announcement!

Here’s photos of the nonprofit tech conference that our team of Schipulites attending NTEN’s NonProfit Technology Conference are shooting and sharing daily.

What Does This Mean for Current Schipul Clients?

Here are some links with information for our current clients to explain what this means for you and your website, and what open source software is:

Open Source Tendenci FAQ for Current Tendenci Clients | From the Tendenci Blog

What is the Difference Between Tendenci Enterprise and Tendenci Community? FAQ

Open Source Hosting Prices and FAQ with the Tendenci Community

Download, Deploy and Host Your Own Open Source NonProfit Website with Tendenci CMS

We have set-up a public repository on Github for Tendenci where you can access the software for those looking to host their own Tendenci website here:  https://github.com/tendenci/tendenci/.  The Tendenci CMS is written in the Python programming language within a Django framework.

Visit Tendenci.org for information and help with our open source CMS.

If you have additional questions, comments, concerns, etc. please don’t hesitate to contact us, or post them in the comments below.

Get All the Open Source Tendenci News

Sign up on our email list below to receive  the latest updates about the open source release of Tendenci – The CMS for Non-Profits and Share the news with your friends!



NetSquared Connects Techies and DoGooders in San Francisco Bay Area

While Silicon Valley and the Bay Area can at times be a whole world apart from Houston, there are still many things the two areas have in common – tech, geeks, startups, non-profits, and people passionate about changing the world through technology. If you’re in the Houston area, hopefully you’ve made it out to one of the Houston NetSquared meetings that Schipul hosts. They’re always fun and informative – a great way to bounce ideas of others working at the intersection of technology and do-gooding. Ed & Katie started the Houston group back in 2006, and have kept it going strong since.

I was excited to check out the San Francisco NetSquared group when I moved to this part of the world, but unfortunately couldn’t make the meeting that took place right after my move. And then summer hit, which those of us in the Bay Area know, is traditionally a quiet time for groups and activities. At the end of summer, the NetSquared community managers sent out word to group members that the previous organizer was no longer able to run the group, and asked if there was any interest in taking over those duties. Being a NetSquared fan girl, I threw my hat in the ring and offered to take the reins. I was lucky enough to have a very enthusiastic community that offered support, and fortunately two awesome folks – Regina Walton and Dave Theriault – stepped up to serve as co-organizers too. Together, the three of us are totally awesome. And no, I’m not biased at all!

I am super excited to get things kicked off with the November Meetup. Young Han from GoVoluntr will be speaking to the group about how he got started in the technology startup space, and what challenges non-profits have today and how technology can help solve them. Young is an amazing guy; I first met him at a Mountain View Chamber event hosted by our friends at Westminster Promotions. Bonus points went to me for immediately understanding what he was trying to go with GoVoluntr; we hit it off from there and have since had several great conversations surrounding do-gooding in technology. Young’s philosophy with GoVoluntr matched the Schipul Core Values so well; it was clear we’d be friends!

GoVoluntr has had an exciting fall, being asked to join the 500 Startups class. They’ve moved in to the group’s space in Mountain View (bonus to being just down the road from us in Sunnyvale – closer for coffee!) and Young and his team are getting their brains crammed with all sorts of amazing training and knowledge. Check out the recent post about their class from TechCrunch, and if you’re a Bay Area non-profit or do-gooder (yes, that’s totally a word) be sure to check out GoVoluntr!! Young and his team have built an amazing tool for connecting volunteers with those who need them, and giving volunteers a way to share and track their activity.

If you’re in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley area, we’d love to see you at a NetSquared event! If you can’t join us on November 8th, no worries – we’ve got speakers lined up for December and January, so join us then! And if you’d be interested in presenting to the group, or know someone who might be, please do let me know! We’re always on the look out for new ways to geek out over tech.

How to Grow A Profitable Association – real examples from California & Houston

I was lucky enough to be the panel leader for SchipulCon’s “How to Grow A Profitable Association” presentation, with Tony Brock of (Schipul client) ThinkLA and April Guzik of AIGA Houston. These two organizations have been able to grow memberships and sell-out events despite a rocky economy. It was amazing to be able to pick the brains of these two leaders for some tips on what has made their organizations thrive!

ThinkLA is the Los Angeles ad club and interactive marketing association all in one – as many of the groups in the Los Angeles area found that they were appealing to the same members and competing for the same event dollars, they decided to join forces and combine to form ThinkLA. Today it’s one of the most respected associations in California. One of my big questions for Tony was what he attributed ThinkLA’s event success to – what was the magic that could lead to sold-out events again and again? The two big tips from Tony were “Consistency is key” and “Right-size your venue”. When you start out with a new event for your group, listen to the feedback you get from members. Do they like the event? If so, keep it going. Make it consistent for them, so they always have something they know they can look forward to, and refer friends to. Right-sizing the venue was my favorite tip, and one that seems a bit counterintuitive at first. We all hope that we’ll get a huge crowd for an event – but that doesn’t mean you book a venue for that huge crowd. Unless you’re sure you can fill the space, don’t pick a giant venue. It makes the crowd look small and less exciting. On the other hand, if you have a venue that’s smaller, you may sell out tickets. That’s not a bad thing!! Selling out is actually great because it means that people will be sure to buy tickets early for the next event. By right-sizing your venue, you can create the premium experience you want your members to have.

