Recycling Giftcards

As part of finding Pura Vida in my life I’ve been trying to simplify my life – cleaning out my car, my wallet, my closet and getting rid of unnecessary clutter and junk. When I was cleaning out my wallet though, I found a stack of old gift cards and loyalty cards and couldn’t convince myself it was a good idea to throw away all these cards. Surely somehow I could recycle them all, right?

I started a Google search in an attempt to figure out what to do with this stack of gift cards and found quite a few websites that recycle old gift cards!! Hallelujah, I don’t have to throw all of these cards away that will ultimately sit in a landfill for centuries. These cards can be recycled into other cards and other merchandise. Here’s a what I found:

Earthworks – I think this will be the company that I send my used gift cards to because this company seems legit and is recommended by almost every recycling or environmental website I could find! What I like about there process is that the cards are shredded for security and then all melted together to form new PVC sheets and eventually new gift cards and loyalty cards for people. The one immediate problem I have with this website is that it’s “under construction” and I cannot find a consistent address to send the gift cards. In looking long term, I’m sure while they fix their website I can find a dozen or so more cards to recycle and send them all at once.

Gift Card Recycler – This website seems a bit outdated and to be honest I couldn’t find info if they were still in business but it’s worth a shot because this company gives you points for sending in old gift cards. The points can then be redeemed for other stuff (note: I don’t know what that other stuff is because I think you have to create an account with the website to get full details). I do like the external motivation of encouraging people to recycle.

In addition, I also found a few websites that you can donate the last few cents or dollars of a gift card to and they will use that money for charitable purposes. I thought this was a pretty cool idea because at work I hear guests say to me that I can throw away a card because it only has 3 cents left on it. Now people can put that 3 cents to good use. That money may not make a huge difference on a tab of $20 but if everyone donated 3 cents of a left over gift card to a charity, well I feel like that would make a substantial impact on charities over time.

In this process it did take considerable time to figure out if any of the cards had any balances on them and putting all the loyalty cards onto an app on my iPhone. Sometimes I had to call customer service because the card was too old or needed to have my personal information verified, which again took up some time. However, I did discover I have almost $500 worth of gift cards just sitting in my wallet that weren’t being used. I would say that’s pretty successful! I also found a number of cards that were way over 5 years old and not only did they not have any value on the gift cards but some of the stores and restaurants weren’t even open anymore. Yikes!

The last downside I see to recycling cards is that you need to take the time and effort to collect all these cards and then send them off to be recycled. They cannot just be placed in the normal plastic recycling bin due to the chemicals on the card and the magnetic strip. I can see where some people would think this is unnecessary and just throw the cards away, again this is where external motivation can be powerful. I can see where going through the effort to recycle the cards can be tedious, however, in looking at my stack of cards there was no way I could throw 30+ gift cards and loyalty cards away so I started a recycling bin of old cards in my house. Not only can my family contribute but I’ll start taking old gift cards from work and add them to my pile to make an even bigger impact!

Yoga on Coco Beach

Since I’ve been back in the States I can’t stop thinking about opening up a yoga studio on Coco Beach in Costa Rica. This goes right in line with the Pura Vida concept I’ve been working on. Granted there are some technicalities that need to be worked out, but the thought alone calms me.

Doing yoga on the beach, at 6am with the sun rising and the sounds of nature in the background; well could anything be more relaxing?! I don’t think so. I feel like tourists and locals alike would be on board with this business, because who couldn’t use a little more relaxation in their life? I feel like most people, myself included, get so bogged down in the hustle and bustle of life that we all forget to stop and smell the roses or listen to bird. In reflecting on my life, the most at ease I’ve ever been was when I was able to disconnect and spend some time in nature. Sounds cheesy but until you’ve done this it’s hard to understand.

Granted I’m not certified in yoga, nor do I have any business background, but it’s still a dream that can be attained. Many people have opened businesses with no experience and only passion, sometimes that’s more than enough. There’s a local yoga studio that does a 10 week, 200 hour certification program that costs as much as one graduate class. The cost might seem pretty pricey, but at the end of the program I would be a certified yoga instructor and could run my own classes at the studio that taught me. I like this practical application of knowledge and skills.

Even if I never make it back to Coco Beach, I still see many benefits of having my yoga certification. Especially since I’ve been going to yoga classes for a few years, I already have some basic knowledge. Yoga has many benefits including increased flexibility, strength, and balance, as well as improved posture, better sleep, and an overall sense of calmness and relaxation. This calmness is what I remember most about my yoga experiences and would be something I would like to pass on to tourists and locals in Coco Beach.

Pura Vida

2013-08-23 18.03.05Coming back from Costa Rica was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. Poor me, I know! But living on the beach has a certain cache than going back to the hustle and bustle of “real life.” Going back to the mundane schedule where each day passes slowly but the year passes quickly feels like I’m not fulfilling each and every day. Or at least I thought I was fulfilling my days before my trip; I don’t really feel like that anymore. It’s amazing how one experience can change a perspective that much!

Pura Vida was a phrase that I frequently heard in Costa Rica. I’m going to attempt to explain what Pura Vida is, but the truth of the matter is, people will need to visit Costa Rica before they will truly understand Pura Vida. P.s. the America way to say this phrase is as is – with an R – the Spanish way to say this is where you roll the R so much it turns into a D – so phonetically it’s Puda Vida.

Pura Vida is a phrase, a greeting, a feeling, and a way of life. I guess the literal translation is Good Life, but I also took it to mean ‘chill out,’ ‘calm down,’ and ‘don’t worry or stress.’ Pura Vida was how people said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to one another, similar to ‘aloha’ for Hawaiians. People also lived with this stress-less outlook on their lives – people didn’t really seem to get bogged down with the little annoyances that happen in a day. It was a wonderful sensation to live by this concept because I literally took life in a more positive stride my whole trip there. This is something I want to continue now that I’m back in the States and I’m slowly trying to figure this out.

Pura Vida is also easier to live by when you’re living on the beach or in the rainforest, and not in a city. In San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, people still said Pura Vida to one another but it did not appear that people lived in the same Pura Vida style as those people on the beach. I’m sure it’s very easy to see why – in the city there’s deadlines, traffic, and stress, or at least that’s how I feel about major cities.

Until I can get back to Costa Rica I’m going to try to find my own Pura Vida. I’m going to attempt to blend my life with Pura Vida. We’ll see how this goes but the ultimate goal is still to achieve my aspirations while being less stressed and enjoying the process more.

Pura Vida!