Modern society moves at a relatively fast pace, especially when it comes to technology. Every day, new advances and innovations are introduced in different fields. Technology especially has been a substantial part of our lives and it’s revolutionized our world in many ways. However, that doesn’t mean it comes without a cost. Unfortunately, there’s an excessive over-use of technology that can lead to some avoidable problems. E-waste is one such negative consequence, which is a serious issue that cannot be ignored. Here’s how to make minimalistic tech choices to reduce e-waste (and why you should).
FYI, this is a guest post written by Freedom Mobiles, the only mobile recycling comparison that doesn’t run on commission, but to give you an informed choice of recyclers.
How to Make Minimalistic Tech Choices
to Reduce E-Waste
What is e-waste and why is it a problem?
With the increasing accessibility and availability of tech products, users consume more gadgets than they need. E-waste is not limited to a specific product or appliance. Almost everything related to electronics can become e-waste when we throw it in the trash. Or worse, dump it on the side of the road (which is illegal by the way).
E-waste covers many devices, from computers, TVs, and home appliances to mobile phones and even plugs, switches, and gaming devices. Even your headphones and chargers can become e-waste.
In 2019, the United States generated 6.92 million tons of e-waste, which is about 46 pounds per person. It recycled only 15% of the material.
The issue of e-waste is one of the most controversial aspects of the overuse of technology. Countries like the UK and the USA are the largest producers of e-waste, mainly because they have easy access to all the gadgets and are privileged enough to let the old ones go.
Broken and unwanted tech devices are discarded and dumped into landfills and prominent empty places. There is no proper mechanism to deal with this waste even in the developed world, let alone the struggling economies.
Environmental problems in these areas are increased by the presence of lead and mercury in these products that mix with soil and water. Furthermore, these electronics could also contain precious metals such as gold, copper, platinum, aluminum, cobalt, silver, and many others. The devices are discarded without being properly recycled. Even though recycling is one of the most prominent and prevalent solutions, it also comes with many limitations. Hence, the problem of e-waste gets mixed up in a lot of complications. Mostly, the major recycling facilities are placed in countries like China, India, and Africa.
The products, like whole computers, are exported for recycling into these regions. These regions, however, are rife with ethical and moral violations. The dangerous recycling facilities often employ child workers regardless of child labor laws. These ethical considerations are also a key role player in halting the recycling process. Many international organizations have advised countries to address the issues mentioned above from a side-by-side perspective when dealing with e-waste.
Minimizing e-waste through personal choices and preferences
As you can see, it’s very imperative to minimize e-waste. Considering the growing impact of climate and environmental issues, the idea of sustainability has to be applied more aggressively to yield positive results. Though recycling and reusing precious materials from these discarded devices can be an immensely healthy practice, there is still room for personal improvement in this regard.
Tech-savvy people are usually looking for new gadgets and advanced technologies. They do not know, however, that they contribute to environmental issues. As responsible and considerate citizens, they should take personal responsibility to control this as best they can.
People should reevaluate themselves and their choices. If you think you need to sell your iPhone and need a new device, go for it. But sell it at the right place to the right buyer. Also, an individual should differentiate between their necessities and luxuries. They can use one device for multiple functions, and they do not need separate gadgets to perform specific functions.
In addition to this, consumers should try to increase the longevity of their devices. They can do so by keeping their gadgets clean and protecting them from draining for extended life. Moreover, users should look out for more environmentally-friendly products.
Products that are labeled or certified by the concerned authorities should be prioritized over others. We should donate used products to social drives and charities rather than throw them away in unattended facilities. Consumers should decrease their tech spending and become more organized in terms of their tech preferences so they can minimize e-waste.
Even selling off is a preferable approach to get rid of old and used gadgets. Some marketplaces offer exchange reselling options which are better than just generating waste. The consumer sector should be more educated and responsible about their choices. They should realize the issue of e-waste before it gets way more complicated. Governments should plan accordingly, but individuals should also not act impulsively. They should consider multiple factors before making any tech-related decision.
Here’s how to minimize e-waste:
- Sell your mobile devices to responsible recyclers
- Donate old electronics in working condition to social drives, charities, or thrift stores
- Ask loved ones if they have a need for any of your old working devices
- Give non-functioning electronics, like TVs, tangled/broken headphones, and computers, to Best Buy (they will recycle them)
- Attend e-waste collection events in your city
- Make your devices last longer by keeping them clean and protecting them from draining
- Repair your devices before replacing them
- Choose eco-friendly devices whenever you can
- Don’t give in to overconsumption – buy less and use what you have
So, what are your favorite ways to avoid e-waste? Leave your tips in the comments below.
Guest post: Stewart is the Managing Director at Freedom Mobiles – a comparison site of leading online mobile recyclers that helps customers get the best deal for their iPhones, iPads or other products.