Shiny new electronic devices are at the top of many of our lists during the holiday giving season. Who among us doesn’t love playing with a brand new gadget and reveling in all the exciting new features? But as most of our devices are retired well before their time (i.e., still in operable condition), and often tossed out along with the packaging their replacements came in, it’s no wonder that e-waste is the fastest growing segment of our nation’s trash.
Last month we asked you: How many PCs are thrown out each year in the U.S.?
A. 14 to 20 million B. 4 to 6 million C. 8 to 13 million D. 25 to 30 million
The correct answer is A. 14 to 20 million. We are sad (and surprised!) to report that none of our quiz respondents provided the correct answer. Better luck on the next quiz, friends!
Our society’s dependence on personal technology is easy to see – a five minute stroll down any busy street reveals countless pedestrians (and drivers) busily texting and talking on iPhones, Blackberries and Droids. But when the novelty wears off and newer devices begin to line store shelves and replace our “outdated” electronic devices, it can make you wonder: Where does all of this discarded technology end up?
Well, no huge shocker here: most of these devices quickly find their way to the nearest landfill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 13.6% of our 3.16 million tons of e-waste was recycled in 2008. And global numbers are even more staggering – according to the EPA anywhere from 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are generated worldwide every year.
Also troubling are the many hazardous materials found in our beloved consumer electronics. Lead, mercury and cadmium, even when present in small amounts, can release dangerous toxins into our air and water when disposed of improperly – like in a landfill.What’s worse is that all that waste could be put to much better use. If Americans recycled the more than 100 million cell phones no longer in use, enough energy would be saved to power nearly 200,000 households for one year!
The good news is it’s getting a whole lot easier to recycle used electronics. EarthShare partner, My Boneyard, specializes in collecting your e-waste, including cell phones, televisions, digital cameras, game systems, and more. Bonus: their online e-recycling portal will tell you what your item is worth! Then, if you choose to recycle your unwanted electronics through EarthShare’s My Boneyard online recycling portal, you can choose to donate any recycling reward to benefit the work of our 70+ member groups!
Another good idea: Before retiring your TV, computer, or cell phone, try extending its life by donating or selling your device to a school or someone in need. Chances are it’s still got a little life left in it!