Monday, December 20, 2010

At Your Service

With less than a week until Christmas, I'm guessing some of you have visions of flat screen TV's, iPads, and Kindles dancing in your head. But have you thought about what you're going to do with your old electronics?

While reading a post on the Manhattan User's Guide ( a few months ago, I discovered a service that I think we could all use... The 4th Bin (

The 4th Bin is the only NYC company that has door-to-door pick up of e-waste. For a small fee, the company will pick up unwanted or unusable electronics and recycle them responsibly. This was music to my ears since it really pains me to see electronics put out for the trash with no consideration for their environmental impact.

Thankfully, The 4th Bin founders, Michael Deutsch and John Kirsch are affecting change one borough at a time. While it is illegal in NYC to mix electronic waste with normal trash, the City has yet to find an ethical disposal method. Seeing an opportunity, Michael and John created a model that makes it easy for residents and businesses to get rid of e-waste. According to The 4th Bin website, here is how the process works after it is picked up: "Your e-waste is then driven to our Local Sorting Facility, items are separated and classified as either 'reusable' or 'recyclable.' Items classified as 'reusable' are refurbished and sold at discount prices on eBay, Craigslist, or through Terracycle. 'Recyclable' items are sent to our recycling partners for processing. The 4th Bin only uses e-steward certified recyclers for our electronic waste! During the processing phase, items are shredded, refined, and finally resold on the open market. These materials are used to create new products. No items that we handle are exported!"

I didn't relish the idea of hauling a 20" analogue TV to Best Buy nor did I know what to do with a broken carbon monoxide alarm or paper shredder, so I decided to give The 4th Bin a try. The entire experience couldn't have been easier. I clicked on the website: and input my info for a price quote. I immediately got a call from a 4th Bin employee to discuss pick up dates and prices. The price was a steal -- $30 to pick up my three items; it would have cost me that much in taxi fare to recycle at Best Buy plus no wear and tear on my body going up and down a flight of stairs. I was hooked and scheduled an appointment. Pick-up day arrived and so did John and Michael on time! In a matter of minutes, my items were whisked from my apartment out to the truck and I reclaimed some floor space - a premium in a studio apartment.

Customer service is definitely a company forte. At one point my appointment had to be rescheduled and Michael called me directly four days in advance, to ask if it was okay to make another date. I was so impressed with my experience that I wanted to find out more about this company to see if there was any way we could collaborate. After a great meeting, I decided to spread the word about The 4th Bin amongst my client base. Michael and John very kindly offered to list me as one of their recommended vendors for their America Recycles ( initiative last month.

Currently, The 4th Bin services the five NYC boroughs, but there is talk of expansion to the tri-state area. I can't wait until this is a national movement and our curbs are no longer littered with unwanted electronics.

Why not start the New Year with a clean slate and conscience? How can you NOT AFFORD to do this????

2010 Rosemary Flannery. All Rights Reserved.

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