Discarded Electronics Are Literal Gold Mines

If you have seen any dystopian film or have read any piece at all of dystopian literature, you would know that a landscape made of metal offers intense horrors that bank on some of the deep-seated fears of today’s society.

Realistically speaking, we have been inventing ways to address the problem of metal such as recycling laptop batteries into a source of alternative energy or something as strangely innovative as making stylish backpacks out of car parts, but there is a need to push further. A trio of researchers recently took a shot at that and conducted a study which tries to answer how profitable it is to recover metals from old electronics.

In 2016 alone, the world discarded 44.7 million metric tons of unusable or simply unwanted electronics, according to the United Nations’ 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor report. That’s 4,500 Eiffel Towers-worth of phones, laptops, microwaves, and TVs. Only 20 percent of this e-waste was properly recycled that year. The rest was likely either incinerated, pumping pollution into the atmosphere, or added to a landfill somewhere, with its toxins now leaking into our soil and water supply.

It turns out, urban mining costs much less than traditional mining. The researchers from Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Sydney’s Macquarie University published their results in a scientific journal after collecting data from recycling companies in China. While the cost of recycling might vary from country to country, China’s status as the world’s biggest producer of e-waste makes light of the truth that the practice of urban mining could have a big impact on both economic and environmental matters.

[W]e already knew electronics contain precious metals in addition to all that glass and plastic. While a single smartphone might not contain all that much, consumers buy about 1.7 billion of the devices each year. In just one million of those, you’ll find roughly 75 pounds of gold, 35,000 pounds of copper, and 772 pounds of silver.

Necessary reminder though: this is no reason at all to justify our technological consumption practices. If anything, it should make us ask more conscientiously, what do I do with my smartphone once I find a new replacement that has great upgrades and loads informative online articles (like this!) much faster?

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Apple Now Powered by Clean Energy

Corporate giants like McDonalds (along with other fast food chains) and Google (along with other tech companies) have been participating in the global venture towards turning green. Recently, another giant techie has joined the cause: Apple has announced that its operations are now completely powered by renewable energy. The company claims that all of its shops, offices, and data centers across 43 different countries are part of the program.

“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

In a similar vein, Apple has also built an Apple Park campus completely powered by solar energy, as well as other wind and solar projects in China to help counteract its manufacturing wastes. However, Apple products still come from suppliers that the Apple company does not have complete control over. In response to this, the giant has been active in encouraging its suppliers to improve their standards, inclusive of labor conditions and environmental work.

It has encouraged suppliers to follow its lead in using renewable energy, it said, and now 23 of them are committed to working on green power.

If corporate competition between biggies in various industries like food and tech keep happening on the green stage, then one victor would always emerge for sure: our environment. Let’s just hope the battle continues.

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Your Career Can Benefit Others Too

There are an endless number of ways to help others. You can run a restaurant for the poor or raise money for children with disabilities. When it comes to helping others, it doesn’t matter who you are — middle class or part of the 1%. You can be a total busybody and still give back by using your career as a means of benefitting others. Here’s how you can do it.

Especially for university students, fearing that your future occupation may be a selfish one is completely natural. After all, being a creative writer or interior designer may seem, in a way, limited. This is far from true, as many jobs can be platforms for sharing knowledge and information with others. If you are a chef, you can use your expertise to educate other aspiring chefs, whether this means charging for a workshop or doing it for free.

Offering your services pro bono is another awesome way to do good. It may not profit you financially, but the simple joy of giving others a means to learn is almost always enough. Reach out to charitable institutions and figure out where you can be an asset. Who knows? You may be part of the success story of an aspiring engineer.

If you’re unsure of how your job can help others directly, use it to advocate for something. If you’re a graphic designer promoting mental health, make an infographic. If you’re a farmer promoting animal welfare, grow organic, vegan food. Somehow, things always fall into place, even when partnerships seem odd. Especially today, there are so many different ways to do one thing. Now is the time to be innovative and resourceful.

If you are fairly established in the working world, a sensible option would be to earn to give. Figure out how much of your salary you can set aside for a cause you are truly passionate about. Decide whether you are financially stable enough to commit to a charity for a certain amount of time. Do research to ensure that your money is being distributed fairly and doing exactly what it is meant to. Of course, sticking to a group will require some involvement. Engage with your charity every now and then via visits or events.

If you feel your vocation should be directly involved with a cause, don’t hesitate to go for it. This way, you can make helping others your career. Still, decide where you think you can be most useful and what problems, to you, are most urgent. If you are great with computers, you can opt to do research regarding statistics or patterns that may be of use to your advocacy. Maybe you’re a fearless public speaker who would do best promoting your cause. If you are brimming with passion, chances are, you’ll find your place within whatever field of work you choose.

