Office Depot Provides Technology Recycling Service

GreenBiz News brings good news for those of us with old cells phones, PCs, printers, and batteries stashed away. Office Depot will recycle them — for a small fee.

Link: GreenBiz News | Office Depot Extends Tech Recycling Service Continent-Wide

DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Oct. 17, 2007 — Office Depot yesterday launched a new, expanded version of its Tech Recycling Service, which covers the company’s 1,100-plus stores in North America, and is designed to make it easy for customers to keep their potentially toxic gadgets from ending up in landfills.

Office Depot is one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Plug-In To eCycling partners. Through this partnership, electronics manufacturers and retailers offer consumers more opportunities to reuse and recycle their used electronics.

This is only the latest in Office Depot’s recycling program. For three months in 2004, the company joined up with Hewlett-Packard and the EPA to launch one of the largest-ever free recycling drives, which resulted in over 10.5 million pounds of recycled electronics. Office Depot also continues to maintain a free cell phone and rechargeable battery recycling program, which has diverted approximately four tons of small electronics from landfills.

Information about the Tech Recycling Service, including a list of what materials can be recycled, is available at OfficeDepot.com/techrecycling.

Trip to Floyd – Day 2

This post describes our second day visiting Floyd, Va, on Oct 5, 2007. Here’s the Day 1 post.

On Friday we took our time getting up and out, enjoying the sounds of rural Virginia at the Miracle Farm B&B: cows mooing in the distance, crows and hawks playing their war games, and the mountain stream behind the farmhouse. We ate the delicious breakfast delivered by Ed and Karen and went out to explore Floyd.

Since our cell phones were not getting a signal around Floyd, we went to a local retailer to buy a tracfone to check our voice mail and to make local calls. When we purchased it, I noticed a warning that only two phones per person can be purchased. I asked the store manager about regulation — she said that they enforced it strictly. Apparently they often get out-of-state cars with several passengers who buy as many phones as they can as often as they can. What is going on…?

After we purchased a phone and checked our voice mail, we went to the public library to use the computers to check email.  Then I dropped Ann at The Harvest Moon so she could determine if we can get the natural and organic foods that we like in Floyd. (Ann was impressed.) I went to Citizens, the telecommunications company just up the road, to discuss rural broadband access. I had an encouraging discussion with Shelia at Citizens that gave me confidence that fast Internet and cable TV are available in much of Floyd County.

A few blocks west of the public library, Epperly Mill Rd turns south off of West Main St. Seeing that street sign triggered a memory — I visited Floyd many years ago with childhood friend John David Epperly and his father. I remember that Mr. Epperly grew up in Floyd — I’ve recently learned that Epperly Mill Rd. was named after Mr. Epperly’s grandfather, who owned the Mill.

In the afternoon we drove east on Franklin Pike to look at the countryside. Floyd’s terrain is dominated by rolling hills with mountains in the distance. The entire county is situated on a high plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, at an average elevation of about 2,500 feet. The landscape is almost an even mix of pasture land and forest, with many beautiful evergreens that look like Christmas trees. Occasionally we saw antique car museums (junk yards), which do not improve the aesthetics or the value of the property.

A Floyd County morning by Doug Thompson

We stopped at the Floyd Dry Goods Store. Amy Gravely, who had lived in my home town of Martinsville for several years, runs the store, which has quite a unique mix of interesting goods. We enjoyed the store and the conversation.

We returned to the Floyd Country Store for a late lunch. I saw Doug Thompson, local blogger and photo-journalist (his photo above), sitting on a bench in front of the store. I introduced myself to Doug and starting asking questions. Doug grew up in Floyd and returned to Floyd from Washington, DC, after spending many years traveling the world photographing wars and other current events. He writes the Blue Ridge Muse blog and knows almost everyone in Floyd County. Doug is quite a story teller — he entertained Ann and me for quite a while.

We went to Over the Moon Gallery & Cafe restaurant for dinner. It’s located above the Harvest Moon store. We enjoyed the acoustic music performed by a local musician. Almost every eating establishment in the town of Floyd features good music, often from live performers.

The next stop was the Friday night jamboree at the Floyd Country Store. This is the event of the week that brings everyone together for socializing and music. Unlike most music venues, no alcohol is served — we saw Woody Crenshaw, owner, scooping ice cream for kids. Families bring children to this event — we saw young children having a great time dancing. We watched Doug Thompson taking photos — I enjoyed watching a pro spot an interesting scene and capture it immediately. The blue grass jamboree cost $3 at the door. It draws a crowd — there were about 500 people in and near the Country Store. After the second band left the stage, a ticket was drawn from the fish bowl for the raffle and I won! Is that a sign?

On the way back to the car, we saw Doug Thompson in the Cafe del Sol having a coffee and sat down with him. He introduced us to Sally, the owner, who is also a vocalist in a local band. Cafe del Sol and The Floyd Country Store both provide wi-fi for customers.

It was a memorable day.

