Cashing in on E-Waste

Written by Ian Bellamy

What do you do when your mobile phone dies? It’s a shame to simply throw it away, especially since it’s loaded with gold, silver, copper and other valuable raw materials.

Not to mention larger electronic devices, such as computers and tablets.

A German company, ALBA, has agreed to work with their national post office, who will collect any old electronic devices that will fit in an A4-sized envelop. The company will then harvest materials and reuse up to 80 percent of them.

Germany gets over 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and has one the most developed recycling programs in the world.

There is, according to six categories of recyclables in place:

  • the yellow bin for packaging materials,
  • the brown bin for compostables,
  • the blue bin for paper,
  • the white glass bin,
  • the colored glass bin, and
  • the grey bin for the rest of the trash.

Recycling programs such as these are not unheard of. Cell for Cash (who is not currently accepting orders) was known to take old mobile phones and refurbish them for sale in developing countries. The Cash for Clunkers program in the U.S. would also scrap the old vehicles for the metal.

E-Waste is becoming a bigger problem day in and day out, as it accounts for 70 percent of overall toxic garbage.

According to Recyclebank, a company that encourages people to recycle, “The total annual global volume of e-waste is expected to reach about 40 million metric tons. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that we generated 1.5 billion pounds of all kinds of e-waste in 2006. This includes an estimated 44 million computers and televisions.”

Of course, this is only going to increase in time as more people get cell phones and computers and the rate which technology is becoming updated.

It’s harmful to see retired cell phones as “waste,” because in fact it is a resource. A functional phone can be donated, and a broken one can be refurbished or recycled. With the amount of e-waste that is already present and the amount that we will produce in the future, it is inevitable that we will have to keep in mind our limited resources, especially with regard to rare-earth minerals that are found in everyday devices.

We can expect that as the problem of e-waste becomes more dire, we’ll see more programs and companies, and it appears that Germany is leading the way.

Economy still in Decline

Written by: Jason Garoutte

Warning sign stating Slow Economy Ahead.

Slow economy ahead.

The economy is still taking a blow and in a state of decline, despite the slight rise in the stock index seen recently as the DOW Jones index rose above 14,000 points for the first time since 2007. The unemployment rate in the United States as of January 2013 still remains at 7.9 percent with 12.3 million Americans still without work.

Another 8 million workers are considered “under-employed”, having been laid off from higher paying careers and having to settle for  lower paying jobs just to make ends meet. An estimated 2 or 3 million more have simply given up looking for work and are not counted in the government unemployment numbers which are based on applications for unemployment insurance from the Federal government.

It appears that these numbers may increase not only in the next few months but in the upcoming years with many giant retailers closing the doors on numerous locations across the country.

Economists measure economic decline by measuring the income for the whole economy, which is called gross domestic product or GDP. For a recession to take place there must be six straight months with a negative GDP report.

Based on that measure, Americans have been facing a recession for years now and even with the slight increase in the stock market index, there does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel any time soon. There are many factors why an economy might decline and economists don’t always agree on what those factors might be. Some of those factors include declines in the housing market, high unemployment, inflation, high oil prices, government spending, and taxes.

So why is the unemployment rate still at 7.9 percent? Businesses earn less profit during a recession and lay off workers, which leads to less demand for products. If enough workers lose their jobs throughout the economy, then many businesses will earn less in profits and continue to lay off more workers. Increased taxes and regulations can have a further downward pressure on both large and small businesses struggling to maintain profitability much less increase their profit levels.

This is still happening today as eight giant retailers are forecasting numerous closures in the upcoming years. J.C. Penney, who has been struggling since this recession started, continues to struggle. They are forecasting 300 to 350 store closures nationwide. The video game giant GameStop announced it will close the doors on 200 stores in the year 2013 alone, with 300 to 400 more closures to occur in following years.

Other giant retail companies forecasting closures are Best Buy, Sears, Barnes & Noble, Office Max, and Radio Shack. Between 2010 and 2011, Radio Shack closed over 120 locations with even more forecasted in the near future.

All of these store closures mean more and more citizens becoming unemployed, which would once again add to the unemployment rate, which is a leading indicator of economic decline.

