Last week, Google promoted something called "Earth Hour."
Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, last year. For one hour, the entire town switched off its electricity. That one hour off the grid resulted in a 10.2 percent reduction in electrical usage, pretty significant for just one hour.
On March 29, my husband and I spent the night playing Boggle by candlelight. (I won by five points.) Check out the movement and be part of Earth Hour 2009 at www.earthhour.org
Don't feel guilty if you missed Earth Hour; you still have a whole day to make up for it.
The world has changed. I remember reading how in Cuba all the cars imported from the United States are no newer than the late 1950s. Sure, it's the unfortunate result of a communist regime, but the fact is those cars still run.
Our society is much more disposable. We'd rather buy new and for that reason, we need to recycle the old.
Cars are a much bigger purchase than computers and cell phones, so turnover isn't quite as high. I know people who go through four or five phones a year.
The dangerous thing in trashing obsolete is that the material might never break down in a landfill. Recycling electronics takes special care.
With some cleanup, your computer might be perfectly fine for a young person somewhere. Why not start with the Goodwill? If there's any chance the computer can be used, Goodwill is going to make good use of it or the parts.
If not, they have created an E-Waste initiative to ensure that the parts are recycled properly. At the very least, you can probably get a receipt for tax time next year.
Cell phones also have a little-known afterlife. Many women's shelters collect cell phones and distribute them, not that they can be used for casual conversation, but all cell phones will call 911 in case of emergency. Even a cell phone without a service plan can dial 911; it was an FCC requirement.
Most shelters will test your batteries and recycle them properly. Batteries also need special recycling. Luckily, services got better, and so did battery recycling.
Battery recycling is not new to major businesses; Radio Shack will recycle all rechargeable batteries at any store. Think beyond the remote control; battery recycling encompasses: laptops, cell phones, camcorders, digital cameras, cordless power tools and so on. All of these are covered at both Radio Shack and Best Buy, but Best Buy also offers ink-jet and cell phone recycling, all at a conveniently placed kiosk in the door of every store.
Reach Heather Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.