If you paused to think about the number and type of electronics you depend on every day, you’d probably be overwhelmed. Of course, electronics aren’t a new development. They were already an integral component of modern living by the 80s. However, the mainstreaming of computers and the ubiquity of the internet has resulted in billions of electronic devices in homes and offices around the world.
Unfortunately, no device is useful indefinitely. At some point, you’ll need to replace it with a newer one. But what happens to the old one you no longer need? You could go the easy way and simply toss it in the trash. All this will do though is contribute to the electronic waste increasingly dominating landfills and incinerators around the world.
Or you could get creative and find a way to reuse or recycle it. We look at how you can do that.
Are all unused electronics in your home really obsolete? That’s not always the case. Sometimes, it comes down to poorly organized, misplaced or even forgotten items. Take an example of moving house. As you leave your current apartment, you are going to pack some of your stuff in boxes. Once you get to your new home, you’ll probably not unpack everything at one go. Eventually some boxes stay for months or more unopened.
You even forget what is inside the boxes sand that could include electronics. So as you consider buying a new electronic chances are you already have what you need somewhere in the house but just don’t realize it. The first step to e-waste management is avoiding e-waste in the first place. Take time to organize your home and make sure you have a clear picture of the electronics you own.
2. Reduced Consumption
Thanks to aggressive advertising and subsequent anticipation that meets the launch of the latest mobile phone, laptop or television, it’s tempting to reach for your wallet and upgrade. However, don’t believe the hype. All it does is co-opt you into the kind of consumption that unnecessarily increases the world’s electronic waste.
Before you make any purchase, take a step back and think about whether you really need it. Phone purchases can be particularly wasteful. Your current phone could be barely a year old, in good working condition and has all the functionality you need. Buying a new one would be unhelpful.
Perhaps all you need to do is perform a software upgrade and your current device won’t be much different from the latest model. Also, whenever any of your electronics breaks down, repair should be your first option. Overall, sensible consumption would greatly contribute to active management of your e-waste.
In advanced countries, many people do not wait until an item is completely unusable before they discard it. This thanks to their above average spending power relative to the rest of the world. For example, by the time you start perusing our favorite guide on streaming webcams, chances are that your current webcam is in good working order.
Many disused household and office electronics are therefore not faulty but have simply been replaced by something better. Ergo, instead of tossing your electronics in the trash, consider donating them.
For example, some organizations will collect old and abandoned video game consoles then distribute them to children’s hospitals. Putting a smile on a child grappling with serious illness will give you a far greater sense of satisfaction than allowing your game console to gather dust on the shelf.
4. Sell It
Selling your electronics is perhaps the next best thing you can do after donation. You get rid of your pile of unused gadgets and get some money in your pocket at the same time. What you consider obsolete could come in handy for someone else out there who cannot afford a more recent model or is perhaps just a collector of outdated electronics.
And it’s fairly easy for you to sell online via popular sites like eBay and Craigslist. The one thing you have to confirm before any of your devices moves to someone else’s possession is you’ve deleted all your data.
5. Repurpose It
When you evaluate the value of your older electronics, do not limit yourself to just the original purpose for which the device was designed. If you are ready to get creative, there’s quite a lot you can do with most of your old stuff. Have you just replaced your old iPhone with the latest model? You can use the old phone as a music player, car GPS device, baby monitor or as a control panel for a smart home.
For old desktop computers and laptops, remove the hard drives and use them as additional external storage. Purchase a USB converter that will allow you to easily plug in the hard drive to a computer USB port when you need to use it.
6. Recycle It
If there are no realistic usability options for an old electronic device, your best bet (short of leaving it in the store to gather dust indefinitely) is to recycle it. The world has come a long way from years past and there’s now plenty of information and options on recycling. if you are in doubt and don’t know where to look, a good place to start is enquiring from your local government.
Some cities provide recycling stations. Certain countries require stores to accept and recycle electronic waste. A number of major brands and retailers provide drop-off sites and in-store locations where you can leave old phones, computers and televisions. Some electronics manufacturers such as Apple are recycling on behalf of their customers and provide gift cards as an incentive.
As your stock of home electronics grows, you’ll be glad to know that you do not have to send it to a landfill. There are many ways you can dispose it that are much less damaging to the environment. And if you are lucky, you could even earn or save money in the process.