Workshops, Press and Studio Rental and Artist Networking Good Business

Written by: Josephine Bridges

Once monthly, Portland, Oregon printmaking studio Atelier Meridian hosts Ink and Drink, a workshop friendly to both printers and imbibers, for $5.00. Participants get much more than they pay for.

Why does this make good business sense?

Ink and Drink is a printmaking workshop, but it is also a social gathering. In fact, the workshop is free of charge to those who come not to make prints but to socialize and network. Here potential printers can meet actual printers, try out printmaking, and learn about the variety of services Atelier Meridian has to offer. Beginners and experienced printers can share inspiration, techniques, and laughter. Adults and children can admire each others’ efforts. Great food and drink abound. It is not at all uncommon for Ink and Drink participants to put more than the $5.00 fee in the big tip jars scattered about the studio.

Atelier Meridian offers both regular and special workshops. Regular workshops take place for three hours two nights a week, and are good value at $15.00 for the Monday Woodcut Open Studio and $10.00 – with an initial supply fee of $15.00 – for the Tuesday Etching Open Studio. Special workshops in everything from monotype to collagraph to letterpress range in price from $95.00 to $225.00 and are scheduled on nights and weekends. Workshop participants are entitled to a bonus: they can print unassisted for free every Friday for the next two months, and some materials are even included.

Printmakers who lack their own printmaking facilities can choose from among the five presses at Atelier Meridian, available for rent by the day for $25.00 or $80.00 for a four-day punch pass. Monthly memberships, which give printers access to the studio except when workshops are in session, are available for $125.00. Monthly members receive discounts on supplies and are eligible for workshop discounts.

In addition, Atelier Meridian offers fine art prints by member artists, students, and visiting artists for sale.

At February’s Ink and Drink, also known as The Third Annual Valentine Smashdown, Atelier Meridian co-founder and master printer Jane Pagliarulo explained that the night’s activities were a fundraiser to “boost our woefully inadequate supply of electricity,” and joked that the business was started as a for-profit venture at the beginning of the recession, “and now we are our own non-profit.”

Atelier Meridian may not be raking in the big bucks, but the studio hasn’t shut its doors, either. Atelier Meridian provides a variety of services at a reasonable cost to the creative community it serves, and those services include fun, which can be good business.

You can see more at

Woman pulls print from press

Master printer Jane Pagliarulo pulls a print at Atelier Meridian's Ink and Drink.





Marketing a New Informational Website

by Emayeneme Gbemiye-Etta

The easiest part of creating a website can be its creation and then the harder part comes, how do you create a path to your website so that you can get the traffic and therefore the advertising and revenue? One always has to keep in mind that there is a difference between traffic to your website and creating an income from that traffic.

What you want to make sure of when you are bringing traffic to your website is that they not only visit but that if you have anything to sell they are either buying from your website or that they are subscribing to your website. People, subscribing to your website ensures that they are more than likely to come back. This means you have a dedicated audience and therefore a reported audience for people interested in advertising on your website.


What are the different ways that you can draw traffic to your website?


  • Create a buzz by writing articles or comments that ensure that your article comes up in the top ten searches on a search engine.


  • Create a profile for the website on social media websites like LinkedIn and face book.


  • Use twitter to provide timely and regular comments about any subject matter and/or articles that are on your website.


  • Create a blog where relevant and innovative information related to the information on your website is posted on a regular basis.


  • Develop partnerships and links online that bring a targeted audience to your website.


  • Embed videos that provide short clips on the subject matter on the website on YouTube but also make sure the video is embedded on your website and at the same time there is a link from YouTube to your website.


  • Market the website with a number of innovative marketing strategies that include:


  • Using key words that are searched enough but are not in competition with large and competitive websites.
  • Make sure the target words on your website are targeted to the traffic that will find the information on your website relevant.
  • Provide interesting and different data that when people find your website they will realize you have relevant information for them and the information will keep them coming back.


For any website you are launching you want to make sure that you are marketing to a targeted audience because in some cases there is nothing worse than having people who are not interested in the subject matter coming toyour website. You want interested people who will help with increasing your revenue.



