Minimizing E-waste: The Right Way to Deal with It
It's amazing how technology and electronic gadgets have changed our lives. However, our increasing dependence on these devices is fast becoming a serious threat to the environment as well as the human existence as they contain some of the most harmful substances known to mankind. These toxins can reach humans through ground water sources and the environment when tossed into the dumping grounds.
According to a UN report, global e-waste generation is expected to grow at a rate of 2 million metric tons per year, reaching almost 50 million metric tons by 2018. Global e-waste includes dead cell phones, computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, batteries, lamps, and outdated or broken kitchen appliances.
While we can't eliminate the use of these electronic appliances, we can certainly do our bit to curb the generation of e-waste to an extent. Read on to learn about the six right ways to deal with this global problem.
Avoid the Temptation to Buy New Gadgets
One of the most common reasons behind the increasing threat of e-waste generation is the habit of buying gadgets that we may not even need. How many of you have bought a new cell phone at least twice in a year? What did you do with the old one? Unfortunately, you are not alone. We all are accumulating more electronic gadgets than we can handle.
Before going ahead with the decision to buy a second TV, think about whether or not you want two TVs in your home. In my opinion, giving yourself some time to think about purchasing a new gadget helps you make a conscious spending decision. Stopping impulsive spending will not only benefit the environment, but also ease the burden on your wallet.
Rather than throwing the old electronic devices away, why not give them a new lease of life with a new purpose? You can upgrade your old PC in a number of ways to extend its life. For example, just doubling the RAM will increase your computer’s performance by a mile. You can increase the storage capacity by installing larger hard drives on your PC. Similarly, an upgraded graphics card will allow you to enjoy the latest videos.
Alternatively, you can also repurpose your damaged or partially damaged electronic gadgets. For example, you can repurpose the fan in your computer as a regular desk fan. All you need are a few extra supplies. Most TVs have at least a couple of ports to connect a computer or laptop. You can connect your old PC or laptop with your TV to watch the old videos and photos stored on it. Further, you can connect the device to the internet to watch online media on YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Video. Isn’t this a great way to repurpose your old PC or laptop?
Donate or Sell
Sometimes, you may need to replace an old device even if it is in excellent working condition. In this case, you can sell the gadget instead of dumping it in a landfill. Thousands of people are using online websites such as eBay to sell their old electronic appliances. The money you get from selling your old laptop or mobile can be used to make the new purchase.
Another great way to get rid of your old equipment is to donate used electronics towards a social cause. Think of the charitable organizations, schools, senior communities, and even friends and family members who may benefit from receiving your old electronics. However, make sure you delete all personal information from your electronic device before donating or selling it as data theft can lead to serious consequences.
Recycling may be the last resort, but it is the best one, especially if you can't reuse or donate your electronic appliance. Check your local recycling options. Some electronics manufacturers have their own recycling programs. For example, Apple encourages its customers to return products through its Apple Renew recycling program. You can recycle any Apple device online or at any Apple Store. You can even get store credit or online gift cards for your device, provided it qualifies the recycling criteria.
Most local governments also offer dedicated e-waste recycling centers where you can drop your appliance to send it to a recycling facility. So, check with your local authorities to know about such recycling programs. Wipe your personal information clean from the electronic device before recycling. Don’t forget to remove the batteries from your electronics as you may have to recycle those separately.
Live in the Cloud
Cloud computing can help companies and even individuals reduce e-waste generation in several ways. The first and foremost advantage of using cloud computing is that you no longer have to buy, repair, replace, and recycle expensive hardware and heavy-duty IT infrastructure. Individual users don't have to spend on larger hard drives as they can store most information on the cloud. Besides, you can expand the memory as and when needed. Companies such as Google offer free cloud storage space even for individual users. Apart from reducing e-waste, cloud computing can also save your energy costs considerably.
Spread E-Waste Awareness
Now that you have learned about the benefits of reducing e-waste, help spread awareness about it in your neighborhood. Educate your neighbors and local businesses about the toxic materials present in most electronic gadgets and how they affect humans as well as the environment. Make sure to take them to the nearest e-waste recycling hub if they want to get rid of any electronics.
You can also join the local recycling projects to spread awareness. Visit local high schools or charitable organizations to discuss the various ways to promote e-waste recycling. For example, you can plan group activities such as cycle rallies or poster competitions to get the locals, particularly youngsters, involved in your e-waste recycling efforts.
As technology continues to evolve, the amount of e-waste generated also continues to rise. The ever-growing amount of e-waste dumped into landfills across the globe has become a serious environmental and health concern. That's why we need to find ways to minimize e-waste in our homes and offices. Hopefully, these six tips will set your efforts in the right direction. Don't forget to tell us about the more creative ways you have found to deal with the e-waste in your home and office.