One of our responsibilities as human beings is to take care of the planet we live on. We are taught from a young age the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. While we are aware of a large majority of what we should recycle and what we throw in the waste to get sent to a landfill, there may be one thing we are missing. Electronics. We live in a time where our world is very technologically heavy and therefore plenty of waste will come along with it.
But what exactly are we supposed to do with that waste?
There are many dangers associated with the improper disposal of e-waste. E-waste, short for electronic waste, refers to any refuse created by electronic devices and components. Televisions, cell phones, old computers and monitors, keyboards, printers, VCR’s and the like are common electronic products.
It is important to learn how to properly reduce, reuse, and recycle because many of these products can contain valuable and recoverable materials. Some materials that may be able to be recovered can help conserve natural resources. Recoverable items include materials such as aluminum, copper, gold, silver, plastics, and ferrous metals.
E-waste also contains toxic and hazardous materials including mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, chromium, and chemical flame retardants. When inside of our devices and safely encased, these dangers aren’t generally problematic. The issue occurs when these devices break or are considered outdated and they tossed into the trash to be sent to the landfill. Once there, this waste can leak and contaminate the surrounding environment. Over time these harmful toxins can get into our water systems and soil.
Knowing all of that is just the first step. The next step learning what exactly we are supposed to do with old electronics. We can look to our three R’s for that answer.
Consider this when purchasing an electronic, do we REALLY need the latest gadget? Thinking carefully about what we really need vs want will help reduce the amount of electronics we consume. Also, taking care of our electronics is another way we can reduce waste. Buy a case, have an item repaired instead of tossing it, or consider upgrading parts instead of an entire item when possible.
Electronics that are still functioning can be donated or sold to someone else who can still use it. There are many organizations such as schools, charities, and senior homes that are often taking donations.
For products that cannot be repaired or donated recycling them is key to reducing e-waste. Recycling e-waste helps conserve natural resources by recovering some of the valuable materials that are a part of our electronic devices. It also protects our surroundings by getting those harmful chemicals disposed of properly and out of our environment. Recycling electronics also creates jobs for professional recyclers and those who refurbish items. Ultimately we are saving landfill space by learning the proper way to dispose of our items.
Thankfully we have the opportunity now to learn about the proper waste and how we can take care of and prolong the life of our planet and to protect the resources we so desperately need. It make take a little bit of extra time to ensure that our items are taken care of the right way, but the reward is greater.
If there are any questions about proper electronic waste disposal or if you are unsure of where to donate please contact us for more information.