Category: blog

Trying to minimize the things in life (a checklist)

  • Sell anything that I don’t use or need at all, and can get decent money for (old TVs, laptops, desktops, adapters, mp3 players) – use eBay, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or a tag sale
  • Donate anything that could be of use to somebody else (clothing, blankets, pillows, unused toiletries, lightly worn/unused shoes) – use Planet Aid bins; they recycle older clean undergarments and accept numerous items
  • Recycle anything that just hangs around, and that can actually be recycled (cardboard boxes, beer growlers/bottles, magazines)
  • Buy what I need (and sometimes what I want) – this is probably the most important thing once I’ve already minimized the amount of things…obviously treat myself to some consumables like desserts, candy/chocolates, beer, flowers for somebody, and other things that a frugal person would not buy
  • Encourage relatives to donate to a charity instead of buying you gifts on special days
  • Scan all needed documents into PDF files, save them locally and on an encrypted drive that you can keep in a separate location, and shred the documents afterwards (ensure that the document does not need to be retained as a hard copy first). This should help get rid of all that paper clutter and push you close to living paper-free….I tend to use my shredded paper to help burn some firewood
  • Uninstall and remove any applications on your phone – if you’re on an old flip phone, you probably don’t need to do this, but this definitely helps to be clutter-free in the digital aspect

These are just some small things that I want to get done over time to be a minimalist. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’ll sacrifice the things that I love like my comic books, DVDs, and books. How do you plan to decrease the amount of things in your life?

Minimalism Documentary – Netflix

I recently watched a Netflix documentary called ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things’ and it definitely struck home in many ways. With a wide array of different characters that the audience can connect with, this documentary dives into how we can essentially peel away (and use) the things in life, and connect more with the people in life. It starts off with the main characters, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who gave up their day jobs in search of a more meaningful life. They had spent much of their adult lives climbing the corporate ladder and getting ahead, and always being manipulators of people in order to ‘sell’ something (whether it be a product or just a simple idea, they would later reveal how empty this made them feel). The story continues and brings in multiple people who have “minimized” the things in life and reflect on their purpose and adventure-seeking. Most of them minimize the amount of personal belongings that they own (some even going to extremes where it seems like they own only a few clothes, minor amounts of toiletries, and a laptop). What they all have in common is their sense of self and finding that the more of these “things” that they gave up, the more grounded they felt.

A lot of the time, I find that I’m very fortunate to have been raised by a great family that could provide lots of “things” for me. After the holidays, it would always be exciting and cool as a little kid to share what you got for Christmas. As I’ve grown older, I’ve truly realized that seeing and being with family is one of the best gifts that you could have. This is not just a sentimental blog post to attempt to pull at your heartstrings, but just a reminder for people to reflect on themselves, their “things”, and the “people” in their life.

One of the characters in the documentary was a Wall Street broker, who eventually reached the top of his game and was going to become a partner with his firm (what he coined as “being minted”). Before going into his meeting to accept this new higher-ranking job offer, he ended up realizing that all he had done to get there and that he really felt empty. The broker ended up leaving work and never going back to Wall Street. He now lives a life full of adventure and more meaningfulness to himself.

When you have some free time (about 75 minutes), check out this documentary on Netflix. I was really glad to have watched it and taken away a lot of different “minimalist” concepts that I could use in my own personal life, whether it meant downsizing and donating my unused things to make staying connected to those I love and care about easier. Also, Happy Holidays from Boston e-Cycle! I know I’m a bit late with that, but hey, better late than never.

Zipcar and going “green”

I’m a frequent Zipcar user and still don’t own my own personal car (I haven’t owned one since my 1996 Dodge Avenger). Zipping around in their fleet of cars has been a lot of fun, and you get to try out a variety of cars, including quite a few hybrid vehicles. Zipcar let it’s Zipsters know that they reduced gas consumption by about 15 million gallons and CO2 emissions by 1.5 billion pounds last year alone. That is definitely nothing short of remarkable!

Some of the environmental and/or sustainable benefits can be seen in this Zipcar infographic. Also, if you’re thinking of signing up for Zipcar (and maybe even getting rid of your car, especially if you live in a city), use my signup referral link for a $25 driving credit.

Polystyrene ban effects

Polystyrene foam has been heavily used in a variety of industries to save costs and offer an easy solution to many problems. Shipping companies use bulk amounts to pad their items while shipping, while many restaurants hand out polystyrene containers for “to-go” orders.

Brookline had passed a ban on the material back in December 2013 with a waiver for some businesses lasting until May 2014. There was an outcry from local businesses that the ban would really add to their business costs, which would most likely pass onto the consumer over time.

