Over the last several decades, electronics have become a cornerstone of modern living. With such widespread use of computers, mobile phones, televisions, and other devices, the waste management and recycling industries have had to handle an influx of e-waste. Though electronics provide many benefits to consumers, these products can be dangerous when sent to landfills because they are rife with toxic components such as lead and mercury.
As we all build up our collections of electronics, it is crucial that we look towards the end of each product’s life. We must make every effort to organize and dispose of our e-waste in ways that will be beneficial to all. There are a number of things that you can do to manage your e-waste, including the following:
Find a recycling program that fits your needs
Corporate and community recycling programs alike can assist you when you are looking to recycle various types of e-waste. You should start by familiarizing yourself with the options that are available locally. Many municipalities operate recycling facilities or other drop-off sites that focus solely on e-waste. Before taking your electronics to these locations, however, you should match them to your town’s online list of reputable e-waste disposal programs to ensure that your electronics go to the right place.
Otherwise, you should consider participating in one of the many trade-in programs that prominent electronics companies run. For example, with cell phones, you can participate in programs through providers such as T-Mobile, which will accept your used device once you upgrade to a new one and compensate you for your trade-in.
If you are looking to safely dispose of other electronics, then you should look into recycling initiatives at some of the most prominent tech giants. Sony, for example, operates a Takeback Program that accepts used televisions and batteries at numerous drop-off locations. Others, like Best Buy, will gladly recycle products from any electronics retailer.
Though you may no longer have any need for your e-waste, there are countless individuals throughout the community that can benefit from it. As such, you should consider donating your old devices instead of sending them to the landfill. There are a number of non-profits that will reuse your electronics. One such organization, InterConnection, repairs donated computers and gives them to those in need. The non-profit also regularly presents refurbished electronics to schools that use them to establish computer labs for students.
Computer retailer Dell also runs an initiative that allows you to responsibly dispose of your used computers. Called Dell Reconnect, this program encourages participants to bring their devices to any affiliate Goodwill location in the United States. The organization will either recycle these goods or repair them for reuse.
Upgrade before recycling
In some cases, your electronics may only need a few updates to feel like new. Before you decide between recycling or throwing them away, you should determine whether you could instead swap out any of their internal components. By updating your computer with more RAM, you can easily prolong its life. To this end, you should also look into enhancing your desktop devices with new graphics cards or storage capacity.
Don’t buy new
Though it is always exciting to buy the newest electronics, you should always think twice before disposing of your e-waste and bringing home a more recent model from the store. Instead, you should consider “precycling,” a waste management term that refers to the practice of avoiding products that will create unnecessary waste at the end of their lives.
When you are considering making a new electronics purchase, you should therefore determine whether you truly need the product or not. If you do, then you should do your research to find one that will last the longest amount of time. Otherwise, you should refrain from chasing the newest versions of your favorite devices. Instead, use your electronics for as long as you can before investing in new ones.
Sell old electronics
Another way to make sure that your e-waste finds new life is to sell it. Whether you are looking to get rid of old electronics at home or at the office, you can easily find a new home for them by putting them up for sale on websites such as eBay and Craigslist.
These marketplaces allow you to set the price of your gadgets, thereby affording you the opportunity to make more money than you would by simply trading them in. By selling your e-waste, you will also be providing electronics to those who need them more than you do.
Conduct regular e-waste audits
In order to stay on top of the e-waste that you produce, you must regularly organize the devices that you and your family use. By completing regular electronics audits, you will be able to glean which items you already have so that you do not make the mistake of buying more than one of the same thing. If you find pieces of e-waste during your review, then you should set aside a day for recycling. Better yet, make it a bi-annual practice to organize and dispose of your e-waste.
Erase your data
Whatever you decide to do with your old electronics, it is crucial that you remove any personal information that could fall into the wrong hands. You should start by backing up any potentially important data onto a separate hard drive or USB device. Then, you must begin the process of erasing information so that no one can recover it. With PCs, you will need special software to overwrite the data. For Apple users, this process only requires you to access the Disk Utility program.