5 Star Readers Picks

International Journalism Review’s

best of web industry” 5 Star picks (OVERALL WINNER – IJR NEW’s best reviewed tool to conduct online investigations  )

According readers, discussions, overall satisfaction, and Journalist picks.

5 Things You Should Always Recycle

 
Chances are you’re already recycling the cans, bottles, and paper that gets picked up at the curb, but what about all that other stuff that’s lurking in your drawers or closets – like outdated gadgets and dead batteries – that you’re not sure how to recycle? The following household items are especially important to donate or recycle because they contain materials that can contaminate the environment if they wind up in landfills or that can easily be reclaimed for use in new products. Here are some convenient ways to keep them out of the trash:

 According to the EPA, recycling just one computer CPU and one monitor is equivalent to preventing 1.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released and recycling one television prevents four to eight pounds of lead from being added to the waste stream. 

  1. Electronics: All Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy stores accept larger electronics like desktop computers for recycling for a small fee (usually $10) and smaller ones like cell phones and PDAs for free. Goodwill stores accept used computer equipment (some locations also accept televisions) for free.
    And you can earn RecycleBank Points by recycling MP3 players/iPods, laptops, and cell phones through our partners at Collective Good, FlipSwap, and Gazelle.
    Why: You’ll keep toxic materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and brominated flame retardants out of landfills. And useful materials will be recovered, saving energy and resources.
  1. Rechargeable batteries: From cordless phones and power tools, digital cameras, and other gizmos – these can be recycled for free at 30,000 drop-off points nationwide, including retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, RadioShack, Sears, and Target. Enter your zip code at Call2Recycle to find one near you.
    Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to find places to recycle alkaline (or single-use)batteries. Try Earth911 to find drop off locations or order a box (for $34.50, including prepaid shipping) from Battery Solutions and send them up to 12 pounds of alkaline and/or rechargeable batteries for recycling.
    Why: Like many electronics, batteries contain heavy metals and other chemicals best kept out of the waste stream. Plus, recyclers reclaim metals from them that are used to make, for example, new batteries and steel.
  1. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, but they contain a small amount of mercury and shouldn’t be thrown in the trash. Take them to any Ikea or Home Depot store for recycling or go to Lamp Recycle to find other drop off locations near you.
    Why: CFLs in landfills can break and release mercury, a neurotoxin, into the environment.

 

  1. Plastic Bags: Even if you’ve switched to reusable bags for your shopping, you probably have a bunch of these stored in your home. Luckily, lots of retailers like Wal-Mart, Safeway, Albertsons, Wegmans, Krogers, and Giant now have bins where you can recycle plastic grocery bags (and newspaper, drycleaning, bread, and sealable food storage bags). To find a drop off location near you, go to Plastic Bag Recycling or Earth911.
    Why: They’re made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and when thrown away they take a very long time to decompose. Recyclers will turn them into new products like plastic lumber.
  1. Anything you don’t need that could be of great value to others — for instance, you can donate your used prescription glasses to the nonprofit OneSight at any LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Target Optical, or Sears Optical location (or go to One Sight for more locations near you). You can also donate unused, unexpired medications including antibiotics, pain relievers, and others by mailing them to the Health Equity Project. The glasses and medications will be distributed to people in need in developing countries.

Keep in mind that you should always recycle hazardous substances like paint, pesticides, propane gas tanks, and motor oil at your town’s household hazardous waste collection events or permanent collection center. Go to Earth911or call 1-800-CLEANUP to find collection sites and events.

These are in no order, enjoy!  Please comment and help us decide next years winner. (All of these websites are free to use)

1. Best Investor Advice

Forbes

2. Best Overall News Delivery

Fox News

3. Best Charity

American Institute of Philanthropy (API)

4. Best Sport News

ESPN

5. Best Consumer Watchdog

 Consumer Watchdog 

6. Best U.S. Natural Resource Investments for 2011

New Century Coal

7. Best overall  city in the world

New York City

8. Best Overall Entertainment

Mixed Martial Arts

9.  Best  Website

FaceBook

10.  Best Pet

Pug

11. Best Nightclub

Gatecrasher, Sheffield, UK

12. Best online news delivery

Emailwire

13. Best Travel source

Kayak

14. Best Internet marketing Tools (Design, optimization, SEO, website Self help)

Greenman Consulting

Consumer Picks: How does your brand stack up?

Thousands of diners rate 139 chains in our inaugural survey
September 1, 2011 | By Robin Lee Allen

The customer experience — that sum of all the parts that affect a consumer’s interaction with your brand — has always been important, but never more so than it is today.

If the past few years have taught the restaurant industry anything, it’s that the customer experience is extremely powerful, with its ability to draw even financially beleaguered consumers into restaurants despite overwhelming monetary and psychological odds.

And given a growing population of self-appointed restaurant critics and social networks that propel opinions worldwide at warp speed, the perceptions of a vocal few can make or break a business.

To better understand the elements that comprise that all-powerful dining experience, Nation’s Restaurant News and WD Partners of Dublin, Ohio, developed the Consumer Picks survey, a comprehensive study of customer attitudes toward 139 restaurants brands. The results, which were culled from 6,800 responses, are presented in the following pages.

They are broken into three industry segments: limited service, with 92 chains; casual and fine dining, with 35 chains; and family, with 12 brands.

Within each segment, we further narrowed the results, comparing brands by menu type — pitting pizza against pizza, burger against burger — to reveal how chains fared against their closest competitors.

As you read the report, you’ll also discover which aspects of the dining experience, such as service, atmosphere and menu variety, had the most pull among each segments’ patrons — as well as the chains that best delivered in those areas.

Finally, we include demographic information noting which brands resonated with diners in a variety of groups, divided by gender, age, income and family status.

While the survey findings within each segment varied, some common themes emerged. One key finding was the relative unimportance of value compared with other attributes. In each segment, consumers said attributes such as cleanliness and food quality were more important to them than value.

Another theme revealed by the survey is the importance of differentiation. Almost without exception, consumer opinion tipped in favor of concepts with unique identities or traits that distinguished them from their peers, such as a unique service style or a singularly focused menu.

Along the same lines, consumers rewarded with high scores brands that stayed true to their core concepts. For instance, Chipotle’s reputation far exceeded that of its limited-service Mexican peers, likely because its oft-cited “Food with Integrity” campaign is widely known and embraced. Similarly, consumers gave high marks to the Ben & Jerry’s brand, a vocal crusader for social responsibility.

Another resounding theme was the importance of exceeding customer expectations. Nowhere is this more clearly reflected than in the esteem customers professed for Ruth’s Chris Steak House. For many, especially given today’s manic economy, a visit to Ruth’s Chris might be as rare as an order of filet, but the experience clearly lives up to the expectation, prompting high grades in such attributes as food quality, service, atmosphere and likelihood to recommend the chain to others.

And that, of course, is really where the rubber meets the road. Word of mouth remains key given our turbocharged social networks. What consumers think about a brand is what they say, often to thousands of other potential customers. The Consumer Picks survey brings those thoughts to light, empowering you to change perceptions into realities or vice versa.
   

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