Online Banks versus Traditional Banks

By Emayeneme Gbemiye-Etta

There used to be a number of distinct differences between traditional banks (pestle and mortar and online banks but with the expansion of services traditional banks now offer online these differences are shrinking in some areas as far as services are concerned. In fact, these days, people think of online banks as being no different from traditional banks, rather they think of online banks as what is termed online banking, where they are able to do the transactions they did going into a bank, online, but there is a distinct difference between online banking and online banks.

  One major difference between online banks and traditional banks is that online banks offer their customers higher interest rates for their savings account because they do not have the cost of spending money for overhead and other expenses to maintain a building and physical presence.



  1. There is still the feeling by a lot of potential customers that Online banks are not safe because of the inherent view by people tat the banks because they are  online are more vulnerable to hackers tan a regular bank. It has been shown b a number of cases that traditional banks can also be attacked by hackers.


  1. Another difference is that in sending money to by wire transfer from e. an online account to a traditional account because of the way in which online banks send the information to a processing center it takes loner for tem one to be available in the other account tan went is process is done b traditional banks. It takes approximately once the process is initiated a couple of minutes to get to the other account.


  1. Makin deposits to an online bank may take a while because the deposits usual lave to be sent by mail to the processing center which will then take a few days. Though just like a traditional bank deposits made by direct deposit are available immediately.


  1. Except that one cannot go into a physical building, withdrawals for both banks at least by ATM is the same process except for charges may be a little bit higher for the person with the online account if they cannot find a bank with ATMs that does not share for using the ATM.


  1. Another major difference depending on a person’s preference is tat the do not have tat personal relationship wit their bank. The customer cannot walk into their bank and have that one on one personal relationship. On the other hand a lot of people these days still do a lot of their business transactions online and do not o into the bank anyway for tat type of service. This does not mean that provides less customer service.




Verizon Drops New Fee

Verizon Wireless Logo

Verizon Wireless made plenty of people angry with their new plan to charge a $2 fee on payments.

Written by: Damian Roache


Verizon Wireless acted swiftly on Friday to pacify its customers by dropping new plans to start charging users a fee for online payments. The proposed fee was set to debut on January 15, but the clamoring of thousands of Verizon subscribers caused the company to change its tone.


The new fee would have charged users $2 for every time a purchase was made over the phone or online using credit or debit cards.


The outcry against Verizon took many forms, but the most overwhelming response happened online where people began denouncing the company and threatening to drop their services. Many people claimed the fee was unfair because it would force them to pay for everyday services that are currently free, such as paying bills online.


Some were not content to complain and hope that Verizon would take notice, instead actively working to defeat the fee., a site hosting online petitions, had received over 90,000 signatures by Friday on a petition telling Verizon to stop its new fee.


Dan Mead, president of Verizon Wireless, explained Verizon’s decision and made more than one reference to the influence of public opinion.


“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Mead.


Based on Mead’s words, it is clear that Verizon took notice of the negative reaction by its customers. His tone falls just short of apologetic and seems designed to assure customers that, for the moment at least, Verizon will back off from their wallets. Verizon customers have won this battle without any real struggle from Verizon.


This is the latest example of consumers using their collective voice to create a resistance to new business models and pricing changes from large brands. Plans by Netflix to split their services and introduce new prices were widely criticized by customers. Netflix eventually reversed their decision, but the damage had already been done: thousands of Netflix users cancelled their subscriptions.


While it is impossible to state how much Netflix’s pricing fiasco impacted Verizon’s decision-making process, there are obvious similarities between both situations.


Now that two big names like Verizon and Netflix have conceded to the wishes of consumers it seems inevitable that the trend will continue. Losing customers is something that all businesses try to avoid, and consumers are beginning to use the threat of abandonment to garner more respect. The success of Verizon customers is beneficial to consumers of the future, because it shows the potential power that people can gather and use to their advantage.


The next time Verizon wants to add another fee or charge its customers more, they should expect a comparable amount of resistance.

Payola Is Back; Univision Tagged On Pay For Play Schemes


For those of you that think of the 1950s as the golden age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, be ready to rejoice: Payola is back! For all the dirty machinations schemed up by music industry executives, payola was one that is actually criminal (rather than just reprehensible), and the one that got all the ink from news media types. And, like I said, it’s back. Latin media giant Univision has agreed to pay the U.S. government $1 million in fines in a plea deal to resolve its rather serious foray into the old pay for play game.

