The average person already knows the little things they can do each day to save the planet: recycle, unplug appliances when they’re not in use, change to energy efficient light bulbs. Only the diehard green guru typically delves deeper to come up with ways to lower their carbon footprint while also giving back. Here are five easy ways to make a difference while going green:
Almost any electronic item can be donated or recycled. Many wireless service providers allow customers to simply bring cell phones, chargers, and accessories into their retail stores to recycle free-of-charge. Companies like BestBuy, Radio Shack and Nextworth even offer gift cards in return for recycled items including laptops, GPS, cell phones, PDAs, gaming systems, and televisions.
Donating electronics is also a great option. Cell Phones For Soldiers has kept over 10 million cell phones out of landfills since 2004 and provided deployed and returning soldiers with free communication with their loved-ones. You simply print a free shipping label online & send. Groups can even use electronic recycling as a fundraiser. By teaming up with Project Kopeg, groups who collect 30 or more cell phones, chargers, pocket PCs, PDAs, Inkjet cartridges, iPods and MP3 players, and digital cameras can exchange them for cash to benefit their school, church or non-profit.
- Product Packaging
Product packaging is the leading source of household trash. Through TerraCycle, you can send in these items, make money for charity, and save the planet. For each item donated, TerraCycle donates a few pennies to your favorite charity. They then take the items and recycle them into cool products like the Bicycle Chain Picture Frame and Capri Sun Drink Pouch Backpack. You can send your items to Terracycle using the free shipping label or donate items via a local collection program.
While books might not be difficult to recycle or donate, they are sometimes hard to part with. You think you may read it again and you spent money on it, you might as well keep it. BookMooch.com has a solution. Donate your gently loved books and earn points towards buying new ones. You simply set up a profile, list the items you want to give away and respond to users looking for those items. Each book you post on the site earns you 1/10th of a point. When sold, the book earns you 1 point (3 if sent to another country). Each book you “mooch” costs you 1 point (2 if mailed from another country). The points can even be donated to Book Mooch’s partner charities including Books For Keeps, Comics 2 Kids, and Books for Schools & Classrooms.
- Holiday Cards
Even in this age of e-cards, Americans still purchase 7 billion greeting cards every year. Unless you’re auditioning for the next season of Hoarders, chances are you throw away most of the cards you receive in your lifetime. They can obviously be recycled conventionally through your town’s paper recycling program or you can donate them to a good cause. Saint Jude’s Ranch, a non-profit youth home that provides counseling for troubled youth, has created a program where the kids refurbish the cards by cutting off the fronts and attaching new backs. They then sell the cards to earn money and work experience.
- Sporting Equipment
While your sporting equipment can earn you money on Ebay or at your local Play It Again Sports, there are several non-profits through which your items will make a difference. Bicycles are in particularly high demand and can be donated through charities like Re-cycle, a group invested in collecting cycles and shipping them to Africa. These bicycles are donated to public and to AIDS and health workers. A bicycle can enable someone living in a less economically developed country to travel to work, school or to fetch water in minutes, not hours.
These are just 5 quick ideas to get you started. Learn more cool ways to give back by joining the community of people & organizations who share your values at AltruHelp.com