New York State Attorney General finds charity telemarketers keep 62% of what you donate

boiler room

In 2012, New York charities raised nearly $249 million, but telemarketers kept about 62 percent of the donations, the state attorney general says…

Often telemarketers target seniors or the disabled because they are home, answer the phone and are usually socially isolated and eager to speak with people because they are lonely. However, many are on fixed incomes and these donations are a real sacrifice that eats into funds needed for healthcare, food, prescriptions and heat.

Charities in New York City received the highest rate of return, with telemarketing campaigns taking in $42 million and returning $22 million, or 53.9 percent, while Long Island organizations fared the worst, pulling in a gross of $8 million and a net of $2 million or 25 percent…

Some of the non-profit groups with the worst percentage of money to the charity and fundraising expenses are law enforcement and veterans groups — two areas that seniors are apt to donate.

For example, the Department of New York Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States collected 15 percent from the fundraising money, the Police Conference of New York also gained 15 percent and the state Association of Chiefs of Police received 20 percent.

For those considered a donation via a telemarketer, Schneiderman advises asking the caller making the solicitation to describe the programs conducted by the charity, how much of a donation will be used for those programs, how much the telemarketer is being paid and how much if any of a donation the charity is guaranteed to receive.

Checking up on folks asking for charitable donations should be number one. Cynicism aside, charities are a great source of marks for any hustler. The NY AG’s report [.pdf] is available over here – and it’s useful whether or not you live in the Empire State.

Wear rubber gloves when you take that cash register receipt

receipt

What do stopping for your morning coffee, grabbing a sandwich at noon, filling up your gas tank, and making an after-work trip to the grocery store all have in common? Although we wish that was the intro to a really bad joke, the truth is they all expose you to concerning levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical that acts like estrogen and harms everything from your brain and heart to your reproductive tract.

While canned food usually gets most of the blame when it comes to our contact with the hormone-altering chemical, more studies are finding that skin exposure to BPA is a real threat, too.

The latest research, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that handling thermal paper used for movie and airline tickets and ATM, gas-pump, and store receipts reliably leads to BPA transfer into your body…

While the average person can cut down on this unnecessary BPA exposure by saying no to trivial receipts, the researchers are even more concerned about cashiers who may spend 40-plus hours a week handling chemical-coated receipts.

Heat-sensitive thermal paper is coated in colorless BPA powder because it helps bind to dye to form the letters and numbers you see on receipts. “When you touch thermal paper, you’re getting exposed to massive amounts of BPA,” explains veteran BPA researcher Frederick vom Saal…”Until recently, we didn’t know that. It’s just one example of BPA being used in a way that I never would have thought about.”

RTFA for more ways to worry about BPA. China has banned its use in a number of products. So has Canada. And a few local initiatives in the United States. The FDA is “studying”.

We need a few markets to convert to the SQUARE system used at my favorite coffee shop in Santa Fe. After sliding your credit card and doing all the magic calculations including tip – they send the receipt to your smartphone. I worry less about low level RF than BPA. 🙂

Thanks, Mike

Eggshells could be recycled into ceramics

According to the US Department of Agriculture, every year approximately 455,000 tons of discarded eggshells must be transported and disposed of in the US alone. Now, however, scientists at the University of Aveiro in Portugal have developed a method of using such eggshell waste in the production of ceramic goods.

Although the specifics of the technology are still under wraps, it involves incorporating crushed eggshells into a ceramic slurry which is subsequently processed “according to a specific protocol that includes a 3-cycle cooking phase.” Samples of porous pavement made from the slurry exhibit desirable qualities such as porosity and water absorption, and are overall considered to be of sufficient quality to meet industry standards.

Besides keeping eggshells out of landfills, the process could also allow ceramics manufacturers to save money – the calcium in the shells would be a lower-cost alternative to calcite, which is traditionally used in the production of ceramic items. Additionally, calcite must be mined, with all the environmental consequences that doing so entails…

The process has been tested in the lab, and the university’s Technology Transfer Office is now seeking industry partners to help finance a large-scale pilot project. And should ceramics manufacturers not have a need for all of the world’s eggshells, scientists in India are working on a method of using them for carbon sequestration…

I’m not holding my breath waiting for carbon sequestration courtesy of Earth’s poultry. The ceramics project sounds like a solid idea – as anyone who’s ever tried to chew egg shells in a slip-shod omelet can attest.