The Giving Green Machine

The first e-waste recycling kiosk that pays instant cash for recycling old phones, MP3 players and tablets. Find your local ecoATM at www.ecoATM.com.

Contrary to popular belief, we’re not all robots here at ecoATM HQ. We’re actual humans, here to make it fast, easy and convenient to recycle your old phones, MP3 players, and tablets for cash. Take a minute to sneak a peek behind the kiosk and get to know our team!

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Name: Jeff Ploetner

Title: Manager of Software Engineering

Stuff you do inside the ecoATM office:

My primary responsibility is developing and maintaining the visual and robotic subsystems of ecoATM kiosks, including visual identification and inspection of devices. I often say that I get to do all the fun stuff that is the “magic” inside an ecoATM, like writing the computer vision software that allows the kiosk to “see” devices and recognize what they are. 

I also work heavily with our factory and tech support team to ensure that our kiosks are being built properly, are operating smoothly, and are running all the latest and greatest software. I work with a great group of very talented people, and it is very rewarding to build software that delights our customers and provides a great experience.

Stuff you do outside the ecoATM office:

My main hobby outside of work is flying remote controlled airplanes, helicopters and quadcopters. I have quite a few planes and find it really enjoyable to get out of the office, breathe some fresh air, and work on my flying skills. Of course, it can be stressful if I ever crash (which happens more than I’d like), but the technology is getting so cheap these days that it’s easy and fun to do the repairs. 

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My garage is starting to fill up:

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Did you ever own a phone that you’d be embarrassed to carry around now?

Yes, an old Qualcomm QCP-2700 from 1997. It’s actually sitting in ecoATM’s Phone Museum right now. I had a whopping 70 voice minutes per month and 0 data usage back then!

If you could pick one robot from pop culture history to hang out with, which one would you pick?

Johnny 5 from Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2. I loved that movie when I was growing up and it in part inspired me to go into engineering. Johnny had so many funny phrases like “NO DISASSEMBLE!” 

Describe one of your favorite days at ecoATM.

It’s hard to pick just one as we’ve had so many, but two particular days stand out:

  • Several years ago, I pulled an all-nighter to bring up each robotic subsystem for the “Third Generation” ecoATM kiosk – the first kiosk that was going to be fully automated. Though it was a very long day/night, everything came together for an important demo the next day, and it was very rewarding to see the first kiosk come to life!
  • The day it was announced that we were being acquired by Outerwall. ecoATM was such an exciting startup to work for, and when that announcement came, I knew that all that hard work was finally going to pay off.

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Is your team currently looking to hire? If so, for what positions?

We have been hiring a lot of people into the Engineering department lately, but we but we still have some positions open: 

  • Software Engineer - Kiosk - C#
  • SQL Server DBA           
  • Software Quality Assurance Engineer

You can more about job opportunities on our Careers page. 

Are you iOS or Android?

iOS, but I don’t have a strong opinion, it’s just a personal preference.

Favorite quote.

I don’t really have one. but I strongly believe in the power of positive thinking. You should never stop learning and growing, and you should always keep improving yourself (and your software!).

genewithswag:

gotye | Tumblr en We Heart It.

Favorite Quotes from Sustainable Brands San Diego (So Far)

Things are in full swing here at Sustainable Brands San Diego. We are part of the Activation Hub where other exhibitors and attendees can come get a free demo of our kiosks to see how we’re approaching the e-waste problem.

There’s a lot of great information and inspiration coming from the speakers and sessions at Sustainable Brands. We’ve compiled a list of our top 5 quotes tweeted by the community so far:

1. Shared by @HP Living Progress: “In order to put a man on the moon, NASA had to solve 3000 “impossible” challenges” - Gil Friend

2. Shared by @Robert Beard: “60-70% of deforestation is due to agriculture, not just pulp & paper.  We must restore trees in farm areas” - Tensie Whelan

3. Shared by @jonjonbailey: “It’s not the wickedness of evil that could be our downfall, it’s the weakness of good.” - Eduardo Balarezo

4. Shared by @betsy_henning: “Sustainability is about value creation.” - Dean Scarborough

5. Shared by @pamvanorden: “Use facts to show you care, not to show that you are right.” - Tom LaForge

Let us know your favorite quotes, too!

