How Earth Works

Earth 911 -- Acting Locally

Thinking globally means making environmental decisions while keeping the planet at large in mind. Acting locally means putting those decisions to work in your own backyard.

As you try to "go green," you may meet with challenges. For example, those compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are great energy savers, but what happens when you need to throw one away? CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and must be disposed of properly [source: Daley].

Guidelines for disposal and general recycling differ by state, county and town. Earth 911 provides localized information so users can find out how their communities handle recycling. As we mentioned earlier, the Earth 911 home page features a search box where users can enter the name of the item they wish to recycle, along with their zip code or city. Earth 911 then provides a list of local recycling centers, along with guidelines, phone numbers and maps.

Example: A homeowner in New Jersey has a collection of dead batteries she needs to dispose of. Instead of tossing them into her household trash, she visits the Earth 911 Web site and types the word "batteries," along with her zip code into the search box. A page comes up with a list of nearby recycling centers, as well as a RadioShack that recycles batteries only two miles away. Clicking the RadioShack link brings up a map, operating hours and details on exactly what types of batteries are accepted at this commercial location. In this case, the store accepts both chargeable and rechargeable batteries.

Since it's not always possible or convenient to get Internet access, Earth 911 also offers a phone number -- 1-800-CLEANUP. This hotline provides local recycling information through a touch-tone telephone and offers this content in both English and Spanish.

When you search by state, it links you to state- or province- specific environmental resources. For example, the Georgia page on Earth 911 features links such as Keep Georgia Beautiful, Littering and Illegal Dumping in Georgia and Consumer Information. Clicking through these links will bring even more information and resources.

Earth 911 also hosts several subsites. How can these sites help you think globally on your next vacation to the beach? We'll explore the answer to that question on the next page.