Recycle, Reduce & Reuse Facts – Action Steps & Solutions


Big MaMa Earth supports the (3-R’s), Recycling, Reducing & Reusing. Big MaMa Earth is working together with schools and businesses to educate children in proper Recycling, Reducing and Reusing of E-Waste,  Printer Cartridges, Plastics & Plastic Bottles, Glass Bottles, Cardboard, Aluminum & Aluminum Cans & Bottles, Steel & Steel Cans, etc..

Big MaMa Earth offers schools, non-profit organizations and charities an opportunity to participate in an E-Waste and Cell Phone & Printer Cartridge collection fund rasing event.

We have partnered with the Funding Factory, please click on the following link and register today and let Big MaMa Earth support your event to help clean up the Planet and raise money for your organization.

We also ask that you PLEASE DONATE to the BIG MAMA EARTH LEARNING ACADEMY. To make a donation or to become a Sponsor or Partner with Big MaMa Earth Learning Academy, please call us at 888-849-1233.

One of Big MaMa Earth’s Green Partners also teaches energy saving solutions whereby a homeowner can reduce thier AC electic bill cost by up to 90% with a Whole House or Attic fan.  Find energy solutions on thier website at


What is E-Waste?
Think of e-waste as anything that you need to plug in that you want to throw out. Items that are defined as e-waste (things with circuit boards) are not allowed in the trash, and need to be properly recycled and repurposed by state law. But more than what’s legal, it’s the GREEN thing to do! Big MaMa Earth will help you recycle the following items for FREE:

Televisions | Fax Machines | Oscilloscopes | Computer Monitors | Optical Drives| PC Boards / Computers | DVD Players | Loose PCBAs | Laptops | VCR / Beta | Keyboards | Cables & Cords / Printers | Radios | Computer Mice | Stereo Components | Hard Drives | Tape & Zip Drives

Where can I recycle my e-waste?
CLICK the Recycling Centers button to find your Big MaMa Earth location to recycle your e-waste for free!

Is there a fee to recycle my e-waste?
If you DROPoff your e-waste at a Big MaMa Earth DROPoff location, there is absolutely no cost! If you want us to PICKup your e-waste, see our rates and to request an e-waste PICKup.

We also collect cell phones and printer cartridges.
Big MaMa Earth can help you recycle unwanted cell phones and printer cartridges.  


Remarkable Energy Saving Facts


Whole House Fans Can Cut Your AC Electric Cost 50%-90%.

Whole house fans draw cooler outside air in through your open windows or doors which lowers the room temperature by as much as 10 to 20 degrees

Your open windows or doors serve as intake vents, which allow you to control the air flow by selecting how many or which windows or doors you open. Moving air, blowing through the whole house cools the occupants.

The cooling breeze can lower the skin temperature by 5 to 10 degrees F.  The fresh, cooler air, after passing through the living space, is forced into the attic which pushes the hot attic air out through the attic vents.

This can lower the attic air temperature by as much as 40 degrees F which could get as high as a 170 degrees in the summer months.  Now you can cool your home and saving energy at the same time.

Source: Factory Fans Direct – For information on energy saving whole house fans, call Factory Fans Direct at 1-888-849-1233 or review their informational website at


Remarkable Recycling Facts


Acceptable items are: plastic bottles (with a number 1 or number 2 imprinted on the bottom), steel and aluminum cans, newspaper and mixed paper (anything that tears including junk mail, magazines, catalogs, phone books, envelopes, office paper, wrapping paper, etc.) Cardboard is accepted at dropoff centers and can also be placed in your bin.

Paper (all grades, including newspaper, cardboard and office paper):  By recycling one ton (2,000 lbs.) of paper, we save: 17 trees; 7,000 gallons of water; 79 gallons of oil; 587 pounds of air pollution; 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,077 Kilowatt hours of energy.
Around 45% of the paper Americans use each year (over 53 million tons) is recovered for recycling. This is made into a wide variety of goods such as new newsprint, boxes and office paper, paper towels, tissue products, insulation, cereal boxes, molded packaging, hydro-mulch, gypsum wallboard – even compost and kitty litter!
80% of U.S. papermakers use some recovered fiber in manufacturing, and nearly 200 mills use ONLY recovered paper for their fiber.
The average American uses 650 lbs. of paper per year.
100 million tons of wood could be saved each year if all that paper was actually recycled!

Sources: American Forest & Paper Association, Inc.; Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Weyerhaeuser

It only takes 12 20oz. PET bottles to yield enough fiber for an extra-large T-shirt
Americans go through 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
Since 1978, the weight of a soda bottle has been reduced by 29%.
HDPE (#1) and PET (#2) are the most commonly recycled plastics.
Recycling a ton of PET saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
Half of all polyester carpet manufactured in the US is made from recycled soda bottles.
Recycled plastic is also made into plastic lumber, clothing, flower pots, insulation for sleeping bags & ski jackets, car bumpers and more.