Picking out the perfect job may be a case of what earns the most or what line of work your family is in. But keep in mind that it is also about your personal desires and strengths, as well as its potential to impact others.

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Cosmetic Brand Lush Is Funding Permaculture Farms

Cosmetic brand Lush, known for its scrumptious bath bombs, is on a roll with its eco-initiatives. Since turning trash into packaging, it is also now funding permaculture farms at £1 million a year.

“For us, the work we focus on is often regenerative, as opposed to sustainable – we want to give back more than we take,”

The said permaculture farms provide the beauty brand with organic ingredients such as aloe and shea butter. While Lush can count on a stable supply of materials, it is also helping communities thrive.

“We started the fund in 2010, with the idea that there can be a different, more supportive way of doing business,” [says creative buyer Gabbi Loedolff.]

The initiative, called the SLush Fund, has reached out to groups in Ghana and Peru. It is creating jobs and providing new technologies while being mindful of the environment. On that note, I think a relaxing soak in the tub would be doing myself and Lush some good.

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Bee Saving Paper — You Guessed It! — Saves Bees Globally

Unable to resist our sweet stripey friends — and of course, the danger to our food resource brought about by the dwindling of their populations — different sectors have already been participating in bee saving initiatives. There is the UK’s ban on harmful pesticides. There is the transformation of empty lots into bee farms by a group of Detroit locals. Recently, there is free ice cream from food company Häagen-Dazs to promote the bee saving advocacy.

The latest to join the hive is a Polish startup company that created a biodegradable paper from energy-rich glucose that may feed bees. Not only is it definitely usable for us humans because the material isn’t sticky at all, Bee Saving Paper is very nutritious and delicious for our pollinator friends.

The material is made by dissolving a special kind of sugar into water, making a paste that beekeepers use to nourish their hives during the winter. According to the paper startup’s website, only 0.5 kilograms of the substance is enough to feed several thousand bees.

The paper is also made with honey plant seeds, which means that once the bee eats up all the glucose, the paper’s biodegradation will grow another “rest stop” for bees in its place.

Now you might ask: why would any creature want to eat paper? What could make it seem sumptuous? Well, the designers have also come up with a solution to make the Bee Saving Paper look yummy.

Since bees see fields of flowers as circles of colored light on the ultraviolet spectrum, the engineers used water-based UV paint to cover the paper with colored circles that are only visible — and attractive — to bees.

Since last year, the startup has already successfully executed its first field test. They helped out a Polish beekeeper whose bee farm populations were rapidly decreasing. Now, the company aims to promote their bee saving products to large brands and businesses that need paper. Which could be every business out there, really.

[A]ny business or manufacturing company using paper can start making their products out of materials that are environmentally friendly and nourishing to pollinators — from paper bags to parking tickets and picnic plates.

I can’t imagine how exciting it would be to do everyday chores. Shop with a paper bag, read food labels printed on paper, drink from a paper cup, write love letters on paper… do pretty much everything as a bee saving hero!

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Millennials are Intensely Changing the Food Industry — Here’s How

 

As the old saying goes, change is the only constant thing in the world. And with a politically engaged and environmentally concerned generation, that should ring very true. Say what you will about millennials — I’m sure opinions vary about the traits that characterize the generation — but they sure bring forth some important changes. Most succinctly, to the food industry.

Millennials are dramatically disrupting the way food is produced, packaged, marketed and served. As a highly vocal group, millennials have given food producers little option but to listen to their demands, resulting in changes to not only food choices, but farming techniques and restaurant services as well.

Though it seems obvious and simple that individual food choices are changing across generations, surely there are bound to be implications on the entire food industry. One of the significant changes on the food landscape is how the word healthy is understood.

While older generations may have contented themselves with vague “low-fat” or “healthy” labels, millennials have higher expectations, especially when it comes to GMOs.

Not only are they exploring healthy Mediterranean diets or looking for meat alternatives, people now have also been advocating for healthier food production techniques. A good nutritional breakdown isn’t enough anymore, this generation wants their food sources organic.

And because of this, healthy has also started to mean local.

[This] has led to a preference for local food brands over national ones, both at the level of production and consumption. Whether buying food at the grocery store or eating out, millennials seek out locally sourced food . . . Some millennials have taken this trend a step further and started to grow their own food in urban and rooftop farms.

True enough, these days, interesting options exist for people who want to try their own hand at producing their own food. Home gardening systems such as OGarden and TerraFarms are now available in the market. So, in addition to being healthy and locally sourced, alternative food sources that millennials encourage are also sustainable.

