Every year, we generate about 50 million tons of e-waste. But what does that even mean? Essentially, that’s the equivalent of tossing out out 1000 laptops every single second. The problem is technology is moving faster than we can keep up with. Everyone always wants the latest and greatest phone; Gadgets aren’t built to last and often need to be replaced; New makes and models are constantly being pumped out. Whether we know it or not, technology dictates so many parts of our lives, whether that be at work or at home. But it’s important that we learn how to be responsible consumers and know how to properly dispose of technology to combat e-waste.
But what exactly is e-waste? Simply put, e-waste is an umbrella term used to describe pieces of technology and electrical appliances deemed to be at the end of their useful life. The problem is, however, that technology such as cell phones are only expected to last around 2 years. In fact, the average American updates their phone every 18 months. It is similar with other technology such as computers, televisions and tablets – there is a throwaway culture associated with them.
But what we need to understand is manufacturing these electronics is an incredibly high-carbon, energy-intensive process. When we toss these items in the trash, or worse – in our environment – we’re wasting precious resources used to make that product. Most electronics are made using virgin plastic, aka crude oil which is extracted from the earth in an unsustainable manner. Lets not forget all the other materials that make up our electronics either. All this goes to waste when we choose to discard our electronics.
E-waste is the single biggest growing waste stream in the world. It’s important to remember that the term e-waste encompasses all forms of electrical waste, not simply cell phones. But how can you make sure you are reducing your e-waste? Here are 5 simple solutions.
5 Solutions to E-Waste
1. Buy refurbished tech and sell your old tech
Have an old phone? Let me guess – it’s probably still sitting in a junk drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day again. But instead, why not sell your old tech? It stops the item eventually ending up in the landfill and you can earn yourself some cash too.
Personally, I recommend using Gizmogo, a company on a mission to help save the environment by combatting e-waste. All you do is get a quote for your old device, send it to them and get paid. They also offer free USPS and UPS shipping so you won’t pay a cent for sending in your device.
The best news is, even broken devices can be sold – although the payout might be slightly less.
Here’s what devices Gizmogo accepts for re-sale:
- Camera lenses
- Game consoles
- Multimedia players
- And other electronic devices!
Gizmogo is vocal about the fact that most e-waste, isn’t waste at all – parts of old technology can be harvested and reused. In fact, for every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered.
When you need to replace your old tech, always look into refurbished electronics first. Refurbished phones are second hand phones which are given a new lease of life. They’re checked and repaired before being sold. Not only are they better for the environment but they will also save you a ton of money too!
2. Recycle bigger electronics at e-waste events or Best Buy
Got some large electronics or appliances? Take these to a local e-waste event near you. I live in NYC, so for me, these events are called SAFE Disposal events. NYC.gov always updates the list to reflect the latest events happening across all five boroughs. At these events, you can be sure that the waste will be responsibly disposed of and recycled.
Alternatively, you can get Best Buy to recycle your electronics for you, free of charge. Check out their website to find a full list of which electronics you can recycle with them.
I also recommend looking into special waste drop off sites, like the ones in New York’s five boroughs. These are locations where New York City residents can drop-off certain harmful products.
The sites are open from 10 AM to 5 PM every Saturday and the last Friday of the month. Sites are closed on legal holidays and may be closed during severe weather. Check and see if you have any in your state or town.
3. Take care of the electronics you have
Using what you have and making it last is always the best choice. This applies to technology too!
Try challenging yourself to make your phone last an extra year or avoid upgrading to the latest gadget.
Not only will this reduce e-waste, but it will also save you money. You can avoid a lot of impulse purchases when you stick to using what you have.
For example, my laptop is three years old and still going strong (knock on wood). I do my best to upkeep it, but also I made sure to invest in a high-quality product from a trusted brand. This is always a good idea too and will help your devices last longer!
Cellphones and laptops are the electronics we use the most on a frequent basis. Here are a few ways to keep these in tip top shape.
|Cellphone Care||Laptop Care|
|– Protect your device with a cellphone case (I love Pela Case), and screen protector.||– Regularly clean the gunk that gets in between your keyboard keypads.|
|– Clean off your screen with an alcohol wipe.||– Make sure your laptop is charged, but not overcharged. If the laptop has a problem staying charged, likely you need to replace the battery.|
|– Consider investing in a carrying case for your phone.||– Keep software up to date.|
|– Find a safe place to store your phone when not in use.||– Clean the screen periodically, or when dirty.|
|– Always keep your phone dry.||– Keep your laptop in a clean, sterile environment + don’t let it overheat. Make sure it’s well ventilated.|
Make sure you protect your devices, with covers, cases and screen protectors. Clean your appliances regularly, and remember to treat them with care. Accidents happen, and sometimes electrical items will break, but try not to let them break through carelessness.
4. Choose Energy Star products
Energy Star is a fantastic program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy. It is designed to promote and provide information about the efficient consumption of energy.
If you opt for a product certified by Energy Star, you can be sure that your product is as energy efficient as possible. This means you will be saving money on your bills and reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.
My laptop is energy star efficient and it runs like a dream. In no way do Energy Star devices hurt the performance of your device.
5. Report illegally dumped e-waste
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen e-waste illegally dumped on the side of the road. Unfortunately, I’ve seen TVs, laptops and even computers left in places it really shouldn’t be.
This is a problem because e-waste can leach out toxic heavy metals over time that contaminate the soil and groundwater.
Be responsible, and if you see any illegally dumped e-waste, report it to 311 to arrange a collection.
What do you think of these e-waste solutions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Huge thank you to Gizmogo for sponsoring this post – be sure to check them out for more info about selling your devices and creating a more closed loop economy.
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