Photo by Floyd Wilde from Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Reducing and Recycling E-Waste During the Holidays

Green Tips | December 3, 2020

The holidays are here, and that means that many of us will be pouncing on holiday electronics deals. Many of these new devices will be replacing older devices, creating a massive amount of e-waste. It is estimated that in 2016 alone, the United States accumulated a staggering 6.9 million tons of e-waste. Even worse is that e-waste is incredibly toxic, since it includes mercury and lead, among a host of other dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can have devastating effects on our health and the environment if e-waste is improperly disposed of. From landfills, e-waste toxins can enter the groundwater, pollute aquifers, and enter the food chain. Additionally, when burned, some e-waste can release carcinogenic dioxins into the air. Because of these toxins, it is especially important that we reduce and correctly dispose of electronic waste. For tips on how to do so, check out this week’s Green Tips below. 

Keep What You Already Have

You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” It applies to electronics just as anything else in life. The best way to reduce electronic waste is not to generate it in the first place. If your old television still works, take a pause before buying a new one. Likewise, if your phone is still getting software updates and can hold a charge, consider the true need for a new phone before buying. Keeping your older functioning electronics benefits both the environment and your wallet.

Buy Refurbished Electronics

While some people may get queasy at the thought of buying refurbished electronics, fearing that they will malfunction, it may be helpful to know that when purchased from a reputable seller, refurbished devices will work just as well as new ones. Buying refurbished from these reputable sellers can sometimes net you a discount of over 50%. Another example of how eco-friendly practices with your electronics can save you considerable amounts of money. From an environmental perspective, each refurbished device represents one piece of electronics kept out of an e-waste bin, or worse, a landfill.

Get Broken Electronics Repaired when Economically Viable

Often, especially with expensive devices such as laptops, getting your broken electronics repaired can be cheaper than buying a replacement. Many manufacturers, such as Dell, Samsung, and Apple, offer repair programs. Additionally, don’t be afraid to pursue third-party repair from a reputable source, because a third party repair can fix some issues that the manufacturer themselves will say they cannot.

Properly Recycle Your E-Waste

Inevitably, all electronic devices will stop working. That’s why it is always smart to back up the information you have stored on them. When the time comes to lay your old device to rest, make sure to dispose of it properly. Because of the dangerous nature of e-waste, New York State has laws regarding its disposal. In New York State, e-waste must be disposed of through either a Manufacturer’s Takeback Program or at an e-waste Collection Site. If you plan on using a collection site, make sure you call ahead of time to ensure that they will accept your specific products. New York State has created a list of tech companies and how to contact their electronic waste collection programs. Be sure to follow the instructions that the company provides. There’s also an interactive map of disposal sites within New York City.

Thank you for reading this week’s Green Tips! 

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