With the ever-rising level of technology it’s easy to build up quite the stock of unused and unwanted electronics. The problem is that in most of these electronics, especially things like phones, computers, and cameras, there are really only one or two components that are considered “outdated”. It’s already bad enough that you may find yourself constantly upgrading to newer devices and other electronics to stay up to date, but what does that mean for our environment? And how can we dispose of unused electronics in greener ways?
Impact on the environment
The amount of fossil fuels and other resources it takes to manufacture computer chips is extremely high. Take a look at your computer or your smartphone. It may be nice and shiny, but it’s also made from several components of metals and plastics, to glass and other non-renewable sources. And while a lot of these gadgets boast that they were designed in America, that doesn’t mean that they were actually manufactured here. Most of our consumer electronics are assembled from components all around the world, assembled in other countries and shipped to us in cardboards and plastics for protection during transit. It’s a hard realization to accept that with the exponential growth of technology, by the time you get that new computer or phone into your hands, it is practically obsolete. That doesn’t mean that it’s not great, or that it can’t give you everything you want from it. Just that by the time something is built and shipped out to you, people are already working on how to improve upon these electronics and manufacture newer, better ones. You may find yourself with a room and several boxes of old monitors, keyboards, mp3’ players, phones, and so on. When you finally get around to cleaning all of these sad, lonely components out, what do you do with them? If you’re like most of us, you throw them out, where they end up in a giant compost pile.
But there are green solutions. For one, you don’t have to throw away your old electronics. There are recycling options for your old gadgets. Let’s look at some quick facts that the EPA has put out about recycling old electronics:
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
- For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
And before you even decide that your gadgets are too old to keep using, try upgrading the parts. Many smartphones and computers are fairly easy to upgrade when it comes to memory or processing speed, and you can always donate or recycle the parts you don’t need anymore. Trade-in and recycling options are becoming more and more prevalent too. Many phone companies offer trade-in programs for your old phones when you upgrade, and stores like offer a recycling program. If you’re looking to make a little bit of money to ease the dent in your wallet that your new electronic will make, you can also sell on online marketplaces as there are always people looking for cheaper alternatives to the big name retail stores. So next time you look at that overflowing box of your old electronics, consider going green with them whether you recycle, donate, or put back on the market.