“How to Turn Your Old iPhone or iPad into a Security Camera” – NBC News, 9 September 2013

Instead of racking your brain, trying to figure out what to do with your old smartphones and tablets, reuse your devices with these apps:

Presence is a free app that acts as a security camera for your home. After you install the app on your old and new devices, it will use your WiFi to broadcast a remote monitor of your home to your new device. You can use it in any part of your home and watch it from anywhere.

Though not free like Presence, Google Chromecast is an accessory that plugs in to the HDMI port of your TV, allowing you to stream video content from your laptop, table or phone. Chromecast is only currently compatible with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Google’s web browser Chrome, with the promise of more companies joining Chromecast soon.

Kindle MatchBook, brought to you by Amazon, is a new service that lets you purchase an e-book version — either for a minimal price, or free — of whatever print edition you buy from MatchBook. This service also applies to any past print editions you may have purchased. In order for you to receive an e-book version, books have to be in the MatchBook program, but the program has thousands of books, dating all the way back from 1995.

Electronic waste is a growing, ugly global problem with no easy economical and environmental RECYCLING solutions. Our ever-growing consumerism makes it harder to REDUCE our appetite for new devices. New products and models are constantly introduced, with little to no interchangeability between and among brands – REUSING electronic devices may be the best option to practice the THREE R’s, while lowering our personal carbon footprint on planet earth.

This is a great way to incorporate the Three R’s into your lifestyle. Rather than throwing away your old devices, repurpose them with new apps and accessories.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 18, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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Phinix LLC Publishes Sustainability Gone Postal!, a book based on our 15-part blog series inspired by the USPS “Go Green” Stamp Collection

Phinix LLC is very happy to announce the publication of our new book, Sustainability Gone Postal!, a short book based on our 15-Part blog series inspired by the United States Postal Service’s “Go Green” Stamp Collection.

This 15-Part volume describes practical, real-life tips for achieving a greener lifestyle. Each colorful chapter offers valuable insights from leading experts in ecology, environmentalism, and energy efficiency. Sustainability Gone Postal! addresses the following topics:

  • Local Produce Reuse Bags
  • Walking as Transportation
  • Recycling More Often
  • Using Public Transportation
  • Fixing Water Leaks
  • Bicycling as Transportation
  • Using Efficient Light Bulbs
  • Carpooling and Ride Sharing
  • Working with Compost
  • Planting Trees and Vegetation
  • Controlling Your Thermostat Efficiently
  • Saving Electricity
  • Using “Natural” Power
  • Insulating Your Home
  • Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

Following the launch of our book, we plan to develop a presentation and lecture materials to broad audiences interested in topics concerning ecology, sustainability, and green living.

To learn more about our book, and order your copy, please visit: http://www.lulu.com/shop/subodh-das-and-austin-mckinney/sustainability-gone-postal-a-blog-series-inspired-by-the-usps-go-green-stamp-collection/paperback/product-20591643.html?showPreview=true

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Austin McKinney.

January 7th, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net skdas@phinix.net

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Why We Don’t Recycle More Aluminum and Rare Earth Elements

On Tuesday, I was interviewed by The Clear Clean Energy View radio show. The title of my segment, “Why We Don’t Recycle More Aluminum and Rare Earth Elements”, was mainly about aluminum – but more specifically, it was about society’s role in the use and recycling of natural resources.

A World View

Most of the US’s raw materials based products and processes were designed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and were created based on the idea that we have an unlimited supply of primary materials. At that time, the world population was 4 billion, and consumption was relatively low. Now, in 2012, the world population is over 6 billion; and with such an increase, you can imagine how consumption has increased and raw material supplies have dwindled.

The US doesn’t have enough resources, so a lot of natural resources and manufactured goods are imported (the US is the largest importer of manufactured goods). Much of the metals we use – such as rare earth metals that are used for energy production sources and electronic devices – are mined in Africa. This practice of mining was glamorized in the movie Blood Diamond; though the movie was a Hollywood depiction of the African industry of mining for blood elements, the concept is not far from the real thing. In this mining industry, imperfect work conditions and human rights issues abound . Raw materials required for making one aluminum can had to travel 8,000 miles, from origination, just to be discarded. While consumption in the 1950’s and 1960’s was limited, our current consumption is growing. There are many ethical and economic, as well as resource-limiting, reasons to increase the US recycling rate.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It is a fact that recycling aluminum is cheaper than creating more materials – recycling is the most energy efficient and resource conserving activity. The US’s current recycling rate is 55%; and while it is improving, there are many other countries who have a higher recycling rate than us: Brazil, China, India, Japan and Norway (just to name a few) have rates well into the 90 percentile.

