Advances in technology have opened up a galaxy of possibilities, and new and improved tech is being released every day! While this is exciting for consumers and profitable for companies, there is a relentless, environmentally harmful side effect to this booming industry – E-Waste.
Technology often has a lifespan of just a few years, but the toxins in electronics don’t belong in the landfill. According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, over 1,000 materials are used to make electronic products and their components, and about 40% of the heavy metals in landfills come from discarded electronic equipment. These include dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.
So, what can be done to keep these hazardous materials out of landfills? Three words: refurbish, redistribute, and recycle.
Refurbish and Redistribute
As consumers, we’re constantly being told why we have to have the latest, greatest technology. But, once you get your hands on that shiny new gadget, what happens to the old one? Many people are resistant to give up their old electronics due to emotional attachment or the idea that they are still valuable.
Well, the truth is they are! There is an enormous demand for affordable electronics on a local and global scale. Your used electronics can have a second life with others who can use them to lead more educated, productive, and happy lives!
There are many charities dedicated to the refurbishment and reuse of technology. The National Cristina Foundation links donors with charities in their area in need of specific tech resources. Since you can use their nonprofit locator to donate to nearby charities, your unwanted gadgets can benefit your community! World Computer Exchange is a global nonprofit that promotes the reuse of E-Waste and its ultimate disposal in an environmentally responsible manner. They help people worldwide gain access to technology that will further their lives and benefit their communities.
If you’re not ready to donate your electronics, you can always try to sell them to someone who could use them yourself. Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, and eBay are all viable options for rehoming your devices while still making a few bucks. Just remember to erase all your data before selling!
Maybe your electronics are beyond the point of usefulness. What now? While you can’t just throw your old tech in the recycling bin for collection, there are many options for making sure that your device is disposed of responsibly. Big box retailers, such as Staples and Best Buy, offer electronics recycling services.
Unfortunately, many companies who claim to recycle electronics don’t do so responsibly. Luckily, there is an organization whose mission is to promote best practices in the electronics recycling industry﹘ e-Stewards. To ensure that your device is disposed of in the best possible way, check e-Stewards’ recycler locator.
To learn more about E-Waste and ways we can recycle and improve the environment, check out the movie my team and I made: Silicon Mountain.