With the EcoATM, Your Old Phone No Longer Feels Worthless

Coming to a mall near you: this kiosk makes recycling electronics as easy as cashing a check.

For a few years now, we've been able to walk up to a vending machine, swipe our credit cards, and watch an iPod pop out of the slot. Why shouldn't there be a kiosk that reverses this relationship, and buys used electronics from us? Meet the EcoATM, a machine equipped with the cameras and artificial intelligence to quickly determine what kind of used cell phone you've got, and offer an estimate on how much it's worth.

Here's how it works: Just drop your phone in a slot, follow some instructions on a touch screen, and offer up some personal information to protect against fraud and theft. The machine will reward you with cash on the spot—but first, it asks if you want to donate it to a charity. Your old cell phone is then either resold on the global market for used devices, or recycled at an eco-friendly smelting facility.

The EcoATM is a venture of the same kiosk masters who brought us the CoinStar (a machine that turns nickels and dimes into cash) and RedBox (the video rental machine that sounded the death knell for Blockbuster after Netflix went for the jugular). But this machine has the potential to transform more than just your piggy bank or your Saturday night. In 2000 alone, more than 4.6 million tons of e-waste made its way into U.S. landfills. And 100 million cellphones are ditched each year, either in landfills or dusty desk drawers. E-waste leaches toxins like mercury, lead, and arsenic into the ground and atmosphere. Now that the EcoATM is popping up in shopping areas across the West Coast—and has plans to expand elsewhere—recycling this stuff will soon be as easy as cashing a check.

"There's usually a winner and loser in business, but in this company everyone's a winner," says Tom Tullie, the company's CEO. "The environments' a winner, the customer's a winner, our buyers are winners."


via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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