We are providing live tweets and event updates on our Twitter & Facebook feeds. Be sure to follow us to get the scoop!

(photo via)

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School’s out for summer, and Father’s Day is coming up! You’re looking to get both your graduate and your paternal parent the best gadget or piece of tech, but you admittedly need some guidance. We’ve got a few ideas that will make you a hero in some lucky person’s eyes.

  1. Alarm Clock. Graduates are especially vulnerable to falling into a “summer schedule” of staying up late and falling into bed until noon everyday. Save them from this fate by picking up an innovative alarm clock (like the Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light) to get them out of bed at a respectable hour.
  2. Coffee Maker. A gift to give by itself or in addition to an alarm clock, this will be another subtle nudge to get up and at ‘em this summer. 
  3. Fitbit Flex. Keep motivated and healthy by counting daily steps and measuring your progress on this wireless activity and sleep wristband. Did your Dad make a resolution six months ago to get into better shape? This will only make it easier for him to start steppin’.
  4. Xbox One. A must-have for grads and brain breaks between job applications, plus you get a chance to beat your last high score.
  5. Streaming Service. Show your love with Redbox Instant and ensure a continuous stream of The Fast and The Furious Series in record time!
  6. Car Audio Kit/Bluetooth. Distracted driving has caused a severe rise in the number of car accidents on the roads. Keep the newly academically liberated focused on their next road trip by giving them the gift of a hands-free car kit. If the graduate’s cell phone doesn’t have Bluetooth, recycle it at ecoATM and help them get a shiny new one.
  7. Camera. Parents and former students alike will be taking off for distant lands this summer. Improve the material they’ll be uploading to Facebook with a new camera. Their Facebook friends will thank you.
  8. Tablet. Wow with the brand new Surface Pro 3, or go with a slightly older tablet if you’re buying on a budget.

We want to hear from you: What gift is on your list this summer?

Photo Credit: GradeHacks

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off tomorrow in San Francisco! Let’s take a look back to see some of the greatest unveilings and announcements to come out of this event. What do you think tomorrow will bring? You can catch the livestream starting at 10 am PST. 

3 Things We’re Looking Forward to at Sustainable Brands San Diego

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The ecoATM team (including the kiosks and our Outerwall family) will be attending and exhibiting at Sustainable Brands in San Diego next week, and we can’t wait to get there! This is an event where environmental and sustainability leaders from all corners of the country come together to discuss a range of topics, such as how to become the office champion for “greening” work processes, or how to implement a sustainable product design. These topics are right up our alley, and we’re excited to have an actual ecoATM kiosk on-site so we can discuss and show our fellow sustainability leaders how we’re approaching e-waste recycling.

Did we mention that the event is in San Diego this year? As conference attendees begin to ascend into our beloved hometown, let’s take a minute to talk about what we’re looking forward to most:

Networking. The attendee list for this event is impressive, and each person brings something different to the table. ecoATM started in 2008, and as a relatively new company, we’re eager to listen and learn from our peers. Plus, we’ve never networked on a paddleboard before, and now we finally, finally have the chance to do so.

A break from the everyday routine. Let’s face it: Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the office and mix up the usual day-to-day. A new routine (and a few cups of coffee) can cause the brain to hit the refresh button. This will help us think about new strategies or tools we can integrate into our business as the conference progresses. These specific sessions are definitely on our checklist (find the full program here):

  • The Value and Values of Content Marketing Today
  • The Responsible Entrepreneur
  • The Circular Economy: Beyond Theory into Practical Product and System Design
  • Innovation in Recycling and Take Back Programs

Exhibiting at the Activation Hub. Booth #604 – that’s the number to remember! Make sure you stop by and try a demo or two. We always enjoy seeing people interact with the kiosk for the first time, and of course for us to answer questions and get feedback.

