Eliminating E-Waste with Ease
What do old electronics and brown bananas have in common? Neither one belongs in a garbage can!
E-waste is a huge problem: 140,000 metric tons of techno trash is thrown out EVERY DAY around the world, much of which can be repaired or recycled. Within a single year, our e-waste towers over the Empire State Building with ease.
Increasingly cheap gadgets, bans on third-party repair, a lack of recycling facilities, and the obsolescence we experience as technology leap frogs itself year after year are just some of the culprits that make proper e-waste etiquette seem like more trouble than it's worth. But this is NOT kind of growth we want to see!
Are Gadgets Ever Recycled?
Internet searches for “e-waste recycling near me” spike near gift-giving season, no surprise there. Which means that, while people are eager to enjoy technology’s latest offerings, there’s another insight to be gleaned: people want a circular economy. They want to recycle. After all, that pang of nausea that comes with seeing last year’s iPhone in the trash derives at least in part from knowing that less than a fifth of all e-waste escapes the landfill.
While computers of the past were made of nearly 100% (recyclable) metal, the phones we carry around today encase precious metals like gold and neodymium in a thick layer of (single-use) plastic, resulting in a smaller ROI for all the tough work that goes into recycling. And once sustainability is no longer profitable, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company willing to pay for it, planet be damned.
Ways to Cut E-Waste
We’d love to just say, “fix your phone,” but that’s not always an option, especially these days. Even the most conservative phone buyer is doomed to watch their device grow slower and slower as regular updates take up memory and bog down operations, and while Right to Repair laws are gaining momentum to make third-party fixes possible, they’re far from actually serving us at the moment.
Still, the usual rules apply. If your screen cracks, fixing your phone is a better option than replacing it. If your battery’s in the red by noon, swap it out instead of signing another 2-year contract for a new device.
Bailing Out Broken Batteries
Single-use batteries are a plague. We’ll spare you the rant on Thomas Edison’s battle to perfect the rechargeable battery, but suffice it to say people have known the dangers of single-use tech for over a century. Recycling single-use batteries is a great choice, but it may not be available depending on where you live. Click here to find a drop-off for your dead ones.
So, why not try rechargeable batteries? This may conjure up unpleasant memories of when they first emerged onto the scene, when most of us hopped aboard the bandwagon only to be let down by their innate suckiness. But things are different now. Take the 4th generation Eneloop AA NiMh battery, for example. It’s rated for 2,100 charges, meaning that just 2 of them in a device would save 4,200 batteries from being tossed!
Changing How We Live
A circular economy is the goal. But as long as most corporations don’t invest in developing a lifestyle that would reduce their annual revenues, it’s up to you to buy less and reuse more. Repairing your gadgets and recharging your batteries is a great first step!