For some of us, it doesn’t seem like so long ago that certain electronic items were fairly uncommon. There was a time when not everyone had cell phones, for example. As strange as it may seem to some, not every home had a computer, DVD or Blu-Ray player, or gaming console.
Today, however, electronic devices are part and parcel of the average person’s daily life. Not only do we own more electronics, we are replacing or upgrading them more often as well, and not even necessarily because they are breaking down, but because we want the newest, fanciest gadgets.
As a result, we are producing a large amount of electronic waste—or e-waste—and even more than regular waste, this is proving to be unhealthy for our environment.
Most of us are already aware of the fact that simply tossing our old, out-of-date, broken, or simply unwanted electronics into the trash is not the proper means of disposal. Unfortunately, in many cases that doesn’t stop us from doing it. This isn’t simple disregard for the environment; while most of us may be aware of how not to dispose of these items, fewer among us know the right way to do so. As a result, everything from TVs to old phones, DVD players to electronic games end up in landfills, where they don’t belong and where they can prove dangerous to the environment.
Modern landfills are designed in such a way as to better protect our environment, but there still remains the possibility of contamination escaping, so our best approach is to simply avoid putting certain things in there whenever possible.
Here are some options to consider in order to dispose of e-waste correctly, while taking better care of the environment.
Sell Them to a Pawn Shop
You may be able to pick up a few bucks for your old electronics by selling them to a pawn shop, though this may not be the best option, depending on the condition of the goods. Most pawn shops will not want to buy your old items if they are not in good shape and proper working order with all their parts. The age and size of the item may have an impact as well and given that most pawn shops are familiar with what is likely to sell in their area, you may need to try several before you find on that is willing to buy anything from you.
Hold a Garage Sale
Still a popular choice when looking to dispose of unwanted items, garage sales may be a desirable way to dispose of your electronics, especially if they are larger items that the buyer will pick up directly from your home, conveniently saving you the need to move them yourself.
If you are only disposing of a few items, or if you don’t wish to invest the time required to sell them, you may even be able to bring them to another local garage sale and see if they are willing to sell them for a commission.
If you are not worried about recouping some of the cost of your old items, or if you simply don’t want to deal with attempting to sell them, you can always consider donating them. Many charities and thrift shops are happy to accept old, still-working electronics as donations. They can then be distributed to local people who are not able to buy new items, and some may even find their way into schools.
Like pawn shops, however, they may not be willing to accept items of a certain age or size. It is always best to reach out to them first to see if they have any particular requirements.
Recycle, Reuse, and Re-purpose
If you can reuse or re-purpose your e-waste, that is possibly the best. Perhaps you can use certain components of an item in a new capacity, or even use parts of one broken item to repair a second one. If not, recycling will divert a great deal of it from landfills.
Each city and town have its own regulations governing what items you are able to recycle, and where to bring them to dispose of them. You should contact your local government services or check their website for all relevant details. It may be that you will need to drop off your e-waste at a distant location, in which case it will likely prove easier for you to contact a junk removal service.
Minimizing and managing e-waste is important for the protection of the environment. The manufacture of these goods and the rare materials that go into them represent a great deal of embodied energy. By minimizing your e-waste, you are helping to conserve resources while simultaneously reducing the amount of energy taken from the earth.
As one example, let’s consider cell phones. By reusing the plastics and precious metals found in discarded cell phones in place of mining resources to make new ones, we can save energy equivalent to what is used to power 24,000 US homes for an entire year! The average American home has more than 24 electronic devices and in 2014 (later data is not available) the US generated 11.7 million tons of e-waste. According to the EPA, the e-waste recycling rate is only 29 percent.
By being more conscientious with your e-waste, you can find multiple ways to dispose of old, unwanted electronic devices while knowing that you are doing your part to combat the growing problem of e-waste without contributing to environmental damage or potential health risks to others.