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It’s that time of year- friends and families gather for celebrations, holiday lights decorate trees, and shopping lists include finding the right gift.

Just because it’s a time of giving, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your environmental commitments.  We have 5 tips to keep your holiday eco-friendly:

1) Re-gift: We know it can make you feel a little guilty, but the best way to minimize your environmental impact is to reduce your purchases. Perhaps you didn’t the amaryllis bulb given to you as a hostess gift, so it would be a great stocking stuffer for your Aunty Betty. And you really never need to dig deep in your closet to find a white elephant gift.

We will mention we’ve heard horror stories of accidentally giving a vase back to a daughter-in-law, with the mother unfortunately forgetting its origin. If you can’t remember who gave it to you, play it safe this holiday season. No one wants to cause awkwardness during gift unwrapping!

2) Shop at “new to you” stores: There are plenty of great reuse and thrift stores in the Twin Cities. We’re a little partial, but we know you’ll be amazed at the value and variety on electronics from Tech Discounts. A walk through Arc’s Value Village always guarantees great options in housewares, clothing, games, and more. Have a book fan in your family? Check out A Greener Read.

We’re proud to be a member of a trade alliance called ReuseMN, and they just released an updated website which makes it incredibly easy to find just what you’re looking for:

3) Give experiences, not stuff: Before you grab another tie for your dad, consider a brewery tour. Does your grandma need another collectible for her shelf, or would she rather join you for a trip to a local museum? We’ve heard great ideas of giving Food Co-Op “Ownerships” (we’re fans of Lakewinds), concert tickets, cooking classes, and other alternatives to collecting more “stuff” on shelves and in closets.

4) Use earth-friendly wrapping supplies: There are plenty of bows in the world already – just ask our friends at Junket: Tossed and Found in South Minneapolis. Tell them we say “hi” when you swing by their shop to purchase your bows at the affordable price of just TEN (10) CENTS each while shopping your values.

  

Most people are shocked to learn that most wrapping paper is not actually recyclable. Instead, you can cut up paper grocery bags which give that fun “brown paper packages” look. If you’re giving someone a scarf, table cloth, or reusable bag, just use those items to wrap the package instead of paper.

5) Upcycle items you have around the house:

Chalk paint an unwanted flower pot with a festive holiday message. Transform an outdated or too tight of a sweater into a pillow or even leggings. Turn an orphan earring into a brooch. Here are 5 more simple upcycled gift ideas from One Green Planet!

Back to school season prompts big spending — the average American family spends nearly $600 each fall on school supplies, new clothes, and college gear. Although we might be tempted to buy every item at Target’s back to school sale or on Amazon, it’s important to think about what we consume and how to head back to school with sustainability in mind.

1) DON’T CREATE MORE WASTE

Before you head out to the local big box retailer, see what you already have in your house. Make sure to reuse supplies that you already own. Every year, six billion pens are thrown away that still work — so make sure you don’t have any functioning supplies lying around before you buy new ones.

2) ASK THE QUESTION — AM I REALLY GOING TO USE IT? 

Before you buy a new lunchbox or that 12-pack of glue sticks on sale, ask yourself if you are going to be committed to bringing a lunch to school this year, or if your child is really going to make 12 glue sticks-worth of art projects. Being realistic about back to school needs will help reduce waste and unnecessary spending.

3) WHEN YOU DO BUY ITEMS, BUY REUSED OR RECYCLED

Save trees and reduce pollution. There are tons of products easily available that are made from recycled materials, like recycled paper, notebooks and folders. Also, think about products that you can reuse and recycle, such as refillable pens and biodegradable pencils.

4) CLOTHES SHOPPING CAN ALSO BE GREEN 

Clothes shopping is a major part of our back to school consumption. Visit stores that engage in reuse; local stores like Junket, Arc’s Value VillageEmpty the Nest, and PRISMS Shop for Change have important social missions and are fun places to shop for clothes and other goods. Buffalo Exchange is great for the fashion minded, and if you are looking for coats and other outdoor gear check out Repair Lair. Not only is shopping reused more affordable, it’s a blast!

