Any piece of electronics that's broken or obsolete, or that you're just not using anymore, is e-waste. For decades, these items have ended up in our landfills. However, because we don't have millions of Wall-E's to clean up after us, it's wise to properly dispose of electronics.
The unnecessary build-up of electronic devices in American landfills can even cause environmental problems and health hazards. Studies have shown that lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals can seep into our soil and water supply from the hundreds of thousands of computers and cell phones chucked into the trash every day. Despite these hazards, 75% of all e-waste still ends up in landfills.
Fortunately, it's simple to take care of your old laptop, boombox or eight-track stereo without inconvenience. Follow the steps below and take the pledge to recycle your e-waste so our environment stays clean.
Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
I pledge to do my part to limit electronic waste and its negative impact on the environment and human health. Here are some simple steps to make that happen:
1) If the product is still functional, consider donating it before recycling, and especially before throwing it in the garbage.
2) If the product is obsolete or broken, search e-Stewards for a list of recyclers. (Note: your employer may already have a program for recycling electronics.)
3) Buy products that are more environmentally-friendly to begin with. See a list of EPEAT-registered electronics.
4) Check out the National Center for Electronics Recycling to see the latest e-waste laws nationwide and to find a recycling specialist near you.