aNewDomain.net — Laptops, tablets, cell phones, phablets — in short, all electronic devices — have transformed ordinary humans into denizens of Tomorrowland. When you’re on the subway and monitoring your stock portfolio, having a video conversation with a coworker, or on the cusp of besting your top score on Bejeweled, you are using technology that pushes you toward the future.
But what happens when the future becomes the past? Technology is moving at a rapid rate these days and your mobile devices and game consoles are being replaced with newer and more powerful models constantly. When you upgrade your electronic toys, what should you do with your dusty antiques from last year?
Of all the waste we produce, electronic consumer products are arguably the most-harmful to the environment. For example, more than 135 million mobile phones are thrown away every year. These phones often contain toxins like plastic, lead, zinc, and flame-retardant chemicals that are ecologically worrisome. When these phones pile up at a municipal landfill, their toxins leach into nearby soil and water supplies compromising safety. Be kind to the earth when it’s time to upgrade your mobile device. Take your old phone to a reputable recycling agent.
It may seem that more electronics are being recycled but the sad fact is that less than 20 percent of e-waste is recycled. People often don’t think about what happens to their electronics once they get dumped in the trashcan. Recycling culture began in 1970 when the first Earth Day was inaugurated. Since that time, the world has figured out creative ways to repurpose paper, plastic, and glass. Now that we’re all living in the future, it’s time to recalibrate our efforts toward e-waste.
But how do we do it? How do we e-cycle and save the environment at the same time? Cell phones, computers, gaming consoles, and all other electronic devices can easily be upgraded, refurbished, resold, and donated. Schools, especially, are always looking for ways to add technology to the classroom. And with tighter and tighter budgets, they need all the help they can get. Organizations like the Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) and Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT) do an excellent job of taking your refuse, upgrading it, and redistributing it to needy schools (and charities).
The average U.S. household contains 24 electronic products, and the lifespan of these devices ranges anywhere from 2-7 years. Computers and cell phones especially have the shortest consumer buying cycles. Thankfully, there are plenty of recycling options available. Many manufacturers and retail outlets, for example, offer some form of buy-back program. Online resources such as ecyclingcentral.com and earth911.com can always help point you in the right direction if you’re not sure.
We are all living in a golden age of technology. Enjoy it and remember to e-cycle when you and your devices part ways.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons
Based in San Francisco, Eric Searleman has worked as a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor, a comic book artist, and a rock star (confirmation required). Follow him at @SuperheroNovels or Eric Searleman on Google+.Tags: Business,Gadgets & Devices,Green,Technology