Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to Recycle Your E-Waste

Many of us find our post-holiday consumption bliss being tempered by the stark reality that we are now surrounded by electronic waste. Suddenly, you find yourself with a new MacBook, flat screen TV, or iPhone - but what to do with your PC, Razr Phone, and 30-inch Sony TV?

If you answered, "Throw it away," consider this - According to Earth 911, "Electronic waste accounts for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste that you currently find in landfills. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury. When placed in a landfill, these materials (even in small doses) can contaminate soil as well as drinking water."

Yikes! There has to be a better way...

The Daily Green, one of my favorite blogs, offers many tips for recycling your e-waste in their blog, "How to Recycle Your Used Electronics," including very useful information about how to recycle by brand. In addition to their recycling programs, companies from Apple to Sony now offer trade-in programs that give credit towards an upgrade.

The Consumer Electronics association runs a website, mygreenelectronics, where you can search for recycling drop-off locations by entering in the type of electronics you would like to recycle and the zip code. A similar resource is offered by The Electronic Industries Alliance and Earth 911.

Cell phones can often be recycled or donated to charity. You can find a donation box near you by visiting Wireless Recyling, or you can send your cell phone, pager, or PDA to Collective Good and choose which charity will benefit from your donation.

As for what makes those products so exciting, or at least utilitarian, those gadget support systems need to be recycled too! Printer cartridges, batteries, CDs, and DVDs can all easily avoid the landfill. Go to Battery Solutions to recycle single use and rechargeable batteries. Recycle Place pays for empty inkjet and laser toner cartridges, as well as cell phones.

If your television, DVD player, or VHS tape is simply the victim of an upgrade or new interests, remember the old yard sale mantra, "Your trash is bound to be someone else's treasure." Consider posting a giveaway on freecycle.org or try selling it on Craig's List or Ebay.

So clearly there are better ways. In fact I began my research expecting there to be a dearth of options, and in fact I found just the opposite. It is fitting after all that the minds behind the technology that sends words, pictures, and music through space resulting in a "smaller planet" should also help to provide the technology that we need to make sure that there is still enough clean room for everyone.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

There is also a company called GreenDisk to whom you can send your computers and peripheral systems (mice, cords, CDs, printers, monitors, etc), and for a fee they will recycle them for you, including wiping your hard drives completely. there is a cost involved, but you can ship it from your home to them.
http://greendisk.com/gdsite/Default.aspx