Another important change in the food industry is the increase popularity of eating out in restaurants.

Technology also plays a major role in making restaurants more popular with younger generations. With apps like the Humane Eating project that combine millennials’ love of technology with sustainable eating, it’s no wonder that more people are exploring new places to eat.

So, to recap, some preferences that millennials have shown the food industry are these: healthy, locally sourced, and sustainably grown. And with how technology and social media work nowadays, it’s no wonder that these choices became demands that the food industry have had to respond to. As a result, more and more huge companies such as Dunkin Donuts’, McDonald’s, and other food giants have been committing to efforts toward sustainability.

It’s only a matter of time before we see how these changes in the food industry will eventually affect other sectors like public health and even the global economy. But it’s amazing to see how individual food choices have led up to this moment. So millennials, don’t be afraid to be bold. Even with your choice of salad for brunch tomorrow.

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Business Networking: BeepBeep Nation and Intangible Profit

I’ve been in the game for a while now. In the world of business, it’s not enough to be efficient, effective, and generally adept at your tasks. What’s more important than the mechanical side of whatever industry is securing good relationships and establishing a broad network of contacts. Dealing with administrative and operational matters should not overshadow putting yourself and your company out there and meeting great people.

There are some traditional means of business networking. Setting up events to gather potential clients and affiliates is always on the table — there is always an opportune time for a semi-casual party, a formal program to an organization you want to sponsor, an official launch of a new product, or others. Attending trade shows and business conferences is also very conducive to building a network; whether as an attendee or a speaker, you’ll get the chance to meet people and stimulate their interests.

In these areas, making a good impression is of utmost priority. Hard selling one’s business may not always be the most effective approach. Sometimes, keeping the conversation light, fun, but engaging may be even more beneficial. This is your one shot at establishing a connection, so actually getting to know a few great prospects is better than having a standard robotic speech for everyone. Aggressive methods are also not recommended as you do not want to scare away your prospects.

Talking about your passions and listening to them talk about their passions is a good step to ensuring a followup sometime soon. Remembering the humanity of the people that you’re talking to while talking to them leads to more fulfilling, more secure relationships in the future. This is true for both our professional and personal lives.

Of course, in the digital age, there are updated ways of achieving the same goal. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online communities are a good way to promote your business and establish a more secure network of potential clients and affiliates. Nowadays, it’s actually unusual for any business not to have its own website or blog to express its philosophy, share its take on relevant industry issues, provide information requisite to the business, and enable interactions with its current audience and eventual prospects.

Being in business also means committing to things that do not instantly scream profit! at your face. It may feel counterintuitive at times to do things for free, especially in a world where it’s easier to look only at price tags and consider nothing else. But profit isn’t always immediately tangible in business networking.

Sometimes, a long-lasting excellent reputation is worth way more than an instant sell. Offering your help and expertise to people who seem to have issues that you can address might be mutually favorable. Again, while you don’t want to be aggressive, taking the initiative is a good habit. Not only are there possibilities of people eagerly returning favors some other time, helping out may eventually lead to your reputation as a generous person.

To this end, it’s also good to look for opportunities to volunteer your time. Business networking doesn’t require your focus to solely be on your own business; venturing into other fields can actually give you an even broader network. Volunteering in the community gets you in touch with other groups of people who may not seem relevant at first, but could prove helpful in the future.

Inculcating this in yourself will make you appreciate the value of everyone you meet and inspire you to get to know even more people in a deeper way.

One such app that aims to facilitate these connections and encourage people to have fulfilling face-to-face social interactions is BeepBeep Nation. By providing a platform for requestors to get any kind of help they need and for helpers to offer their capacity to help out, what BeepBeep Nation wants is to create a helping economy that will be beneficial for all of its users.

It may seem a little strange to lend a hand without getting anything in return, but as I’ve illustrated regarding business networking, what it provides you is more long-term yield. Simply giving someone a ride or a place to stay for the night is already a huge investment. BeepBeep Nation offers a plethora of these opportunities: aside from a ride or a place to stay, you can assist in medical emergencies and vehicle breakdowns, you may merely give accurate information regarding the restaurant your requestor wants to check out, and other forms of help.

You never know, the person you gave a recommendation for a quaint local café might just be your next great business partner.

Go to the BeepBeep Nation website to find out how to get started. Fuelled by the EMINENT token, BeepBeep Nation is set to launch soon worldwide, starting in selected cities. The EMINENT token pre-sale is currently live, with great bonuses available. Check it out now, and don’t hesitate to participate in a world of change.