Sources: American Plastics Council, Environmental Defense, NAPCOR

Currently 100% of all beverage cans are made from aluminum. Aluminum cans made their first appearance in America in 1953.
We use about 392 cans per person per year.
Aluminum cans typically have a recycled aluminum content of about 55%.
Recycling aluminum saves about 95% of the energy it would take to produce aluminum from its original source, bauxite.
Over 50% of the aluminum cans produced are recycled.
Every minute of every day, an average of 113,204 aluminum cans are recycled.
Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to run a TV for three hours.
Aluminum recycling is so efficient that it can take as few as 60 days for a can to be collected, melted down and made into a new can sitting on a grocery store shelf.
Recycled aluminum is made into cans, pie pans, house siding, small appliances, lawn furniture; in fact , almost everything aluminum.

Sources: The Aluminum Association, Inc.; National Soft Drink Association

The steel (or “tin”) can was invented in England in the early 1800s. Nowadays an increasing amount of steel cans are tin free.
The average American uses 142 steel cans annually.
Recycling 1 ton of steel conserves 2500 lbs. of iron ore, 1400 lbs. of coal, and 120 lbs. of limestone from natural resources.
Recycling just one car saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.
Through recycling each year, the steel industry saves enough energy to power 18 million homes – one-fifth of the households in the US.
Recycled steel is made into steel cans, building materials, tools – in fact, almost everything steel.

Sources: Steel Recycling Institute; Environmental Protection Agency


For Students
Waste Reduction and Recycling

Quick Tips:
• Before starting a new school year, sort through the school supplies on-hand. Many supplies, like notebooks or pens and pencils, can be reused or recycled. You can share your used books and other school supplies with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren.
• For school proms, dances, or other events, decorations and other supplies can be borrowed or rented. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse them.
• Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition.
• If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste if your school has separation bins!
• To reduce packaging waste, use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging, use compact or concentrated products, or buy products that come in bulk sizes.




Community Service and Volunteering

Quick Tips:
• Volunteer for, or start, an environmental club or recycling project in your school. Work with your teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make waste reduction a part of their everyday lives, such as by starting a school composting project or ask for a day in art class where you can use things that would have normally been thrown away.
• Tell your teachers you want to have a time dedicated to learning more about what you and your fellow classmates can do for the environment.
• Pass it on! Share the “buy smart” message with your family, friends and schoolmates.
• Volunteer for, or start, an environmental club or recycling project in your school.




Quick Tips:
• When making reservations at campgrounds, ask about their recycling facilities.
• Book flights with airlines that offer electronic tickets to reduce paper waste.
• Before you leave home, adjust the air conditioning and water heater thermostats to conserve energy.
• When visiting beaches and parks, be sure to take out everything you bring in, so that you leave places unlittered and undisturbed.
• At the beach, use old buckets and other items in your house to build sand castles instead of buying new products at the store.
• When you leave your hotel room, switch off the air conditioning, lights, and TV to reduce energy use.
• To pass the time on long drives or rainy vacation days, bring scrap paper for drawing and games.
• Hot summer days require gallons of thirst quenchers. Be sure to recycle the used beverage containers. Consider putting a filter on your water tap and refilling bottles with the filtered water. Instead of buying many small drink bottles, buy drinks or drink mixes in bulk and fill reusable bottles



Why purchase a Halloween costume that you will probably only use once and then throw away? Instead, use old clothes or buy used clothes from a consignment shop to make your costume. Also remember to use reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones for trick-or-treating.
• Make the most of your jack o’ lantern. Use the removed meat to make pumpkin pie or muffins and roast the seeds as a fun holiday snack. When the holiday is over, cut up your carved pumpkin before it spoils and toss it in the compost bin.
• If you host a party, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses, and silverware. Consider renting more formal tableware that you might not use very often. Also save and reuse party hats, decorations, and favors.
• After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
• Show your guests where to put recyclables such as aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers.
• After parties, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. You will run fewer cycles, which saves energy.
• Have a create-your-own-decorations party! Invite family and friends to create and use holiday decorations such as ornaments made from old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, wreaths made from artificial greens and flowers, and potpourri made from kitchen spices such as cinnamon and cloves.
• After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.




