September 19-25th is the EPA's Pollution Prevention Week, a time to consider the impact of daily habits and commit to making them a little more green. If you've got tips for living a lower-impact life, please share them throughout the week on our Facebook page!
Here at Crisp Green, we love our gadgets and gizmos...especially if they're made with sustainable materials, or help us to live a more efficient life. With upgrades and new advancements happening everyday, it's easy to find yourself with a pile of outdated electronics and no idea what to do with them.
Electronics consist of valuable resources, such as precious metals, copper, and engineered plastics, all of which require considerable energy to process and manufacture. Recycling electronics recovers valuable materials, conserves virgin resources, and results in lower environmental emissions (including greenhouse gases) than making products from virgin materials.
E-waste recycling is possible (and profitable) but it's important to make sure you're doing it right.
Reduce: Preventing pollution means that we have to examine many of our decisions, and question the reasoning behind them. Are you purchasing a new electronic device simply because it's new and better than what you currently have, or because you have a legitimate need for it in your life? Maybe your old flip phone does just fine, or maybe you can get along without a tablet. Sometimes it's necessary to make an exception because you're upgrading to a much more energy efficient model. Either way, thinking about your needs versus your wants will prevent you from creating e-waste in the first place.
Reuse: This should be a no-brainer, but... just because an electronic device is old and outdated, doesn't mean it's useless. If your old desktop computer, cell phone, or digital camera still works, consider donating it to someone who can't afford the latest technology. There are many organizations that facilitate the repair and distribution of used electronics, including:
- Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT): Silicon Valley StRUT is based in the Bay Area of California. Other StRUT, or similar, programs can be found inArizona, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oregon.
- Komputers 4 R Kids
- The Wireless Foundation
Recycle: The last choice on the list is recycling, but when it comes to e-waste, this is more complicated than just putting it in the recycling bin and setting it by the curb.
Depending on where you live and the amount of equipment you have, the best donation or recycling options may include: a county recycling drop-off center, repair shop, electronics recycling company, your local electronics retailer or the original manufacturer. Many communities offer computer and electronics collections as part of household hazardous waste collections, special events, or other arrangements. Search sites like 1800Recycling.com and Earth911.com to find suitable recycling centers in your area.
Make sure to ask about whether the electronics are recycled responsibly...especially if they plan to ship them overseas. Many e-waste recycling companies claim to be green, but they just sell the waste to processors in other countries with less stringent environmental policies.
If you don't have the time or local facilities available, think about using an online service to recycle your electronics. The companies below have certified sustainable recycling processes and might even pay you for your old gadgets!
- Gazelle provides a practical, responsible, rewarding way for consumers to get value for used electronics. Even if Gazelle can’t make you a cash offer for your device, they’ll still let you send it in for recycling at no charge.
- YouRenew is another company dedicated to taking the hassle out of selling or recycling your old devices: you don’t need to make an account, use your credit card, or pay for shipping. They’ve also partnered with Carbonfund.org and Americanforests.org to allow users to donate the price of their electronics towards domestic renewable energy or reforestation efforts.
Image Credit: Flickr - takomabibelot