Society's desire and need for new devices have created a giant environmental e-waste buildup that isn't going away soon.
This World Environment Day is the perfect chance to minimize landfill contaminants. In the past year, reusable shopping bags, paper straws, and refurbished electronics have seen a boom in popularity.
According to a study by the National Geographic, the average American household of four throws out 176 lbs of e-waste every year - that's the equivalent of 400 iPhones!
What is considered e-Waste?
E-Waste refers to old technology that consumers no longer use. This includes computers, TVs, headphones, monitors, printers, and appliances.
Increasing amounts of non-renewable resources such as plastic and metals (gold, silver, platinum, nickel, zinc, copper, and aluminum) are found inside the electronics we use every day and eventually throw away. Recycling these materials to make new electronics prevents many harmful products from winding up in already overflowing landfills (and could save you money in the end).
How Do We Minimize Our Amount of E-Waste?
Hope is not all lost with evolution. There are numerous ways to reduce your personal e-waste, some of which are obvious while others may be less so with the focus on recycling and repurposing.
Proper recycling is the most ethical end to a device no longer in use. Industry leaders continue to preach the most challenging task is actually getting people to part with their favorite tech and drop them off at designated recycling facilities.
"So many people have a false sense of security holding on to that outdated technology," said Robert Burns with New York-based electronics recycler Sunnking. "The thought is that one day they'll need a backup device, however, they fail to realize the batteries that eventually die out or the software that's no longer supported instead renders them useless or a safety hazard."
Sell or Give Away Your Unwanted Electronics
One of the more appealing options to manage your unwanted devices is to find them a new home. Craigslist and eBay are possible options if you're comfortable with doing more work in exchange for more profit. A simpler solution is to sell your device to online purchasing companies like CoronaBuyBack.com.
"We've seen a huge spike in sales with more people staying at home and working from home," said Adam Shine, Vice President of CoronaBuyBack.com. "We think people like the aspect of easily getting a quote online for their device, safely shipping it and quickly getting their money from similar services."
Repair Old or Buy Refurbished Devices
Everybody loves unboxing a new device, but sometimes the old ones just need a little attention to get back up and running at full strength. Most electronics can usually be repaired and updated with minimal expertise. Water damage and cracked screens are usually the culprits, but tech repair staff say hope is not lost.
"A lot of customers think damage like this is permanent but we fix it all the time," said Adam Potter, manager of eCaboose, a refurbished electronics retailer. "In many instances, we're able to physically refurbish and reenergize these devices [with software updates] back to 'like-new' and sell them to customers for a lot cheaper than 'new'."
Repurpose Your Old Smartphone
If you're wanting to keep your device, there's always another use for it at home! Perhaps a dedicated music player for your car? Using old phones as baby monitors or dedicated smart speakers could also extend their life. For many parents handing them down to children make the perfect kid-friendly gift. It only takes minutes to wipe your data and set up devices to have endless possibilities, with a little creativity.