Did you know Americans dump over $60 million in gold and silver every year? Sixty million dollars of gold and silver laying waste in our landfills. That doesn’t include the copper, palladium and other precious metals also used in manufacturing our electronic gadgets.¹
That’s the economic story. E-waste also impacts our health. The e-waste in our landfills equals 70% of all toxic waste. The lead alone can cause damage to the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, the blood, and the kidneys that filter the blood.
In South Carolina, and most other states, it’s illegal to “knowingly place or discard a computer, computer monitor, printer or television in any waste-stream that is to be disposed of in a solid waste landfill.”
What’s a body to do? There is good news.
Recycling electronics is easier today, with manufacturers, big box stores, and government agencies providing customer-friendly services for collecting e-waste. A few examples²:
- Best Buy’s Greener Together™ program will take most electronics, regardless of brand or where it was purchased. There is a $10 fee for certain large items, and a limit of 3 items per customer per day.
- Your cell phone and computer manufacturer will also arrange for e-cycling. The EPA’s E-cycling site maintains a list of manufacturers.
- Office Depot and Staples both have recycling programs.
- Office Depot has a small fee upfront: you must purchase a box ($5-$15 depending on the size), but you can fill the box to the top. What happens to your old devices? Watch this brief video from Office Depot about their recycling centers.
- Staples will take your gadgets for free, but there may be a $10 charge for larger items. Staples also has a tech trade-in program, if you’re planning to buy new devices.
- To find a city or county e-waste recycling facility near you, take a look at Earth911. In South Carolina, check out DHEC’s recycling program site.
- If you’d like to try to recoup some of the cost of your gadget, there are websites that will pay for your devices. They will refurbish the device for resale, or dispose of it responsibly.
Reuse & Reduce
Consider donating your cell phone to groups like Cell Phones for Soldiers, your local women’s shelter, or other local organizations. Sistercare, a women’s shelter in Columbia, SC, participates in a cell phone recycling program.
Reduce the load on the power grid. Avoid phantom load or vampire power by turning off and unplugging any devices not in use. Check out the Vampire Power Calculator to learn how much energy devices in your home that are turned off use annually.
Every Day is Earth Day
Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. In the 44 years since, we have witnessed horrific oil and chemical spills, nuclear leaks (both man-made and caused by natural disasters), air pollution from industry, and perhaps even climate change. We have learned something from each catastrophe, and have been affected by the heroic efforts of volunteers and corporations who have been involved in cleaning up the mess.
Lady Bird Johnson said, “The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”
Today, why not make a commitment to introduce one recycling, reusing or reducing practice into your home or office? It could be something simple, like deciding to collect your spent batteries over time, and then taking them to a battery recycle location. Or, try something a little more complex, that involves the whole family, like starting a kitchen compost project.
What will you do to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comments.
² Hat tip to Lifehacker
~Catherine Buck Morgan
Corporate Media Specialist, DPP