Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Fair & Square Send Off

I was poking around in one of my closets again, doing DeKlutter Assessment, that is, reconnaissance for possible, future deklutter projects. Ohhhhh, the forgotten things I found up on my closet shelves! Birthday presents for example! I called myself trying to be proactive so I wouldn't end up running around at the last minute, and then forgot they were up there! So, I probably ended up running around at the last minute, anyway! But that's a tale for another time.


Anyhow, while I was so engaged, I found another shoebox of fabric swatches!

If you recall, in Fabric Free, I talked about the swathes of fabric that I had accumulated when I belonged to not one, not two, but three fabric clubs(!) and that I had stashed this bonanza away up on a closet shelf, but that I finally managed to part with it (well most of it) by donating the fabric to Materials for the Arts. You may also recall that I had also accumulated the swatches (about 2" x 2" square) the fabric clubs would send once or twice a month, and that I had come across a whole shoebox full of them in another closet!


Well, I found another box of them this week! Yes I did.

What I didn't tell you, was that back when I found the first box, I was actually able to identify a new home for the them. Since I will be sending this more recently discovered stash to the same place, I thought it would be useful to share my Exit Strategy for these goodies, in case someone out there in the blogosphere finds themselves in a similar predicament. Don't look so skeptical. It could happen!

Unlike the lengths of fabric, I ended up sending the swatches somewhere else. A woman named Joyce, had posted a small classified ad at one of the reuse/recycle websites I frequent. Apparently she works at a senior center or a nursing home and she was looking for beads and "findings" to use the beading classes she teaches there. At the time, I wasn't exactly sure what "findings" were, but I decided to contact her about the fabric swatches to see if she might have any use for them. It turns out that she did!

They have various arts & crafts and sewing classes for the seniors and Joyce advised that they could use the swatches to make lap robes for people in wheelchairs at the nursing home. Having found this other box of them, I followed up with her to see if she could still use them and she assured me that she could.

As I also learned, findings are the different accent beads that are used in making jewelry. For example in a necklace, there may be five beads of one type, then an accent bead of another, to provide contrast. At the center, the seniors will take old necklaces apart, use the beads, and create something different. Even chain-type necklaces can be taken apart and the sections used in a new necklace. Earring wires and clip-ons are also considered to be findings.

I had some old necklaces I knew I was not going to wear again, so I threw those in along with the swatches. Joyce was very happy to receive everything.


I popped the fabric into a small mailer and headed to my favorite place, the post office!

So if have any old jewelry or necklaces that you don't want and don't know what to do with, send these items her way. She can definitely use them! Joyce can be reached at

    tiredted [at] comporium [dot] net

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Tricks for Old Cell Phones: CollectiveGood

There are millions upon millions of cell phones either lying around collecting dust in people's homes, waiting to be recycled, or which may have already been tossed intot the trash. Millions more will be added to one of these three categories with each passing year. In A Tale of Two Computers, I talked about how recycling electronics was relatively easy compared to other items, because of the existence of numerous ways and opportunities to responsibly dispose of such gadgetry (also referred as "e-waste" or "technotrash", see Green Disk)".

There are

  • periodically scheduled municipal drop-offs (see A Tale of Two Computers)
  • manufacturer or retail store "take-backs". Check out
  • various non-profit organizations that collect them for recycling or that refurbish and redistribute them for use by others (throw the terms +"recycle" and +"cell phone" into your favorite search engine and take your pick)

So, I'll say it yet again:

There is really no good reason not to make the effort to
responsibly dispose of your unwanted electronics!

Furthermore, cell phones as well as other electronic equipment, contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic which the EPA has deemed to be hazardous waste. Therefore, simply throwing your cell phone into the trash is a bad move. If it ends up in a landfill those toxic materials can leach into the ground and seep into local water supplies. This is an even better reason to make the effort as much as possible, to responsibly dispose of your cell phone.