To use the term loosely, we are lazy consumers. There are three primary reasons for that:

  1. The convenience to recycle is not there. The culture to recycle is also not there – we are used to buying and throwing, which has become our consumer habit.
  1. Products are not being designed with recycling in mind. For commercial and marketing reasons, companies create cans made of multiple alloys.
  1. There is too much product differentiation, which has become a detriment to sustainability. For example, American ice cream shops have a variety of flavor choices, which causes us to use more materials. Many of these flavored ice creams are not eaten – the tubs sit in the ice cream shops and unnecessarily occupy space and use materials. Recyclability and sustainability are highly reduced if there are so many varieties of a product.

The Intersection of Technology and Sustainability

Every cell phone uses a multiple of elements, almost 50-60 different kinds. Many of these elements are not recycled; and these cell phones that are made from rare earth and critical elements are often discarded when a new cell phone model is released.

June Stoyer, the host of The Clear Clean Energy View, made a valid point. She said, “Marketing – that’s how they make money. No one will buy the old stuff if it’s the same.”

The mistake that manufacturers make is that they don’t design products based on recyclability. Manufacturers must think about recyclability, and this has to happen from the design phase and not the post-consumer phase. Manufacturers should design a product based on the assumption that one day it will be recycled. When manufacturers make faster and newer products, older products become unwanted and hinder sustainability. Manufacturers are not being conservative with their resources.

The Driving Force

It falls to society to be aware that our earth’s resources are limited. It is hard to say where the driving force for recycling will develop. Three areas of consideration are:

  1. Government Action:  Eleven states have deposit laws for cans, and these states have a 75% aluminum-recycling rate. The remaining 39 states hover around 45%. Government legislation helps, but is frequently opposed by companies who make beverages.
  1. Consumer awareness: Consumers must ask themselves, “Do I need the latest electronic product? Is it necessary?”
  1. Quality of Life: Too many products may result in a lack of exercise; too much time spent with technology could also result in a loss of family life and social skills.

All three aspects – grassroots, government legislation and scientific studies – must be considered in order to increase recycling rates. We must incorporate awareness into our everyday lifestyles.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

October 12, 2012

Copyright 2012. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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United States Postal Service Launches Electronic Recycling Program

With last month’s release of the iPhone 5, consumers worldwide are scrambling to get their hands on Apple’s most recent creation. With over 5 million new iPhones sold during the initial launch weekend alone, many consumers may now find themselves in a new predicament: “What do I do with my old phone?” While there are many options at your disposal, the United States Post Office has recently launched a new program that invites Americans to recycle their small electronic devices.

With the launch of this electronics recycling program, consumers will not only be able to recycle their electronic waste, but actually receive cash for the value of their items. According to Waste360:

 The Postal Service is working with MaxBack, an electronics recycling company that specializes in recycling unwanted electronics or buying them back. The USPS adds that shipping is free.

The USPS has a website, www.usps.com/ship/recycle-through-usps.htm, where consumers can search for their electronic device, receive a quote and mail the product. Once MaxBack receives the item, they’ll inspect it and send cash in return.

 Even if the product has no refund value, free recycling mail-back envelopes are available for customers from participating USPS locations to ship their small used electronics, such as cell phones, smart phones, MP3 players, digital cameras or used ink jet cartridges.

 In previous blogs, we have noted the dangers of E-waste, the scraps and remnants of obsolete digital technology. E-waste is different from other recyclable materials because it often contains harmful chemicals and materials. This new program from the USPS will offers Americans a convenient and environmentally friendly way to dispose of their obsolete devices, and possibly earn a little money in the process.

To learn how you can recycle your electronics with the United States Postal Service, visit the USPS website here: https://www.usps.com/ship/recycle-through-usps.htm






Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Austin McKinney.

October 10th, 2012

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2012. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net skdas@phinix.net

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