But electronic devices make up 70 percent of the toxic waste in our landfills. Here’s eight ways to make sure your need for information doesn’t compromise the environment.
Keep your electronics out of landfills at all cost. If they still work, donate them to a second-hand store for reuse. If not, use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find a place to recycle them. It could be a community event, a retail store or even a manufacturer take back program. All of these are better than your trash can.
2. Provide a Second Life for Electronics
Recycling electronics is important, but only if they no longer work. Consider options that will reuse this technology again and keep it out of the waste stream.
- Trade in video games and movies for credit at stores that sell these items
- Donate your televisions and computer monitors to Goodwill; you can find second-hand store locations using Earth 911’s recycling locator
- Offer your old cell phone to a service provider so it can be refurbished
3. Reach for the Energy Stars
Electronics use up a lot of energy. ENERGY STAR products can cut energy use by 50 percent. If you’re shopping for new electronics, check for an ENERGY STAR label. This covers computers and monitors, televisions and even battery chargers.
Some other energy-related notes for when you’re purchasing:
- Notebook computers use less energy than desktops
- LCD TVs use less energy than plasma TVs
4. Use Rechargeable Batteries
You already charge batteries for cell phones and laptops. So why are you buying disposable AA and AAA batteries for other products? Rechargeable batteries last up to three years longer, and are accepted by more recyclers than other batteries.
5. Power Down Inactive Electronics
Why keep your TV on when no one is in the room? Booting up a computer may take a few minutes, but at the very least turn off the monitor when it’s not used. Also, unplug chargers that aren’t in use. They still use energy even if they aren’t charging anything.
6. Lay Off the Heavy Metal
Deep inside our electronic devices lie potentially hazardous materials like lead and mercury. These metals are not only a health hazard to you, but make proper disposal of electronics a necessity for the environment. Manufacturers are beginning to respond to this by producing devices with less/no hazardous materials, so look for these in the future.
7. Be Responsible With Packaging
Electronics are fragile, so they come with lots of packaging. Whether it’s cardboard boxes, Styrofoam or plastic bags, all this material should be recycled. Cardboard can be recycled with your paper, and all plastic should have a number on it (e.g. Styrofoam is #6) used for recycling. Use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find out where you can recycle all your packaging.
8. Spring for the Warranty
Warranties allow for your electronics to be fixed instead of replaced, meaning they stay out of the waste stream. They also encourage you to keep products for longer, which is better for the environment.
If you are looking for new electronics, consider an upgrade instead of a new purchase.
- Use the same case for your computer, with a new motherboard and more RAM
- Get a digital converter to modernize the picture of your analog TV
This story is part of Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas. Click here to see Earth 911’s “Green Eight” archive.