The existence or establishment of processes, policies or programs that facilitate and encourage consumers to responsibly dispose of a product at the end of its useful life is known as "product stewardship" or "extended product responsibility". This helps to minimize a product's impact on the environment. You can read more about this concept at the EPA's Extended Product Responsibility page.


Well, of course I had a couple of old cell phones taking up space and decided it was time to divest myself of them. One of the cell phones that I got rid of was what I fondly refer to as a Nokia brick, circa 1997, as opposed to today’s sleeker and infinitely more compact models. Check out these pictures at the Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunication's Telefone 1863-2000 page, to get an idea of what it looked like! Now, when's the last time you saw anyone pull out a cell phone like that? Yet, Packrat that I am, I had one up until late last year.

GreenDisk, which I talked about in an earlier post, accepts a variety of electronic waste, including cell phones and PDA's. However, for the two cell phones that I was getting rid of, I decided to use another organization called CollectiveGood. They deal specifically with cell phones, PDA's, pagers and related accessories such as battery chargers, and say they accept all makes and models. In fact, they are partnered with Staples to handle the free recycling service for cellular phones, PDAs, pagers, digital cameras, and chargers that the store offers to customers (one component of Staple's big takeback program, which I mentioned above). CollectiveGood will refurbish this equipment for reuse, and will donate a portion of the resulting proceeds to charity. Anything they cannot refurbish will be properly recycled in accordance with the EPA's guidelines.


CollectiveGood's process was pretty simple, which as you know by now, is just the way I like it. At their site all you have to do is:

  1. select a charity from one of those listed with CollectiveGood (your donation will be credited to this organization)
  2. fill out and submit the online form with your contact information so you can receive an acknowledgement of your donation (takes about 10-12 weeks)
  3. print the information/instructions that display once you submit this form and enclose it with your shipment to ensure that your selected charity is properly credited
  4. pack up and send your phone(s) in accordance with those same instructions

Also note!: that whenever, wherever and however you end up donating or recycling a cell phone or similar device, just like a computer, you need to "prep" it. That is, you need to make sure that you have

  • disconnected any services associated with the equipment that you are donating or discarding
  • deleted, erased and/or removed any personal information on such devices (e.g., email addresses, telephone numbers, passwords, photos, etc)

otherwise you run the risk of incurring unauthorized charges or misuse of that personal information. You are responsible for any subsequent mishaps if you fail remove it, not the organization you or donating them to, or any subsequent recipients!!! You can read more about CollectiveGood's polices in this regard at their FAQ page.

The documentation that accompanied your cell phone should have information about how to clear this data from your phone. If by some chance you no longer have the manual (or can't find it) try visiting the manufacturer's website., another cell phone recycling site (I've never used them) has a handy database for finding data removal instructions for a wide variety of cell phone manufacturers and models. Click on the "Erase Your Personal Data" link.


I sent each phone that I had at separate times, however, you can also send multiple items at once. Just make sure to pack them securely. I happened to still have the original boxes they came in, along with the manual and other peripherals that came with them (now, don't even act surprised!), so I packed everything back up in those,I then placed them inside of another cardboard box, just to be on the safe side.

All that was left after that, was to take myself off to the post office, and send them on their merry way.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Exit Strategy Made Easier

A couple of weeks ago, I was poking around the NYC WasteLe$$ site and came across a page that I think is a very cool and invaluable tool for the Packrat. It's the NYC Stuff Exchange. According to the website:
This website offers a quick and simple way for NYC
residents to search for places in their neighborhood
and throughout the city where they can donate, sell,
buy, rent, or repair different types of gently used goods

But of particular interest is the Events Calendar!

What this means, is that for those of you in the NYC area, you can search for possible Exit Strategy opportunities from the comfort of your browser!

You can search

  1. within the following four categories:
    • donation drive
    • rummage sale
    • used book fair
    • swap meet
  2. within specific date ranges
  3. by keyword

It will list the event, the date and time, and the sponsoring organization.

You can also click on the listing for more details such as the specific location of the event, contact information, a website if available, and a little blurb about the items being accepted.

Wowee! I think this is terrific!