If you can’t make it to the actual event next week, follow updates online by tracking the #sb2014sd hashtag or visiting us on Facebook or Twitter. Sustainable Brands will also be live streaming all the action right here on their website.

Alison is the Community Relations Specialist at ecoATM - stop by and say hello to her at Sustainable Brands!

To promote National Bike Month and the environmental benefits that come with this form of transportation, we interviewed ecoATM employees to see why they love to ride. 

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Meet Alex!

1. Why do you ride, or what motivates you the most? (Commute, for fun, for exercise, etc.) 

I ride road bikes primarily for fun. However, knowing that it’s good for my health and the environment are added benefits. 

The part I enjoy most about riding is the connection I have with a bike and knowing that what I get out of it is directly attributable to the energy I put into each pedal stroke. 

In addition to riding, I also collect bikes. Each one is unique, and I have come to appreciate the beauty in each bike’s design and quality.

2. Describe a bike trip you took that really sticks out in your mind. What made it special?  

I haven’t taken any exotic trips, but my favorite event is Bike the Drive in Chicago. Each year during Memorial Day weekend, the city closes the street so cyclists can ride up and down Lake Shore Drive. To have the Chicago skyline on one side of the street and the serenity of the lake on the other results in stunning scenery. It’s open to everyone, and it’s fun to see the different types of riders and their bikes.

3. How do you keep safe on the roads?

I keep my bikes well maintained. This includes checking and pumping up the tires, as well as the brake pads, before every ride. 

While riding, I always wear a helmet. In traffic, I assume that motorists do not see me, and I stay aware of my surroundings in case I need to swerve or hit the brakes. I use hand signals when turning or leaving the bike lane so motorists behind me know what to expect.  I also try to stay visible by using lights and wearing reflective materials when it’s dark out. 

Finally, I carry a kit that includes:

  • Identification and emergency contact information
  • Cash
  • Tube patch kit
  • Spare tube
  • Tire boot
  • Tire levers
  • Hand pump
  • Spare chain pins
  • Multi-tool

4. What advice would you give to new riders? 

  • Get a bike you enjoy riding. This means getting a bike that fits not only your body dimensions, but also the type of riding you want to do. A good shop can help you with this. Make sure you visit multiple stores so you can see different makes and models. Finding and developing a relationship with a shop can also come in handy down the road if you want to make upgrades.
  • Find bike buddies. While cycling can often times be an individual activity, riding in a group can open up new friendships and routes for you to enjoy.
  • Be safe!

If you could bike anywhere in the world right this second, where would you go? 

The Pyrenees. The ride is set in the mountains with steep climbs, but the roads are isolated with beautiful views.

Hope you had a wonderful Bike Month!

To promote National Bike Month and the environmental benefits that come with this form of transportation, we interviewed ecoATM employees to see why they love to ride. 

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Meet Ahron! 

1. Why do you ride, or what motivates you the most? (Commute, for fun, for exercise, etc.)

I mostly mountain bike and ride trails. When you ride off road, you have to stay in the zone and focus on the terrain and obstacles or you’re guaranteed to crash. There isn’t time to think about work, life or anything else but what you are doing in that moment.

2. Describe a bike trip you took that really sticks out in your mind. What made it special?  

A few weeks ago, my wife and two boys (ages 5 and 7) went on vacation in Maui. We rented bikes to ride in Haleakalā National Park. We were dropped at the summit and rode downhill for 23 miles. It was an amazing ride.

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3. How do you keep safe on the roads?

Like I said, I mostly ride off road, but I always have:

  • A helmet
  • CamelBak
  • A few energy bars
  • Spare tire
  • Tire pump
  • Bike Multi-Tool

4. What advice would you give to new riders?

Get a bike that’s the right size for you and a quality bike rack for your car so you can explore and ride in new locations.

5. If you could bike anywhere in the world right this second, where would you go?

I would love the ride through Chile. There is a 1000km unpaved trail encompassing some of Chile’s most stunning terrain, including mountains, lakes and glaciers.

Read more about bike riding and how it can help the planet.