Electronic waste is a major problem that affects both the environment and human health. E-waste is an umbrella term for all electronics that are no longer usable because they are broken or obsolete.
When we buy new technology, old tech ends up in landfills where it leaches toxic chemicals into the soil and water supply. In fact, e-waste constitutes about 70% of the overall toxic waste in the US.
This makes reducing e-waste an important step in saving our environment. Below are seven ways you can reduce your e-waste and help save the planet. But first, what’s e-waste?
What Is E-Waste?
The word ‘waste’ is often used to describe something that has been discarded or something that is no longer wanted. In the electronics industry, however, waste means anything that cannot be reused. Electronic waste refers to items such as smartphones, computers, and televisions that are broken or have been abandoned and replaced with a newer device.
In 2019 it was estimated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that about 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide and most of this goes into landfills without any treatment at all.
This is bad for our environment.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably already asking yourself what you can do about this. You can help reduce the world’s e-waste problem by taking a few simple steps. Let’s explore some below.
7 Best Ways to Reduce Your E-Waste
Follow this simple guide to reduce your e-waste.
1. Trade-In Old Devices for Credit at Amazon.com
It can be argued that more electronics are sold on Amazon.com than on any other platform in the world. It is no surprise then that the platform allows customers to trade-in eligible electronics including cell phones, video games, et cetera, in exchange for gift cards through its Amazon Trade-in Program.
The e-commerce giant resells some of these electronics as used devices and recycles those that don’t qualify for resale through its network of certified recyclers.
Other brands like Best Buy, Walmart, Apple, and Samsung also have their own trade-in programs where users are rewarded with store credits for trading in old devices.
You can trade in your old electronics for gift cards on any of these platforms and get rewarded for looking out for the environment.
2. Repair Broken Electronics
It can be tempting sometimes to get an entirely new replacement for a broken electronic, but doing that increases your e-waste. Another nifty way to reduce your electronic waste is to actually repair your broken devices.
These could range from replacing cracked screens to sometimes just purchasing new covers to re-energize the look of your device. You can also learn how to handle basic device fixes for free online on iFixit.com
Repairing broken electronics allows you to use them for longer, eliminating the need to get another device which could lead to the abandonment of the old one.
3. Sell Electronics You No Longer Need
It’s sometimes easy to think that nobody would want your old electronics. But a look at eBay, Offerup, and Letgo will reveal the opposite. They’re people who’d actually buy your old devices.
Some people buy these devices because they can’t afford newer ones and by putting up yours for sale, at an affordable rate, of course, you’ll be helping them. You can find buyers for your old devices by putting them up for sale on the platforms listed above.
This option has some advantages over the trade-in options because by putting the device up for sale yourself, you get to control the price as opposed to accepting whatever your trade-in partner believes it is worth.
4. Donate Old Devices to Local Charities
Another great way to reduce your e-waste is to donate your old devices to local non-profits. Many goodwill organizations may want your old electronics. If you’re in the US you can visit www.cristina.org to find a list of local organizations in need of specific electronics via a zipcode search.
If you’re not in the US, you could also find non-profits in need of electronics in your region by running a search on Google.
Apart from the obvious benefit of being part of an impactful movement, donating your old electronics to non-profits could also provide you with tax benefits, if done the right way.
5. Repurpose Your Old Devices
Often when we abandon old smartphones, it’s because we’ve got a replacement. Not necessarily because they’re broken or damaged. But by repurposing, you can transform your old smartphone into a device with different functionality.
An example of this is the Samsung upcycling at home program. Samsung, in April 2021, expanded its upcycling program to enable users to convert their old Galaxy phones into smart home devices.
Only a few Galaxy devices are currently eligible for the upcycling at home program but Samsung promised to support more devices in the future.
Repurposing your old device reduces your e-waste and saves you money.
6. Trade-In Old Devices for Money
Are you finding it hard to get someone to buy your old device? Well, worry no more. Trade-in platforms like BuyBackWorld and Decluttr offer customers the option of receiving payments directly into their bank or Paypal accounts for devices they trade-in.
This option allows you more flexibility than the option of trading in your device for store credit, as you won’t be confined to spending your money on a particular store.
7. Recycle Damaged Electronics
If you have broken electronics that you can’t sell or trade in, you could still do the earth a favor by shipping off your damaged electronics to the nearest recycling center.
Recycling your e-waste is important, as many experts believe that the best way to reduce e-waste is by getting old devices out of people’s drawers and garages and into designated recycling centers.
The best thing about recycling your damaged electronics is that you’d sometimes get financial compensation. But even if you don’t, that you’re contributing your quota to saving the environment is a good enough reward. You can find recycling centers close to you by searching for “e-stewards” nearby.
Here’s Why Reducing E-Waste Should Be a Priority for You
E-wastes contain toxic materials that, if not disposed of properly, can be dangerous to the air, soil, water, and even human health.
Heavy metals from e-waste dumped in landfills contaminate the soil, affecting food supply. These heavy metals further leak through the soil into groundwater and eventually into ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. Which could make clean water hard to find in rural communities close to landfill sites.
Aside from the health impact stated above, continuous piling of e-waste is unsustainable and expensive in the long run. The news about the global chip shortage which made certain devices unavailable for purchase and doubled the cost of some is one example of what could happen if we don’t reduce our e-waste.
By effectively managing our e-waste, we’ll reduce the demand for new chips and thus eliminate the probability of another chip shortage soon.
Image Credit: Patrickewastenz/Wiki Commons Library
Check out these fun Earth Day project ideas for DIY electronics recycling. Turn your old devices and gadgets into something useful!
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