5) BUY REUSED TECH

If you need a new computer, phone, or iPad consider buying refurbished at Tech Discounts. It’s a great way to buy high-quality electronics without breaking the bank. You will also help to reduce landfill waste and decrease pollution. Plus all purchases come with a 30-day money back guarantee and 90-day “we fix it or replace it” warranty so you know you’re in good hands. 

6) IF YOU ARE BUYING NEW, CONSIDER BUYING PRODUCTS WITH A LIFETIME WARRANTY

Try Patagonia for backpacks and winter coats or Duluth Pack and Relan for messenger bags. This way, you’ll have items that will last, which will not only reduce waste but be more cost-effective in the long-run.  

7) BE GREEN ON THE GO 

Whether you are traveling around campus or your kids are going to and from school, think about biking and walking as alternatives to driving every day. The Twin Cities are one of the most bikeable cities in America, and it’s easy to find a fun and safe trail to head to school. If biking or walking isn’t an option, consider public transportation or the school bus. If not, start a carpool!

8) COLLEGE STUDENTS: THINK ABOUT DORM LIVING IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY

In the craziness of the first months of college, it can be hard to remember to reuse and recycle. Here are a few simple recommendations:

  • Use packaging you can recycle or reuse for move-in
  • Have both recycling and trash in your room
  • By used or rented books — they’re cheaper anyway! Or better yet, check out your college’s “Free and For Sale” Facebook page to see if you can purchase used books and supplies from students at your university.
  • Use drying racks for laundry — it saves energy and money!
  • For furniture and other dorm supplies, check out Goodwill, Arc’s Value Village or the Reuse Program Warehouse at the U of M.

9) CONTINUE GREEN PRACTICES DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

Some simple practices can keep you engaged in sustainability all year long:

  • Use your notebooks all the way through.
  • Print on both sides of the paper.
  • Recycle all paper and cardboard supplies, and compost your lunch.
  • Recycle old technology with Tech Dump!

Simple practices can go a long way in helping reduce waste. Have more back to school sustainability tips we missed? Feel free to comment below!

As members of the electronics recycling industry, Tech Dump has always held ourselves to high standards to keep the Earth, our employees, and our customers’ data safe and secure. In fact, Tech Discounts grew out of our desire in our recycling division, Tech Dump, to make every effort to REUSE old electronics whenever possible.

Thanks to the work of our partner, Tim Brown Design, we love the symbolism of our Tech Discounts logo for the work we are honored to do each day.

tech-discounts

When we look at our logo, we are reminded that each day we are working to keep electronics going. We make technology affordable, minimize our environmental impact, and create local jobs.

An early version of our logo displayed a plug symbol on the left side, however our current lightning bolt design feels much more appropriate. We sell so much more than just refurbished electronics with plugs—we sell items with cables, cords, and batteries. Each day is an adventure at Tech Discounts as you never know what amazing variety and value you will find on our shelves.

The right side’s arrow shows we are a proud member of the circular economy.  This is a buzzword that can be thrown around quite frequently, but most simply it means producing no waste or pollution. While recycling is critical to the environmental conversation, extending the length of use for electronics is critical.

One additional way that we keep electronics going and in use is through our repair services which are now available to the public. Have a broken cell phone screen? A tablet that won’t hold its charge? We provide a free estimate, and we continue to hear great feedback about our price and speed of repair.

The final way that we keep electronics and the power going, is by creating local jobs and job training opportunities. Beyond our important environmental mission, we also have a vital social mission focused on employing adults facing barriers to employment. We provide training and experience for our trainees to have a pathway forward.

We’re excited about this new brand and logo, to remind the community of the work we had already been doing. We appreciate you helping spread the word, so swing by our Golden Valley retail space and bring a friend!

p6_mainx_adn_1107_cellphonePDFPETALING JAYA: Over 90% of the materials used in mobile devices and accessories can be recovered through proper recycling.

However, recycling the usual household items such as newspapers, bottles and plastics is a lot easier than recycling e-waste as most do not know where to dispose of their unusable electronics.

PhD candidate Norjulia Ahmad Mahir, 31, said she had been holding on to her old mobile phones and other electronics as she did not know where to dispose of them.

