By Arami Matevosyan
Many feel that technology is an underlining necessity of our lives. Though we may not like to admit it, we have become dependent on our electronic devices for our work, to stay in communication with each other, and even to relax and recuperate (nothing like curling up with tea and a nice Nook or Kindle). But the problem is not so much accepting our technological state as it is understanding what happens when we upgrade it. How many phones have you used in your lifetime? How many batteries, TVs, or computers? What happens to our “junk” when we upgrade?
The majority of people do not know how to handle their e-waste properly and this is becoming a problem. While e-cycling exists (the electronic counterpart to recycling), most people do not utilize it or even know about it. Instead, people throw their electronics in the trash and that trash gets collected and shipped out to other countries, like Ghana, where it cumulates into a wasteland. To learn more about the realities of where your e-waste goes, check out this video, Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground.
In an effort to combat this problem, the U.S. and China are partnering in a Green Electronics Competition, from now until May 31st, to encourage innovative ideas in preventing the production of electronic waste. This includes repurposing or repairing electronics, creating sustainable products out of used electronic products, or even creating artwork with them. Ideas can be submitted to the competition at instructables.com.
If partaking in the Green Electronics Competition seems a bit much for you, here are some ways you can e-cycle your electronics:
Cellphones and Mobile Devices
EcoATMs are kiosks that pay a stipend for your small electronic devices (much like bottle recycling centers). These kiosks can be found in shopping centers or any of the various locations found on ecoatm.com. If you cannot find an ecoATM near your locality, visit your cellular dealership. More often than not, the providers will offer a recycling program within their stores, (though they may not compensate you for it).
Batteries can come as dry cell (your typical alkaline, carbon zinc, and lithium batteries) as well as wet cell (these are typically car, boat, or motorcycle batteries). Many municipalities offer boxes for dry cell battery collection in publics, such as libraries, college campuses, community centers, and city halls. Consumer electronic stores tend to also have kiosks that will allow you to drop off your used batteries. For wet cell batteries, go to your automotive stores — they will either collect it for you or suggest a location that collects wet cells.
Computers and Laptops
Research or contact the manufacturers of your laptops and computers to find out what options they offer for recycling, such as drop-off locations or mail-in recycling. Manufacturers can usually provide information on recycling their electronic products, but in the case they can not, contacting your city or county for waste drop-off locations or recycling organizations is another option.