There are mountains of e-waste in China. Some of it is there to be recycled, but most is waiting to be shipped off to e-waste landfills in Africa or other parts of Asia.
The term electronic waste refers to any electronic device that is no longer wanted or has become obsolete. Electronics classified as e-waste can either be in perfect working condition or be unusable.
Think about how many people ditch their old mobile phones for the newer model or how frequently they discard an old TV for a sleeker, more powerful one. Owing to rapidly changing technology, the rise of disposable income, and easy availability of electronic products, large amounts of e-waste are produced every year.
Do Something points out that a whopping 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed every year. Unfortunately, only about 12.5% of it is recycled. Even more unfortunate is the fact that most of these consumer electronics can be reused or are in perfect working condition. Most devices such as cell phones, laptops, memory sticks, TVs, tablets and batteries end up in landfills and contribute to air and water pollution.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to reduce your family’s e-waste.
Donate or Sell Working Electronics
The simplest way to efficiently manage e-waste is to simply sell your electronics if it’s in good working condition. Go on eBay or Craigslist to sell these items and give it to someone who really needs it. Otherwise, there are recycling websites and comparison websites that will give you a price for your old gadgets and allow you to send them off, to be repurposed or recycled effectively.
Use Your Old Mobile Phone as a GPS Device
Most people swap their old phones for a new one every year. Instead of letting it sit in the desk drawer, or worse, throwing it in the trash, consider using it for some other purpose. You can keep it in your car and use it as a GPS device or music player. Old phones can be converted into universal remote controls or be used to monitor security cameras.
Recycle via a Retailer
Major retailers and brands have in-store, online and drop-off site recycling options. They recycle computers, mobile phones, and TVs. In fact, some will allow you to trade your obsolete equipment for gift cards. Before purchasing electronics, ask the store if they have a buyback program. Most large retailers give that option to customers.
Check E-Cycling Centers in Your State
One way to encourage e-waste management in your household is by trying to give all your electronics that can’t be donated or resold to free sites. They have local groups that are moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free. Alternatively, you can collect all your e-waste once a month and give them away at an e-cycling center in your state (http://www.ecyclingcentral.com/).
Organize Your Electronics
Given a number of electronics that we stash away in drawers and cupboards, it’s no wonder that we forget what items we have in our house. Instead of buying new devices, organize your existing ones to see if you really need to buy them. For example, you may be in need of a memory stick but after organizing all your electronics, you may discover that you already have an unused one. Furthermore, try to share gadgets, cords, and connectors with family members rather than buy the same device twice.
Know Your State’s Laws About Battery Disposal
Rechargeable batteries contain hazardous waste which is why some states have made it illegal to throw them away in the trash. The good news is that these types of batteries contain lead, plastic, and metal which can be easily recycled.
It’s so easy to purchase a sleek TV, the latest mobile phone or a brand-new laptop. Most people don’t even stop to think if they really need them. Before buying anything, ask yourself whether you really need it. If you’re buying a new phone even though your old one is in good working condition, why not simply upgrade the software? You can repair your old laptop instead of buying a new one. Being a sensible consumer will go a long way in productively managing your household’s e-waste.
Store Your Data Online
Why use a memory stick or device when you can now easily store significant amounts of data on the Internet? There are many different types of clouds storage available online such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and IDrive. Some of them will provide a free 30-day trial so you can see what will work best for you.
Buy Energy Star Rated Appliances
The Environmental Protection Agency offers an Energy Star Program that gives rebates when you recycle old appliances and buy new Energy Star models. Energy Star appliances are not only environment-friendly but consume less electricity thereby saving money on your electric bill. Next time you purchase a washing machine, refrigerator, microwave or air conditioner, opt for
Energy Star models.
Educate Yourself on the Materials Used in Electronics
Last but certainly not the least, research about the raw materials being used to manufacture your mobile phone, dishwasher or laptop. Some raw materials are easy to recycle while others aren’t. Gadgets also contain a number of toxic materials. The more you educate yourself, the better you’ll be able to purchase items that will not harm the environment in the long term.
Moreover, remember to wipe out all the memory on the device and factory reset your mobile before selling, donating or giving it away. Being more mindful of the electronics we consume and the role we can play in reducing e-waste can go a long way in helping the planet.