“I know it has a bad effect on the environment and that’s why I do not simply throw them out,” she said.

Her “stash” includes two smartphones, a charger, a battery, a compact camera and a video camcorder, all unusable.

Norjulia considers herself an advocate of green living. Some of her green efforts include using cloth diapers for her young daughter.

“I’m all for a greener environment. I recycle normal household items on a regular basis but e-waste is a bit hard because I can’t find e-waste recycling centres,” she lamented.

Amira Suraya Azaharin also did not know where to dispose of her small electronics back in her home in Shah Alam and resorted to throwing an epilator in the bin once.

The 28-year-old has taken recycling seriously since moving to Japan for her MBA studies.

“I’m already used to separating paper and bottles back home in Malaysia but living in Tokyo trains me to do it more properly.

“I used to just separate and leave the waste at the recycling centre but in Japan, I make the effort to remove caps and wrappers. It is expected of anyone living in Japan. It’s a lifestyle there,” she said.

For huge electronic appliances and even clothes, Amira said residents needed to call the bulk waste centre to set an appointment.

“They will pick up the items from your house for a fee,” she added.

Amira felt it was easier to do recycling in Japan compared to Malaysia because recycling in Japan is part of the local culture and local authorities reminded residents to recycle daily, including posting recycling posters in residential lifts and common areas.

While some do not know where to discard their old electronics, environmentalist Yasmin Rasyid of EcoKnights said some people held on to their old belongings out of sentiments.

“I know people like my mum who still has her Nokia handphone from 1997. It’s like a nostalgic feeling with some people, so they keep their mobile phones,” she said.

Freelance actor Cheng Zhu Hann, 25, learned the hard way about keeping old electronics – the battery acid from his old Game Boy leaked and seeped into photos and letters he kept in a memory box.

“That Game Boy is my childhood.

“It was a thing I played with the most so I never thought of disposing it. I kept it in the memory box together with other things for safekeeping,” he said.

Cheng said he would go through his memory box every now and then and one time, he found the letters and photos damaged.

“It was covered in this black gooey thing and the Game Boy looked like it was foaming. I realise the battery acid caused it,” he added.

He quickly took out the batteries from other old cameras and electronics and disposed of them.

Yasmin said recycling e-waste was not only important to avoid soil and groundwater contamination but also because of the valuable materials like gold, silver and copper in the devices could still be reused for manufacturing.

“What’s more important is that we will reduce the need to mine more of these precious metals and minerals if we can recycle the ones that we are discarding daily.

MyRU9VfIA“In many states in the United States, there is already a ban on sending electronic waste to landfills as the risk of these electronic waste contaminating our soil and water is high,” she added.MyRU9VfIA

Extinct-Device-CIf alien archeologists excavate the earth thousands of years from now, they may believe that computers–and not humans–were the primary form of life on the planet.

Scientists have discovered that fossilized technology, or technofossils will be the primary evidence of human life in the future, meaning that old computers and phones sitting in landfills could be around millions of years after humans are gone.

As humans continue to throw trash into the ocean and landfills pile high, we aren’t just polluting the earth — we’re changing its geology. The vast amount of waste that humans have produced has caused a new geological epoch, the anthropocene.

The anthropocene is a new division in Earth’s geological time scale reflecting the unprecedented impact that humans have made on the planet. Unlike past life forms, who left behind footprints or bones, we will leave behind technofossils such as highways, cities, airports and landfills.

This is because we are filling the earth with waste that will not decompose. Although biological waste will break down, technowaste does not degrade. Humans create almost a billion tons of plastic every three years, and much of it goes into landfills across the globe.

In the future, some landfills will erode, releasing plastic debris into the sedimentary cycle. Others will be buried and the e-waste within it will fossilize. These e-fossils will likely remain on earth for thousands to millions of years, even if humans don’t survive that long.

Thus, we humans have created so much waste that thousands of years in the future, will be defined by it.

The lesson in all of this? Unless you want your cellphone to sit in a landfill for the next couple million years, you should recycle it.

