As much as we love our gadgets, their production and disposal are a growing harm to the environment and our health. The toxic pollution created by discarded cell phones, televisions, ink cartridges, stereos and batteries harms people, especially in poor communities. But there are things we can do as consumers and citizens to address this problem:
Use products for their lifespan. We regularly discard perfectly functional products because a newer model hits the shelves. This mindset is gobbling up resources around the world. Think before you buy.
Buy refurbished. Previously owned, good-as-new phones, computers, and cameras save resources, and are less expensive than new products. Look for manufactured-certified refurbished products.
Recycle responsibly. Recycling electronics is important, but the industry is not well-monitored. Old electronics are often exported to poor countries where they poison local communities. Look for e-Stewards certification to ensure your products are recycled responsibly. Manufacturers often have takeback programs as well.
Recycle or refill empty ink cartridges. Getting your cartridges refilled can save you a lot of money, as this usually costs about half the price of a new cartridge. Many stores take in empty cartridges to recycle.
Donate or sell. Give your old computers, stereos and televisions a new home. Craigslist, Freecycle and community listservs are great places to sell or donate your used electronics. Be sure to delete sensitive data before donating.
Repair instead of replace. Repair broken parts of electronic devices as often as possible instead of replacing the item all together. Companies like Fairphone are making "modular" products that are easier to repair. Ask your favorite companies to fight planned obsolescence.
Recycle at work. EarthShare has teamed up with Think Recycle to help your employer establish a company e-recycling program. Contact us today to find out how to get started!