With new phones, tablets and laptops debuting every month, rapid advancements in technology can quickly turn a beloved tech device into an outdated waste of space. Bu although throwing them away is a convenient option, the impact of the billions of pounds this e-waste could have on the environment are frightening. So whether your computer has stopped to functioning or you’ve simply decided to upgrade, here’s a look at top options for how to recycle your electronics.
Greener Gadgets – Presented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Greener Gadgets site is designed to help you easily find areas where you can recycle your old electronics simply by entering your zip code. Greener Gadgets is part of the organization’s “eCycling” effort to facilitate the recycling of one billion pounds of electronics every year. In the first two years of service, the number of eCycling centers has grown by more than 50%, and the number of pounds collected has nearly doubled.
The Greener Gadgets site also offers lots of information on ways to cut down your consumption and educate yourself about using less power and resources. In addition to tips for “Living Green” and “Buying Green,” the site features a handy calculator that helps you figure out how much your electronics usage costs, encouraging you to cut back on your consumption. You can quickly tabulate your monthly and yearly power costs for dozens of different devices.
uSell – uSell offers a chance for consumers to make a few dollars as they put their still-functioning devices directly into the hands of buyers who are experts at refurbishing and reselling electronics. The site lets you list your cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, tablets, game consoles and eReaders up for auction, and once a buyer is secured, you receive free mailing materials and shipping to send it along.
Goodwill – In partnership with Dell, Goodwill accepts most forms of electronics at their collection sites, regardless of brand or condition. Simply make sure you find a nearby location that accepts them, and drop your item off and receive a tax-deductible donation receipt.
Manufacturer Sites – AT&T and Verizon offer customers the chance to bring in any cell phones or other accessories to their store for recycling, with the Verizon program dedicated to providing refurbished phones to victims of domestic violence. LG’s Ecomobilize site allows you to find easy ways to either drop off or mail in your device, including the ability to request mailing info simply by texting a message to LG.
Retail Sites –Best Buy allows consumers to bring in up to two items a day per household into any of their US stores for recycling. Office Depot sells small, medium and large boxes for $5 – $15 in which you can place however many electronics you can fit and bring it back to the store for recycling. Staples offers in-store collection bins for small items, and will accept larger items such as monitors, printers and copiers, with a limit of six items per day.
Additional Electronics Recycling Resources
Earth 911 – Helps you find recycling centers for many types of goods, including electronics.
Call2Recycle – Offers a map of locations to recycle old cell phones and rechargeable batteries
eRecycle.org – A site set up specifically for California residents to find information and locations for electronics recycling
News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.
While experts and parents debate and fret about the impact of technology and screen time on the current generation, without a doubt everyone agrees on the importance of play in the lives of kids. The imagination, creativity, problem-solving and boundary-pushing involved in their leisure time activities have been shown to be crucial for developing kids’ self-confidence and practical knowledge of the world. Many feel that technology takes away from kids’ playtime, but the truth is it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Sure, it’s tough to watch Phineas & Ferb while playing soccer or to play Xbox while riding a bike, but many toys these days use technology as their basis for creating modern play experiences for children. Following are five of the best tech toys for kids, all of which go beyond pure entertainment to deliver more enriching fun on all fronts:
Fijit Friends – Fijit Friends are interactive robots with soft, squishy bodies and a face that literally lights up when they are interacting with music or telling jokes. They can dance to the beat of whatever music is playing, or can play and dance to their own tunes. Fijit Friends even interact with their owners, answering questions and doing whatever they can to make kids smile and laugh. Mini Fijit Friends called Newbies and an updated version called Yippits are testament to the popularity and fun of these lightweight robots.
LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer – Even though many toddlers just go straight for the family iPad, LeapFrog has designed a ready alternative in the LeapPad Explorer – a tablet that’s made specifically for the preschool crowd. Considering that 90% of parents think that playing apps on a tablet has educational potential, according to a recent Common Sense survey, it makes sense that many look to start their kids on a tablet that’s guaranteed to provide just that. Apps for the device cost $5, and it also supports other cartridge-based LeapFrog games which sell for $25. For younger kids, the LeadPad Explorer is much more reasonably priced that iPad, and provides parents with peace of mind that everything that’s happening on it has educational value.