At Tech Dump, we recycle anything with cords, cables, or batteries; we guarantee that electronics will be recycled or refurbished and resold. By recycling and reusing electronics, we can reduce the amount of waste that we leave on our planet.

 

A worker pours rare earth metal Lanthanum into a mould near the town of Damao, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS
A worker pours rare earth metal Lanthanum into a mould near the town of Damao, in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS

Without elements known as rare earth metals, our computers would still be the size of a classroom.

The 17 elements at the bottom of the periodic table known as rare earth metals possess properties necessary for making technology lighter, faster and smarter. Rare earth metals are used to make light bulbs, cell phones, electric cars, MRI machines, camera lenses, and other technology.

Although rare earth metals are critical in the technology we use every day, mining and processing these metals is extremely hazardous to the environment. It is important to reuse and recycle electronics in order to lessen the demand for these minerals.

Currently, 97% of rare earth elements are mined and processed in China, where environmental regulations are lenient and mining has led to environmental degradation. Most of the metals are extracted in open pit mines, which can release radiation, dust and metal into the environment.

Once metals are mined, they need to be refined and separated from ore material. This process requires large amounts of corrosive acids and carcinogenic toxins. Oftentimes, metals are laced with radioactive materials from the earth’s core, and the refining process releases these materials. Because of these factors, processing one ton of rare earth metals produces about 2,000 tons of toxic waste.

Toxic waste can enter air, ground and water around refining and mining sites. Once waste has been released into the environment, it is extremely hard to remove and can endanger all organisms in the area. Mining and refining have contaminated soil and water supplies of nearby communities, slowly poisoning residents and their livestock. Toxic mine runoff also threatens to seep into China’s Yellow River, a major supplier of drinking water for the northern provinces.

Although other nations have begun efforts to mine in a less toxic way, the mining process continues to be arduous and hazardous to the environment. It is important to lessen the demand on rare earth metals as much as possible to prevent more metals from being mined.

Although scientists are still researching ways to recycle rare earth metals, one way to reduce demand is reusing electronics. It is important to recycle old electronics as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that they can be refurbished.

By purchasing refurbished electronics, we can reuse technology, reducing the need to mine rare earth metals. At Tech Discounts, we sell quality refurbished and vintage electronics, allowing you to purchase quality electronics while reducing environmental impact and creating jobs for adults with barriers to employment.

Technology has changed the way we live and do business, but now that we’re all dependent on electronics, progress comes at a steep price. As your old computers break or become obsolete, you can’t always afford to invest in a brand new replacement. Fortunately for you, we collect working computers and other electronics through Tech Dump’s electronics recycling program. When you buy refurbished electronics from Tech Discounts, everyone wins:

Save money

This one’s a no-brainer. Simply opening the packaging will lower a computer’s resale value, so when you buy a very gently used electronic, you’re benefiting from someone else’s investment. Our tested, refurbished electronics are much more affordable than unopened originals, but many of them are just as powerful.

Protect the environment

Manufacturing, packaging and transporting electronics is a very energy-intensive process. When you skip the electronics stores and buy a product that’s already in circulation, you spare the planet from unnecessary greenhouse gases and reduce the demand for synthetic, non-biodegradable materials.

Electronic waste is an environmental nightmare, but it’s also an unnecessary waste, because many old computers have parts that still work in newer models. When you take advantage of that, it’s a win-win for you and the planet!

Create jobs

We’re proud that our electronics recycling program helps protect the planet’s future, but our employees’ futures matter just as much. In fact, we qualify as a 501c3 nonprofit organization because of our efforts to employ and train people who would otherwise struggle to find work. We’re not just giving electronics a second chance; we’re also giving hard-working adults a second chance to succeed in life.

Get top brands

Don’t underestimate the value of a reused computer. Refurbished doesn’t mean second-best, so we carry all the top technology brands. As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher, we offer huge savings on computers, tablets, and more. That means discounts for you, the customer, but it also proves we know our way around a computer.

Know what to expect

We have hundreds of desktop and laptop computers, and full transparency is part of the deal. We provide detailed information about its features, imperfections, operating system and any recent upgrades. You’ll know exactly what to expect.  Support electronics recycling and buy one of our refurbished computers today.