It seems like another new phone is introduced everyday which means about 155 million cell phones are thrown in the trash each year. Since we live in such a technology driven world, e-waste or electronic waste has increased dramatically over the past decade. Most electronics like TVs, phones and computers contain lead, mercury, cadmium and other potentially harmful chemicals that contaminate the environment. So how can you help?
Most state and local governments have passed laws to make it illegal to throw away electronics. But despite what the laws say, Americans produce 3 million tons per year of e-waste. The easiest way to recycle your old electronics is to pass it along to a friend or family member. If there’s no one you know that could use your old electronics, try contacting a charity. Cell Phones for Soldiers allows you to easily donate your old handset to a member of the military. You can also sell old phones to websites like Flipswap, which then markets them overseas.
If you can’t give away your old computers and cell phones, you can recycle them. It’s first worth checking out whether your original retailer will accept the product for free recycling. Dell offers free recycling with dropboxes at various Goodwill locations. Apple will give you a gift card if your old iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC is worth anything or you can bring your old iPod to an Apple store and get 10% off a new one. Staples allows you to bring in virtually any old electronics for recycling—even products that weren’t bought from Staples.
If you don’t have any luck with retailers you can contact a recycling company directly. A non-government organization called the Basel Action Network, which works with e-waste, has a list of e-stewards, recycling companies that will responsibly dispose of old electronics.
Don’t forget to erase all data from your electronics before sending them out, especially computers. There are software programs that can ensure you that the data is permanently erased. You can also check with place you’re recycling with to make sure they have this option as well.