Project Cleanup—Part 1: The Green Factor

10 Jan

The start of a new year brings the opportunity to set personal goals, and we all know the usual suspects: loosing weight, saving money, and exercising. But, along with promising to cut back on the vanilla fudge swirl,  January is also a great time to set professional goals. One of my indy worker resolutions for 2012 is to clean up and organize my home studio. I want to be able to be more productive there, and eventually have a co-working space. (There’ll be more on that in a future post.) At the same time, I want to keep as much of my junk out of a landfill as possible. The good news is that there are some great resources for ditching your goods while being environmentally responsible, and you’ll find some of my favorites after the jump.

State-of-the-Art Tech, circa 1988

Recycle TechnoTrash at

A thousand years from now, archeologists on digs will brush off all those 3.5-inch diskettes that held a whoppin’ 1.44 MB: roughly a 2.35-inch sqare, 300 ppi .psd file. For just $9.95 plus shipping, you can send up to 25 pounds of your technotrash to GreenDisk for recycling. Even more cool is that they’ll securely destroy any data from those CD-R’s you burned your 1998 Tax Returns to. Here’s a list of what they’ll take.

Get Cash for Cell Phones, iPods, and More at

If you’re grumbling about shelling out a few bucks to recycle your computer waste, here’s a way to make a few of them back. This site will pay for your used (or broken) gadgets, and will also spring for the shipping. Just search for your item, answer a few questions, and get an offer instantly.

Find an e-Waste Recycling Event

Finally ready to ditch that Betamax? Many communities hold events to recycle old electronics throughout the year. Here in NYC, Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding its 9th Annual series of “After the Holidays” e-waste events, from January 14-28, 2012. For other areas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a list of eCycling resources.

Shipping It

Other than walking or biking your stuff from point A to point B, ground transportation is the most environmentally sound way of getting it there. I don’t own a car, so I either have to schlep everything (it’s NYC) that I can recycle locally on the bus or subway, or pay for a taxi. Fortunately, there are better options for my back and wallet.

For just over 10 bucks, the U.S. Postal Service has a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Medium Box, which will get anything to most places in the U.S. in 2 days. Pack in whatever fits, print a label, and as long as there’s nothing hazardous inside, you can skip the line at the post office and drop the shipment in any mailbox.

For larger boxes, UPS allows you to create and pay for shipments online, print airbills, and schedule pickups.

Selling, Swapping, or Donating It

One person’s trash is another one’s treasure, as the saying goes. If your stuff is in good shape, you can likely get a few bucks for it from eBay, or

For books, I love Post your old ones, and when a member requests one, you pay to ship it. There’s even an option to buy and print postage right from the site. Once your book is received, you get a credit that allows you to request a replacement, paid to ship to you by the sender, which is how the swapping happens.

Lastly, you can always donate your stuff to a charity, like The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, or a local organization, such as Housing Works here in NYC, or a place of worship.

Remember Receipts for Tax Purposes
Think like a business person! Any money you shell out offsets your income, and may help decrease your tax liability. Save your receipts, and ask your tax advisor if you can write these expenses off on your 2012 Returns. Especially if you’re donating goods to a charity, you’ll need a written acknowledgement to claim your donation as a tax deduction.


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