As of late, there have been many new products that are both compostable and much cheaper than their counterparts from a few years ago. Many of them are plant-based and only cost a small percentage more than polystyrene solutions (that percentage narrows even more when buying in bulk). Many shipping vendors are turning to cardboard as their solution to not using polystyrene foam. Hopefully over more time, we will see compostable products become even cheaper as the demand continues to increase.

At this time, Boston e-Cycle does re-use some polystyrene foam to ship out items across the nation. We have also recently implemented a push to notify the final recipient to search out alternatives to disposing of the polystyrene foam (a simple message can sometimes go a long way).

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Spring Cleaning with Boston e-Cycle

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to everybody! Hopefully everybody takes the time to rest and BBQ. If you decide to get any spring cleaning done, make sure to keep your electronics in a separate pile. Boston e-Cycle will be glad to pick those up for free. Also, if you feel that your electronics are in great working order and could net you some money, just let us know what you have and we can work out some form of payment (usually with check or PayPal for residential addresses).

On a side note, all electronics will either be used to rebuild existing systems and then donated or sold, or if they are broken electronics, they will be recycled properly here in the US…most likely in the Boston area. Also, please let us know if you have any schools or communities that might be looking for used desktops or laptops, as we have accrued quite a collection over the past 6 months of operations.

Bike Week Celebration in Boston

So most family and friends know that I like to bike to work every so often, and this is mainly due to environmental, health, and timely reasons. Obviously there’s minimal impact to the environment when compared to any gas-powered or electric modes of transit, you get a great workout twice per day, and in Boston (I’m a harsh critic of the green B line), bicycling will more than likely equal a faster commute time to work within city limits. I might also write about bicycling since some folks originally thought I was starting an electronic bicycle company (Pedego), but we all know by now that we are a company dedicated to curbing e-waste throughout the greater Boston region.

So…there will be an awesome event that all cyclists and other people should go to on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Mayor Menino’s Bike Week Celebration from 7am – 9am at City Hall Plaza. There will be free breakfast from Boloco, music, vendors, and I heard there will be free swag…..okay, so I simply read from the BU Parking & Transportation Services blog here. Seriously, everybody should bike on in or stop on by. It’s always a fun time and a great way to start out any morning!

Busy, busy, busy…

So it’s been over a month that I’ve written a post….this is mostly a good thing, mainly since we have been getting more web leads for new clients. The one thing I can’t forget is that most of these clients landed on our page due to our blog and some of our helpful tips on computers and recycling. I’ll be making sure that we have at least 1 post per week going forward. Down the line, we’ll also be looking to start a YouTube channel showing quick and easy tutorials on taking some electronics apart.

I’m definitely excited where the company is heading at this time, and it’s all because of our readers and clients. Thank you everybody!

Winter cleaning for 2016

Now that we’re getting into 2016, it might be time to clean out some of those old systems that you don’t know what to do with. We’re here to help with the pickup!

If you have more than 5 desktops, laptops, or monitors (or any combination of the three), just hop over to the ‘Contact Us’ page and request a free pickup. Don’t have enough items in your house or apartment? Just coordinate with a neighbor or family & friends to get some other equipment, and we’ll be glad to take it off your hands. Your equipment will help us to provide computers to schools and communities that cannot afford them. If we deem the equipment too old or broken, we’ll responsibly recycle it.

So clean out those Christmas trees and all other holiday decorations, along with your computer equipment with the new year!

When to get the upgrade…

Like anything you use on a daily basis, after normal wear-and-tear over years, a product might just no longer work anymore (similar to cars, televisions, and other household items). In the case of computers, I typically recommend to friends and family to run through a few steps to determine if they really do need to say goodbye to an old system:

  • Do you clean up old software and remove unnecessary data?
  • Do you run updates on the system (firmware, operating system, and software updates)?
  • Have you run antivirus or anti-malware scans?
  • Could you spend a little money on extra hardware to speed things up? Have you ever run hardware diagnostics?

Typically, the first 3 questions can be easily taken care of and diagnose if there are issues on the software side. Sometimes I recommend a fresh operating system install (after backing up your data and noting what software you use) just to get things running nicely again. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s a good thing that hardware providers tend to have hardware diagnostic software that you can run (Ex: Dell Diagnostics, HP PC Hardware Diagnostics, Apple Diagnostics, etc). Usually you download the software onto a bootable USB drive and boot into the diagnostics software itself. With newer systems, they tend to ship with a factory diagnostics partition already installed on the drive, which you can boot into as well.

Usually, I recommend new hard drives or addition of RAM for most slow systems after double-checking if hardware diagnostics found anything wrong with the system (it will specify whether your system has faulty RAM, CPU, video card, or numerous other pieces of hardware). In the case that the system has good hardware and recently cleaned up software, yet it still seems bogged down, it might just be that you do need a new system at this time.