Can you guess what type of trash only accounts for two percent of the total in landfills, yet makes up about 70 percent of the toxic waste in America?
You might picture barrels of noxious goo or streams of factory runoff, but the answer hits surprisingly close to home—it’s discarded electronics! Also known as e-waste, this toxic trash leaks mercury, lead, and other hazardous materials into the environment. Luckily, we can reduce, repair, and recycle our way to a less toxic world:
Reduce: Have you ever camped out overnight to score the latest gadget? Electronics can have a powerful influence on people’s lives, so it’s especially important to shop mindfully and choose your devices carefully. You can make a difference by taking good care of the electronics you already own and extending their lifespans. That way, if they’re still working when you’re ready to replace, you can donate or sell the old devices. And, since a large portion of e-waste is actually perfectly usable parts, double-check before you chuck!
Repair: You may think your device is toast after it kisses the concrete, but common problems like shattered screens can often be fixed. Many web sites offer step-by-step instructions tailored to your particular device and offer inexpensive replacement materials. If you’re not comfortable with the DIY approach, there are many local repair shops who often offer free quotes.
Unfortunately, many times it’s simply not cost-effective or feasible to repair electronics. One fascinating viral video explores this concept and suggests an idea for Phonebloks, cell phones of the future made entirely of fully-replaceable, customizable, and upgradeable parts.
Recycle: Fortunately, the EPA has compiled a great resource for finding the right e-waste recycling program. If your device isn’t included, check with your municipality for more information on your local options. Recycling electronics can have a huge impact on the environment; if we could recycle one million laptops, we’d save enough energy to power 3,500 homes for a year!
What do you think of Phonebloks? Could this concept of fully-repairable electronics become a reality? Let us know by commenting below. DING! You are now free to be green!