Image by U.S. Army Environmental Command / Creative Commons
To many, recycling e-waste ranks right up there with going to the dentist and protecting your compost pile from marauding wildlife. But leaving a 36-inch TV on the curb really is not the best way to ensure it’s going to find a safe afterlife. E-waste is defined as televisions, computers, laptops, printers, cables, VCRs, cell phones, copiers, fax machines, stereos, and electronic games. If this goes into a landfill, its toxic component goes into our water table. In many states, such as California, it is illegal to place your e-waste in with the regular trash. So how to ensure our electronics are being disposed of in a responsible manner?
You can sell your electronics to recyclers via the web. Sites such as Gazelle.com will buy your old electronics off you, compensating you by Paypal. Gazelle allows you to donate your proceeds to charity. Other companies doing similar work are Nextworth.com, which allows you to recycle your electronics for cash. YouRenew.com does the same for your “old” iPods, mp3 player and more.
But what if your product is broken or otherwise unusable? You can find a responsible recycler from e-Stewards who will make sure it is disposed without harm to developing nations. Sometimes, old products are shipped to developing nations, where they are dismantled without concern for workers and communities absorbing the toxic materials from the products. This leads to a chain of waste containing PVCs, lead, mercury, and solvents, all which poison communities, workers, and ultimately, the planet.
Finally, feeling altruistic? You can always drop your e-waste at your area Best Buy. The giant chain of electronic stores offers up a substantial electronics recycling program at store locations through a program of responsible recycling. Give them your tired, your poor, your huddled 2003 iPods, yearning to breathe free. Best Buy will take them. Here’s a complete list of what Best Buy will accept into their e-waste program.
Want to learn more about e-waste? Check out Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Electronics”. In this clip, Leonard explains the “design for the dump,” or when companies design our electronics to be thrown away quickly into our landfills.
Many thanks to Katherine Butler (whose regular articles and posts can be found on MNN, EcoSalon, and 89.3KPCC) for this timely guest post. With the holidays approaching and the possibility that Santa, or maybe a loved one, will bring you one or more of the latest electronic gadgets, now is the perfect time to recycle your existing e-waste.