• Winterize your vehicle by checking your air filter and fluid levels, checking tires for tread wear and proper inflation, and checking the condition of your windshield wipers. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for weather changes will reduce damage, which prevents waste from broken parts, and will keep you safe on the road.
• Use electric snow removal products rather than gasoline-powered ones. While electric products consume energy, they do not emit greenhouse gases. As alternatives, use snow shovels, ice crackers, and brooms to clear snow from your sidewalk, porch, or driveway.
• If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden.
• Winter storms often cause power outages. Prevent waste by keeping rechargeable batteries rather than disposable ones stored throughout your house with your flashlights. If you do use disposable batteries, prevent hazardous waste by buying batteries with low mercury content.
• Many articles of clothing, such as jackets, scarves, gloves, and boots, are now made from recycled materials. Most fleece products are made from recycled plastic soda bottles, and certain clothing and shoe manufacturers use recycled cotton scraps and rubber tires to make their products.
• “Recycle” old newspapers by making rolled paper logs for your fireplace. Roll newspaper sheets around a broom stick until your log is the desired size, then soak your log thoroughly in water. Dry the log overnight and use like ordinary wood. Always follow proper safety precautions when burning anything around your home.
• Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.



Electronics Recycling:

What are your eco-friendly options?

One of the newest issues facing Oregon residents is the proper disposition of end-of-life (EOL) electronics.  In 2005, Oregonians threw away 32,500 tons of computers, televisions and other out-of-date electronics, mostly into landfills or dumps. Many devices contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead or cadmium. If electronic equipment is intact and disposed of properly, the materials generally pose no health or environmental hazards, however, when broken, toxic chemicals are released into the ground and water, causing contamination.

Many of these toxic chemicals are persistent and bio-accumulate. This means the toxic chemicals do not break down into safer components, and they can accumulate and leach into our surrounding environment.

While the issue of electronic purchasing, reuse and recycling is a hot topic on the US environmental plate, there is a lot that Oregonians can do to protect themselves and the environment from these hazards. First, we can educate ourselves on environmentally preferable equipment to purchase. Second, we can perform our due diligence on the recycler we give our used equipment to; and know the difference between reuse and recycling. Thanks to a new state-wide law that went into affect Jan. 1st, 2009, Oregon E-Cycles provides free recycling of computers, monitors and TVs.

Greener Purchasing

Consumers interested in purchasing products for their home or business can find options via EPEAT.  EPEAT was developed for organizations that buy computers on large purchase contracts and participating manufacturers primarily register products that are bought by institutional purchasers. However, EPEAT is available to consumers for free and is an effective way to identify environmentally preferable products. EPEAT’s listing includes electronic equipment with few environmentally sensitive materials, consuming less energy, and offering longer product life cycles.

Responsible Re-Use or Recycling: Why It’s Important

And why should we be concerned about where our electronics end up? The answer is two fold: because the US has yet to outlaw the use of toxic materials in electronic equipment, and because the laws meant to protect developing countries from our e-waste are difficult to enforce. Here are the toxics most commonly used in electronics:

Lead – Each cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor and television contains approximately 4-8 lbs of lead. Lead is toxic to the kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems, and inhibits mental development of young children and fetuses. Lead is also found in solder (material that adheres components to circuit boards). Improper dumping of electronics may account for 40% of lead in landfills.

Cadmium – Found in semiconductors, chip resistors, infrared detectors, older types of CRTs, and some plastics, cadmium is linked to kidney damage and is harmful to fragile bones. Nickel-cadmium batteries are the most common cadmium-based products. Cadmium has been found in water, air, soil, and food.

Brominated Flame Retardants (BFR’s) are used in plastics. An average computer is comprised of up to 13 lbs of plastic, mixed with one if not more toxic substance. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE’s), a type of BFR, was originally used in television sets to reduce the combustibility during a fire, allowing more escape time. However, PBDE’s have been recognized as an endocrine disrupter, and can cause harm to a developing fetus. In some places plastics are burned, spreading this toxic substance throughout the atmosphere.

Mercury – Mercury has no positive effect on the human system. Low-level exposure to mercury in the womb can cause brain damage in children. High doses of mercury can be fatal. Its compounds primarily affect the central nervous system, kidneys, liver and can disturb immune processes.  Although the principle pathway of mercury exposure is from fish consumption, it is also passed through medical and dental products and lastly from industrial products such as electronics. Mercury from landfill waste streams can end up in the sewage sludge that is sometimes used as agricultural fertilizer; contaminating our soil and food. It can also be passed via breast milk. Mercury is present in our atmosphere via coal fired power stations. Forty-five states in the US have now issued mercury warnings for anglers.  “Mercury has long been recognized as a major source of toxicity in children causing reduced cognitive functioning, including reduced I.Q.,” says Pediatrician Gavin ten Tusscher. In fact, 70% of environmental mercury now comes from human activities: coal burning, incineration or improper disposal of mercury containing products. Mercury is found in fluorescent light bulbs, flat panel displays (LCD’s), switches, batteries, and printed wiring boards.

