Saturday, May 28, 2011

Electronic Waste

As college students are packing up to leave, piles of e-waste are growing larger and larger, especially at SCU. E-waste is one of those things that most people do not think about. Typically people toss it into the trashcan and it ends up in a landfill, or they take it to a recycling center and believe that it will be taken care of responsibly.

Do you know where your e-waste is going? 70 percent of computers in the U.S. end up in landfills. Of the 30 percent that are "recycled," 50-80 percent end up exported to other countries, including India, China, and Ghana. (According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition).

Have you ever considered how many products you have that will become e-waste? Every single item that runs on electricity (either plugs into an electrical outlet or runs on a battery) becomes e-waste when you dispose of it. This includes computers, televisions, cameras, cell phones, iPods, remote controls, headphones, gaming consoles, watches, blenders, and countless other devices. 

Electronic waste is the fastest growing municipal waste as well as one of the most dangerous because of the toxic materials inside of them. These materials are not only harmful to communities near landfills where some of the electronics end up, but also the communities around the world where the e-waste is exported and primitively "recycled."

Check out this e-waste infograph from wellhome:

After considering the amount of e-waste you inevitably create I encourage you to consider all of the electronics you own. Decide if all of the electronic items you own are necessary, or if you could live without them. If something breaks, do not only research a responsible recycling facility that will protect its workers and not export the materials, but also question if you really need to replace it. Treat your items well and make sure they last as long as possible. 

Consider getting something fixed before you completely replace it. Just because your cell phone contract allows you to get a new phone every year or every two years does not mean that you have to. Resist the temptation to buy the latest and greatest things when the items you have still work well. If you are looking for a responsible recycler near you check out SVTC or e-stewards recyclers

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