Payola works like this: music industry executives pay radio stations to give their artists’ songs more play time. The listening public a) gets used to the songs and eventually starts liking them, and/or b) starts assuming that said artists are really popular and force themselves to like them in order to be hip with the times. Either way, sales are increased through deceptive practices. And Univision digs it! It’s not as prevalent as the piracy constantly goes on for profit or not. It’s not as sleazy as the execs who screwed unwitting artists out of all their money. It’s not as violent as those who strong-armed artists and competing labels. But as far as music industry scandals go, at least it has the coolest sounding moniker. Yay, Payola!

Toyota, Tesla Combine Forces For Electric RAV4

All-electric four-wheeling?

In a deal that looks like it will boost the expertise of both companies, Toyota and Tesla Motors have agreed to jointly develop an electric RAV4 and possibly other models.

Tesla has become the leader in, if not all-electric car technology, then electric car technology with serious curb appeal – something that the big auto makers generally lack. Toyota, aside for the debacles of the past year or so, is a longstanding leader of quality products and especially profit-maximizing efficiency across all industries – something the delivery-challenged startup Tesla could use some help with.

Something in me would have liked Tesla to say on its own and become a dominant auto maker of the future, rather than slowly become part of one of the existing behemoths. It’s good to see idealistic, innovative companies angle to take over the world. But it is hard to deny that this move makes sense all around. All mega-corporations need the occasional infusion of idealism and energy and, while corporate bureaucracy often slows and even kills the startups that get swallowed, Tesla can benefit greatly from Toyota’s backing, expertise, customer base and business savvy. We’ll have to wait and see whether the maker of the Roadster gets digested or boosted by its partnership with Toyota.

Hugh Hefner Battles For His Porn Peddling Legacy

Bunny for sale?

We’ve all seen those movies where the man who built a company fights to keep it against a tide of back stabbing board members and stockholders giddy to sell out for a quick buck, legacy be damned. Well, there couldn’t be a sexier vehicle to reprise the theme than what’s unfolding now in real life, because the pioneer of porn peddlers wants his smut back.

Playboy long ago went public and goo-goo-eyed centerfold godfather Hugh Hefner this week offered a 40 percent premium over Friday’s closing price for any shares that aren’t already in his fat wallet. His main competition? Archrival Penthouse. That magazine, whose catch phrase isn’t the bunny-eseque “tastefully done,” said it is going to issue a counteroffer.

The internet age, and all the porn producing competition it has spawned, has not been kind to Hef. Playboy’s stock price, which hit a high of $52+ in 1999, has been trading in the $2 to $5 range in recent years. Porn isn’t even the company’s bread and butter anymore. The legacy of porn is. Merchandising is where Playboy is cashing in now. Bunny shirts and panties, licensing and the like, are the main streams of cash that keep Hef awash in pajamas and surgically enhanced, Viagra-fearing trophy pieces these days.

Hef thinks the brand is well-suited for the digital age, and he’s willing to pay to keep his legacy his.

Sam’s Club To Offer Small Business Loans


Walmart executives really, really like the idea of one-stop shopping. At super Walmart stores, you can get all the things common in large department stores, from clothing to toys, housewares, gardening implements and on and on and on and on. You can also get tires, car repair, money orders and probably tax advice and who knows what all else. The company’s bulk-buying chain, Sam’s Club, follows the strategy with a wide array of products, and they just added one that made the business world go, “Huh?”: Small business loans.

That’s right, you’ll soon be able to get a small business loan at Sam’s Club. Well, I guess some businesses already get their inventory from the place, so why not their funding, too? And with credit markets still so tight, it wouldn’t hurt to have the place you are likely to spend some of the money in on the application process. Sam’s Club is gearing up for a trial run of small business loans up to $25,000 for members. They’re partnering with Superior Financial Group for the effort.

Apparently, Walmart has been looking to get a toe-hold in the finance industry for years. For a lot of struggling small business owners out there, this probably seems like the perfect way to do so, and none too soon.