In our green state of Oregon, what are we doing to prevent toxic e-waste from entering our landfills or harming those abroad?  In 2007, Oregon passed a law to become one of eight states with producer take back responsibility for certain covered electronic items. The law will go into effect in January 1, 2009, directly benefiting residents, non-profits, churches and small businesses from having to pay out of pocket for recycling.

But the answer to toxic polluting does not end there. While the European Union has implemented a successful take back program for a vast array of electronics, the US lacks a homogenous program and relative federal laws that stipulate the proper disposition of material handling. Therefore, the burden falls upon the equipment owner to properly dispose of their e-waste.


While reuse sounds like a great idea, take caution when seeking a recycler or non-profit that refurbishes and turns out older systems. A recent article from the Associated Press highlights the problem of e-waste brokers exporting used electronics for disposal under the cover of donating used systems. “Reuse is the new excuse. It’s the new passport to export,” said Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network. “Other countries are facing this glut of exported used equipment under the pretext that it’s all going to be reused.”  It is further estimated that over 500 shipping containers full of e-waste arrive in Lagos, Nigeria for improper disposal every month, mostly sent from the US and most of which is burnt or smashed.

If you choose to use a non-profit or for-profit recycling company to recycle and dispose of your old equipment, you should ask where the recyclable items end up. Some items and components end up in waste dumps, rather than being recycled. Others are loaded into shipping containers and sent overseas to be sold through brokers, or they are recycled using unsafe methods and hazardous chemicals. How can you help reduce the two to four million tons of e-waste from the US which ends up overseas each year for hazardous recycling?


Know your options. While some recyclers do not focus on remarketing, others do and most charge a fee to dispose of your equipment if it goes to destruction. If you really are concerned, seek an ISO 14001 Certified company; this high standard of environmental performance means the recycler’s environmental management system is audited annually by a 3rd party for environmental responsibility, preventing pollution, and continuous improvement.

If you are a business generator of e-waste, does the firm pay you for the commodities they resell or do they call it “free” recycling and keep all the profits? As of Jan. 1st, 2009, Oregonians can safely recycle computers, monitors and TV’s for free.  Anyone ready to part with their
equipment are encouraged to ask a series of questions:

  • What type of certification is available to document that the equipment was properly recycled?
  • Does the firm have the necessary federal, state and local permits?
  • How does the firm deal with data, especially HIPPA information?
  • Does the firm perform environmental audits on downstream vendors?
  • How does the firm deal with Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT’s)?
  • Does the firm have direct relationships with primary circuit board (CB) smelters for precious metals recovery? (If not, these high value items are likely sold to a broker in the US who can dispose of them in any manner they choose.) Are all CB’s sent to a primary?
  • If items are refurbished for reuse what specifications must this item meet? (How responsible is it to donate an item for reuse that is not compatible with today’s hardware and software? Is your item old to you? Then how long will it truly benefit someone who doesn’t have the means to pay for the recycling when it no longer works?)
  • “We deal with items responsibly.”  What does responsible mean? Keep digging. Ask if you can visit the recycler and perform a site audit to see their operations.
  • How does the facility appear? Are your items stored inside? Do workers have personal protective equipment? What type of security does the firm have?
  • Can the firm track the materials it processes?

The two most critical items to recycle are CRTs and circuit boards. CRTs have 4-8 lbs of lead, once the monitor is dismantled down to the lead-filled tube, the tubes should be sent to a lead recovery facility that can properly recapture and reuse the material. Monitors and televisions should never end up in a landfill. Since there are no primary circuit board smelters in the US, does the firm send their circuit boards to a US based facility? If so, these organizations may not be recovering the precious metals, forcing increased mining on our earth. Or they are sending the circuit boards overseas for workers in China, Africa, or India to process in substandard, unhealthy working conditions. Some homes in developing countries double as smelter operations, with little to no protection from processes used to recover these metals.

While not all electronics exporting is universally harmful, donors of e-waste should be very cautious and know the precise disposition of materials.


The Seattle-based nonprofit Basel Action Network has created an “e-Stewards” program, where recyclers pledge not to export, dump or use prison labor to deconstruct electronics. Find out more about the pledge here and find local recyclers who have signed the pledge here:

For more about disposition of e-waste and the new Oregon E-Waste Law visit

To find out more about the issues associated with exporting e-waste, see Basel Action Network’s report, “Exporting Harm: TheHigh Tech Trashing of Asia” here. [PDF]

This information was provided by Sharon Baker, Email reference:

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