Skylanders – Skylanders are real-life toy figures that were created to be used in conjunction with the Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure video game for Activision. By placing the action figure on the Portal of Power (which comes included with the video game), the action figure’s likeness seems to come to life onscreen, allowing kids to play, interact and control their toys that their parents could only dream of. If the concept doesn’t grab you, just imagine how excited you’d have been if you could magically play with all those Smurfs and He-Man figures you collected when you were growing up. Now you can understand why more than 30 million Skylanders were sold in the game’s first six months, making it an instant mega-franchise, which will spawn sequels, apps, shows, copycats and more. The Skylanders video game is available for all video game consoles and costs about $70, and additional action figures are sold separately for about $10 each.
Crayola Digital Light Designer – A sort of modern-day Lite Brite, the Digital Light Designer features a domed drawing surface which lets kids create and animate a full color, 360-degree LED light show using a light pen. Kids can save, replay and edit their creations, and can also use built-in apps and activities to help guide their experience. Whether it’s using cool effects like melt, spin or change color or playing interactive games like a maze race, connect the dots or mirror draw, kids and adults will love how technology makes both guided and creative play possible. The Crayola Digital Light Designer will cost around $50.
Angry Birds Knock on Wood – While the other toys we’ve highlighted use technology to create the play experience, Angry Birds Knock on Wood translates a technology-based experience into real-life. From Mattel and intended for ages 5 and up, this board game comes with various structural elements, green pigs and an assortment of Angry Birds based on the ubiquitously popular Angry Birds app. Players draw cards to create obstacles, and then must slingshot the birds into it to knock it down. The only problem we really have this one is that that kids will want to use more and more pieces, but using blocks or even Jenga pieces will help expand the gameplay experience beyond the recommended card game.
With more than $200 billion dollars spent annually online according to Forrester research, the role of the Internet in shopping and making purchasing decisions continues to increase. And whether it’s finding the best deals on items you know you want, or purchasing items you didn’t realize you wanted but were the right price, a large part of the appeal of online shopping, aside from the convenience, is being able to save money. Here are some hints, tips and expert strategies – including links to the best websites for coupons, sales and deals that can help you save money online – to help you maximize your dollars when shopping on the Internet.
Use comparison shopping sites.
Even if you’re preparing to make a purchase at a retail store instead of online, it’s still helpful to compare prices online to make sure you have a firm grasp of how much items are available for. Price comparison sites have made it pretty easy to get quick information from a number of sources about prices on electronics, furniture and travel and more.
PriceGrabber covers many options like electronics, clothing, appliances, cameras and more. Kayak is a great resource to compare travel sites, and offers continuous monitoring of saved searches in case prices change. And don’t forget the “Shopping” section on search engines like Bing and Google that can each quickly retrieve options on items from many different online outlets.
Learn how to search for online coupons or promo codes
Before making a purchase, it’s common to want to Google items to see if you can find a promotional code (a sequence of numbers or letters you can enter at checkout to get an immediate discount). This will often turn up a lot of questionable sites that seem designed for the sole purpose of simply getting you to click on them. Carefully look at the source for each results. However, many legitimate sites also offer immediate savings: Some of the best money saving sites for online deals include solutions like RetailMeNot, FatWallet and Dealspl.us are better choices than some of the ones with with long hyphenated names in their urls.
Another thing to look for in these results is whether any of these discounts are coming directly from the manufacturer. It may be OK to click on the sponsored ads from your search if it looks like it will take you to the brand’s website. Also keep in mind – not all sites will feature the same offers, so look around for the best deals online. Not that there are also websites such as Valpak, Red Plum and Smart Source that are extensions of physical coupon mailers and inserts that many receive in the mail or in the newspaper you can reference as well.
Don’t pay just for coupons
Be leery of paying a subscription fee to an online coupon service. Ask yourself if you think a known brand would align with the site in question by providing special offers to them. Chances are, you’ll find that the only thing they provide is material you could have found elsewhere on your own for free.
Keep an eye on local group deal and daily email savings sites
Groupon ushered in a new way for consumers to do business, harnessing the power of groups to entice retailers and manufacturers to offer services at a steep discount in an effort to attract customers who otherwise might not ever visit them. However, while the deals can be great, there are also horror stories, such as the small cupcake bakery in the UK who offered a 75% discount on cupcakes in holiday 2011, only to be swamped with so many orders that they had to pay so much for additional staff and supplies that they lost nearly $20,000. Most are simply great solutions for customers and small businesses alike, though. Signing up for them is free of charge, and since the deals will be e-mailed to you, you can simply delete or ignore those that aren’t interesting to you.
Here are five of top daily, weekly and local deals sites that we think it’s worth subscribing to. Remember, these are places that will send offers to you, and aren’t outlets where you are able to actively seek deals on specific products (unless they happen to be featuring them).