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Go Green

Living Green: A Guide to Recycling Electronics



It is important to reduce the amount of energy we consume when using electronics, but it is also important to properly dispose of our electronics when they are no longer usable. While most of us are well aware of the importance of recycling paper, plastic, and glass, our evolving technology has created a new category of trash: e-waste. Quite simply, it is comprised of old or unwanted technology and electronic items. This can range from computers to scanners, faxes, refrigerators, video game consoles, cables, and so on. The surprising truth is that many people simply aren’t quite sure what to do with these old products. It doesn’t seem right or it might not be convenient to throw these types of items in the trashcan. Instead, e-waste piles up in garages, attics, and closets. Even worse, some people discard them in general landfills.

Some of these items can easily be reused. If you have an old monitor lying around, it's easy to add another monitor in seconds to virtually any computer or laptop. That can give you extra screen space, and help you be more productive as well as helping the environment. You could also connect your laptop to an unused TV to give you a bigger screen. But, eventually old electronics need to be disposed of.

Recycle Keyboard

The problem with throwing them into landfills, or just piling them in your garage or attic is that over the years, electronic items will rust outdoors or break down. Once this happens, toxic chemicals contained inside escape into the earth and the air. Now imagine millions of electronics breaking down in landfills across the nation. Collectively, it creates a staggering level of pollution that affects all manner of life forms, including humans. Even worse, the chemicals that end up in the water cycle end up affecting agriculture and water-based eco-systems as well.

Even some products that seem green can be harmful if not disposed of properly. CFL light bulbs contain toxic chemicals that make it essential to recycle them.The domino effect impacts climate change and then continues to worsen. While these results sound terrible, it is more important to realize that they are very real and that they are, in fact, happening today. In order to put an end to this, it is vital for each of us to do our part. When it comes to dealing with e-waste, the answer is surprisingly simple.

Most electronic items can actually be recycled. There are centers in every state that accept various types of electronic items, parts, and appliances. Some even offer to pick it up as a free service, while others also offer a cash payment as a token incentive. Apart from impacting the environment in a very positive way, residents can also free up more space at home in mere minutes. When it is this easy to recycle e-waste, there really isn’t any excuse not to!

Do remember to check with your local recycling center as to which types of items they accept. Some areas have a separate recycling facility for major appliances, and another for computer-related technology. Many major stores such as Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell, play their role in being environmentally conscious by running e-waste recycling programs. Their websites usually indicate which items they accept and how people can drop them off. Similarly, many cell phone companies accept old cell phones and related accessories for recycling. On the other hand, if an electronic item is still in good working condition but it is unwanted, consider donating it. Organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army take in electronics and refurbish them if necessary. The products are then distributed to low-income groups or sold to them at affordable prices. Look through the list of resources below to start learning about how to safely discard your electronic items.

In addition to recycling, try to reuse or repurpose some of your electronics. If you have a TV you are replacing, look into reusing it by adding an HDMI splitter to run your TV signal to both. For an old laptop, repurpose it to be a home theater PC. Learn how to connect laptop to TV. Or turn the laptop into a personal server. Hide the server in your basement once it is setup by using bulk cat5e to run network cables and vga over cat5 to run video if ever necessary. Be creative and repurpose other equipment.