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Free Ice Cream to Help Save Honey Bees

Bee populations are known to be on a steep decline. And it’s worrisome because the many benefits given to us by the cutesy bugs (please click at your own risk, lest you faint of cuteness) are no secret to our generation, to environmental activists and non-activists alike. Some people already act of their own volition, like communities turning empty lots into bee homes and repairing beekeeping equipment. The UK has even banned pesticides that are harmful to bees.

Another stint in the bee-saving movement comes from ice cream company Häagen-Dazs, as they give away free ice cream cones to promote the advocacy.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees campaign . . . Since starting 10 years ago, Häagen-Dazs has donated over $1 million to bee research and planted over 11,000 plants. If you want to help the bees too, the ice cream company asks that you donate to the Xerces Society—they have a goal of planting 1 million acres of habitat for bees.

A third of Häagen-Dazs products apparently depend on the honey bees, and so does a third of our entire food intake, which makes their decreasing population truly alarming.

The annual Free Cone Day serves as a recognition of whom Adam Hanson, President and General Manager of the food company, calls “pollinators that make our ice cream possible.” Of course, the event doesn’t stop at recognition of the hard-working bees. It is, more than anything, a call for help.

“With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the brand’s honey bee support, we wanted to build on that information and encourage everyone to band together for this important cause.”

Many people want to save the honey bees, not just for their general cuteness, but for their steadfast role in our food supply. And come on, let’s just be honest here. Who wouldn’t want to help in the name of free ice cream?

 

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Microsoft Commits $25M to AI for People with Disabilities

I’m sure I’m not the only one inspired to hear news about someone overcoming obstacles in his or her life and going on to accomplish amazing feats. Time and time again, people have proven that their disabilities cannot take away the drive for awesome deeds, such as a model and a beauty queen with Down’s Syndrome. Blind children achieved scout status, while a blind woman is representing her country at an international triathlon. And in a nearly unbelievable effort, a woman suffering locked-in syndrome wrote a book using only her eye movement.

Microsoft is probably super inspired as well, because the company has recently shown willingness and commitment to help people with disabilities discover their potential. To be specific, it has shown willingness in the amount of 25 million dollars.

The tech company announced their “AI For Accessibility” initiative during their annual developer conference in Seattle on [Monday, May 14].

“By innovating for people with disabilities, we are innovating for us all,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith about the program. “By ensuring that technology fulfills its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we can empower everyone — not just individuals with disabilities — to achieve more.”

The amount will be divided in investments to products involving artificial intelligence that Microsoft and their partner companies will develop. Part of it will also go to grants for startup innovators and designers as well as universities, if they have projects that align to Microsoft’s goals, which is to make life better for people with disabilities. After the next five years in which the initiative will come to fruition, I wonder what inspiring stories we’ll be hearing about then.

The initiative takes special interest in specifically harnessing AI technology to help the disabled, similarly to how it is utilized in real-time text-to-speech programs and predictive-text capabilities.

“AI can be a game changer for people with disabilities,” said Smith. “By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe technology can have a broad impact on this important community.”

Once again, the industry sends a statement that there’s more to technology than profit. And Microsoft has a 25-million-dollar commitment to show for it.

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42 Food Giants Pledge to Ax Plastic

2018 gave us a lot of eco-friendly changes in the food industry: Pepsi debuted reusable bottles for flavored beverages, Dunkin Donuts ditched foam cups from their packaging, even McDonald’s followed suit with foam cups and plastic straws. I hate to say that this environmentalist trend among food giants has reached its peak with the good news I bring now, but it does feel like a culmination of sorts.

A total of 42 food companies in the UK — composed of retailers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and brands — have pledged to ax single-use plastics by 2025.

Together, the signatories represent roughly 80% of the plastics sold in UK supermarkets. The initiative . . . has set a series of goals to cut wasteful packaging over the course of the next seven years. For starters, the initiative will ensure that 100% of plastic packaging must either be recyclable, compostable, or reusable in order to make it onto supermarket shelves. Some supermarkets have gone even further and declared that plastic packaging will no longer be used on fruits and vegetables.

The signatories include UK brands like Asda, Nestle, Lidl, Coca-Cola, Aldi, PepsiCo, Unilever, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury, and many others. Besides ensuring the elimination of single-use plastics, the pledge also covers recycling. The current recycling rate is 30%, and the participating food giants seek to bump it up to 70%.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who is backing the pact, said in a statement: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realized if government, businesses, and the public work together.”

In addition to bringing super chic eco-bags to the supermarket, well, I guess I just have to remember this pledge to feel less guilty when buying those apples.

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