Trip to Floyd – Day 1
Trip to Floyd – Day 3
Trip to Floyd – Day 4

Applications of Solar Energy

I’m a strong advocate of the benefits of solar energy — I’m waiting for the breakthroughs (like the microprocessor/PC in computing) that will revolutionize energy production. Here’s a summary of the current state of solar energy.

Link: A Solar Technology for Every Application | Alternative Energy Stocks

Tom Konrad at Alternative Energy Stocks writes:

To understand the future of any technology, you first need to understand its applications, which will lead to an understanding of the characteristics necessary to meet them. Broadly, solar power is used to produce heat for climate control and process heat, and for electricity, both on the grid and off.

Application Table

Application Category Dominant/Best Technology Other Technologies
Daylighting Lighting Windows, Skylights Light Shelves, Active systems
Space Heating Thermal Passive Solar Design Active solar thermal, especially if also used for other applications such as water heating.
Process heat/ Water heating Thermal Active Solar Thermal flat plate or evacuated tube
Distributed generation Electric Photovoltaic technologies
Off Grid Electric Non-tracking PV with battery backup
Central Power Generation Electric Concentrating Solar Power Concentrating PV, Flat plate PV
Dispatchable Power Electric CSP with thermal storage Others w/ battery backup
Intermediate Generation Electric All technologies, should be tracking or west-facing to make production align most closely to peak load.
Base load Generation Electric CSP with thermal storage Others w/ Battery backup

Electric Generation Technology Table

Technology Best uses Strengths Weaknesses
Photovoltaic
    Flat Plate Distributed, off grid Simplicity, Scalability Cost
       Crystalline Distributed Low maintenance, high durability Cost
       Thin Film Distributed, off grid Low cost; scalability Low efficiency
    Concentrating PV Sunny areas, Central installations Low cost Higher maintenance
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
     Solar Trough, CLFR, Solar tower Central Generation; peaking and intermediate power; base load capable. Thermal Storage, Cost Large Scale
     Dish Stirling Sunny areas, Central installations Low cost; can be hybridized with natural gas; Scalability Higher maintenance

DISCLAIMER: The information and trades provided here are for informational purposes only

Trip to Floyd – Day 1

We arrived in Floyd at mid-afternoon on Thursday, Oct 3. I was surprised at how small the town of Floyd is, in contrast to its reputation. It felt like we had time traveled back to Mayberry. We were uncomfortably hungry, so we headed for the Floyd Country Store. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 6:30am at our home north of Atlanta. For lunch, I ordered a strawberry milkshake, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes, and a peanut butter cookie (here’s the menu). The food would have been delicious if I hadn’t been so hungry, and it was especially good given that it had been eight very long hours since we had breakfast.

I was talking with Jen at the front cash register when I spotted someone I felt like I knew but had never met. David St. Lawrence, author of the Making Ripples blog and the Danger Quicksand book, had walked into the Floyd Country Store. I recognized him from his photo on his blog. After I introduced myself, he immediately invited Ann and I to sit down and talk. He spent almost two hours answering questions and describing the Floyd area, with the underlying theme that Floyd is a great place to live (if you are not dependent on the local economy for employment). I had started reading David’s blog several years ago on the recommendation of Fred First, who writes the Fragments from Floyd blog. (I had discovered Fred’s blog in my ongoing search for great photographs of rural Virginia.) David had been living near Charlottesville at the time, but he and his wife Gretchen had moved to Floyd after falling in love with the area. He is one of many unofficial PR people for Floyd, and he generously took time from his busy schedule to talk with us.

David introduced us to Woody Crenshaw, owner (with his wife Jackie) of the Floyd Country Store and one of the business leaders who has been instrumental in the renovation of downtown Floyd. In addition to the home-grown residents, Floyd’s population includes artists, musicians, and techies who have relocated to the area. There are several art galleries displaying the work of local artists. Excellent musicians emerge from the hills on Friday and Saturday to entertain and celebrate the music they love. Several local establishments have wi-fi so patrons can stay connected to the Internet. The local telecommunications company, Citizens, provides high-speed Internet as well as phone and cable TV service for the surrounding area — a great infrastructure for information workers.

We soon discovered an inconvenience: our cell phones (Cingular/AT&T) could not get a connection. We couldn’t check our voice mail or make local calls. So much for the new AT&T.

Renovated Farm House at Miracle Farm

We were staying at the Miracle Farm B&B about 8 miles west of Floyd. We met Karen Osborne, who relocated from the Bay Area in California, when we checked into the renovated farmhouse where we were staying. The farmhouse is not for visitors who want luxury, but how many 5 star hotels feature the sweet music of a mountain stream as you fall asleep? Karen and her husband Ed prepare four-course organic breakfasts that would be a great start for a strenuous day of mountain biking or kayaking.

We had dinner at the Oddfellas Cantina — good food and good music. With full bellies and a long day behind us, we headed to the farmhouse for some rest and relaxation.

To wake up in a suburb of Atlanta and fall asleep in a rustic farmhouse near Floyd, VA, is a great day.

Trip to Floyd – Day 2
Trip to Floyd – Day 3
Trip to Floyd – Day 4