Not surprising for someone having such an awesome name, April Guzik was really interesting to hear from regarding member involvement. It’s easy to say you’re going to be consistent with events, but harder to do so sometimes – board members get busy, life happens, and things can get pushed back. One thing April has done successfully at AIGA Houston is to welcome anyone who wants to take part in the organization – member or not. She values the help that is offered, and will gladly take help from enthusiastic community members. Both Tony and April pointed to the importance of viewing your association goals and missions to benefit the community at large, not just those who are paying dues. Especially as the economy forces many companies to cut back on corporate memberships, associations who continue to welcome these non-members will only thrive. And to thank those who have continued to support the organization through membership, having member-only events or benefits is a great way to say “thanks”.

If you’re on the board of an association or non-profit organization, I would strongly encourage you to check out out video from the SchipulCon presentation. Tony and April both have a lot of great experience with associations; in places as diverse and complex as California and Texas. They shared a lot of great tips that board leaders can take away and put in to place.

How to grow a profitable association (and be a bad ass member) from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

Let’s Talk About Spaceships Tonight with SpaceUp Houston

SpaceUp HoustonEveryone here at Schipul loves hi-tech, geeky things like robots, iphones, and rockets.  That’s why we are super excited and honored to be helping SpaceUp Houston with tonight’s Commercial Spaceflight Panel where I will be helping as a volunteer in my usual tasmanian devil fashion, (imagine the whirling dust devil everywhere at once).

SpaceUp Houston  provides an engagement platform to nuture new and radical concepts, help develop partnerships, and wants to help you create a future worth living in.

Their next event is tonight, August 18th and features a Commercial Spaceflight Panel with representatives from several aerospace companies including Virgin Galactic, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launce Alliance.  These companies will be talking about their company’s objectives and where they currently stand timeline-wise for spaceflight projects, research and employment opportunities, commercial crew and their barriers to success, and other related topics.

The panel will be held from 7PM to 9PM tonight at the Lunar Planetary Institute in Clear Lake, TX near Johnson Space Center.  Tickets for the commercial spaceflight panel are sold out and luckily, SpaceUp Houston has arranged to live stream the evening’s discussion.

After the panel, the audience will be invited to meet the panel members and mingle in the main lobby until 9:45pm.

Come join us tonight on SpaceUp Houston’s uStream  and I’ll be the one behind the uStream chat so say Hi and let me know what questions to ask our panelists!

Tweets in Space – NASA Promotes the Final Shuttle Launch Online!

Final NASA shuttle launch

This Friday July 8th marks a historic moment in both U.S. History and the story of Humanity when the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches to carry supplies to the ISS-Station in orbit around Earth. NASA’s space shuttle program will conclude with mission STS-135.

I am super excited to have the opportunity to view the launch from Kennedy Space Center Friday morning. For those of you who cannot make the trip – there are a number of awesome online outlets including twitter, NASA TV, Facebook and more to hear updates, watch the countdown and launch, and hear directly from the astronauts as they prepare to launch into space.

Follow the launch on Twitter!

First, if you are relatively new to twitter or want a quick refresher course, check out Schipul’s Twitter Speak Help File.

Next, here are just a few of the official NASA twitter accounts to follow:
@NASA – official NASA twitter account
@NASAtweetup – official “tweetup” account for NASA
@NASA_Astronauts – NASA twitter account that retweets all of the astronauts tweets

The four Astronauts that will be flying Atlantis for STS-135 each have twitter accounts as well and have been tweeting actively about their mission preparations and thoughts. You can follow them in the “Twitter-verse” here:
Christopher Ferguson: @Astro_Ferg
Douglas Hurley: @Astro_Doug
Sandy Magnus: @Astro_Sandy
Rex J Walheim: @Astro_Rex

Hashtags to follow on twitter: #NASATweetup and #STS135

Other NASA-friendly social networks to follow

If you want more than just 140 character updates, you can head to NASA Connect to find dozens of other official NASA social networking sites including the official NASA Facebook Page, and NASA Headquarters Flickr account including a collection devoted to the Space Shuttle program as well as many other social sites.

Then, on Friday morning watch the shuttle launch live online on NASA TV. The launch is currently scheduled for 11:28 AM EST. That’s 10:28 AM CST for those of you in Houston and 8:28 AM PST for all of you in California.

Finally, I want to include a couple of great non-NASA organizations that will be tweeting and uploading photos and video from the launch site in Florida too. Both of these organizations are focused on sharing the excitement of space exploration and all things space with others and are extremely active on the web.

The Space Tweep Society is an organization whose mission is to connect those inside the space industry with those on the outside looking in and generate enthusiasm for all things space. You can find the Space Tweep’s on twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

SpaceUp is a new organization that hosts “un-conferences” focused on space-related topics all over the country including Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC and Minneapolis. You will find a number of organizers and volunteers from the different SpaceUp cities in Florida this week for STS-135.

Want a play-by-play?   You can follow me on twitter: @SarahMWorthy as I tweet throughout the events leading up to the launch with all the other Space Geeks.

Before the launch, I urge you to go check out TEDxNASA in Silicon Valley and register for FREE if you can attend. This official TEDx event will be August 17th, 2011 in San Francisco, California. I was honored to attend the recent TEDx Houston event last month and definitely want to see all of you at TEDxNASA if you can make the trip to San Francisco next month!

Great launch photo up top thanks to Flickr user Stuck in Customs