E-waste makes up a comparatively small portion of what’s in our landfills, but the chemicals and toxins released by improper disposal of these devices are far more significant. Here are five ways to stop contributing to electronic waste in landfills today.
Recycle (or Donate) What You’ve Got
As a rule, the first step is always to find ways to recycle unwanted goods, and electronics are no exception. Recycling electronics has gotten easier in the past decade as big-box stores from Best Buy to Target have started e-waste recycling programs that are as easy as dropping the item in a bin and moving on.
You also have the option to donate your electronics, but always call ahead. Not every school or charity wants a questionable laptop from 2009.
Consider Repairing Instead of Replacing
Another way to start reducing e-waste is to get more familiar with your electronics and consider repairing them yourself. While there is a learning curve, opting to spend time with your broken device and put in the effort to fix it doesn’t just save you money; it stops more waste from ending up in the landfill. Most of us haven’t seen the inside of our TV, but most TV issues are fixable with some elbow grease! You can even repair old printers, as frustrating as they are, and stop your trips to Kinko’s.
Reconsider Before Buying
One of the earliest steps in e-waste’s life cycle is your decision to purchase the device. New phones are a particularly rampant part of the e-waste process, as the new camera or faster speed of next year’s phone is just appealing enough to convince us to toss our current one. Always consider if what you’re buying will last. Sometimes, you’ll find that a replacement can wait another year.
Get Organized at Home
We’ve all seen it: a miscellaneous box of cords and gadget accessories that’s followed us from move to move because we can’t risk throwing away an important part. Take the time to sit down and organize these cords (among other tech collections) to better understand your home electronics inventory. Knowing what you have prevents unnecessary purchases and keeps you from contributing to the e-waste cycle.
Look for Opportunities in Your Community
Finally, look for ways to take your eco-friendly efforts outside the walls of your house. Schools and colleges often host cell phone drives that collect old phones and either recycle them as a group or donate them to people in need. You can even choose to host electronic recycling drives with your organization or business and spread awareness of the e-waste issue one old gadget at a time.
While these aren’t the only ways to stop contributing to electronic waste in landfills, they’re among the most impactful choices you can make as an individual. Remember that accountability and impact extend to communities, businesses, and leadership as well.