It’s amazing how much technology, gadgets, memory sticks, wires, and batteries we all have these days. We all are accumulating more e-waste than we are able to handle, and it’s time to make a conscious effort to get it under control.
I am extremely guilty of not keeping electronic waste to the minimum at my home. Over the past two years, we have thinned down everything in our home, including furniture, clothes, and toys, but the electronics still seemed to pile up.
Finally, I am making a conscious effort to manage the e-waste in our home.
Here are some ideas I have gathered.
1. Buy less.
Buying things we simply do not need might be the biggest cause for an e-waste problem. It is really important for us to just stop (really STOP) and ask ourselves if we need a gadget or electronic item BEFORE we buy it. We really need to activate that voice in our heads that talks to us and prevents us (or our spouses) from buying electronic items we do not need.
Photo by Nick Ames
2. Organize what you have.
Electronics are a commodity these days, very much like the clothes we wear. If you do not organize your gadgets, wires, connectors and DVDs, you will never really know what you have. The last thing you want to do is buy something thinking you need it, only to find a duplicate buried in your cabinet.
Both my husband and I are active consumers of technology, and we have to be organized enough to know what we have in order to prevent buying duplicates.
3. Give away or donate your e-waste.
If you do not NEED a piece of equipment, donate it as soon as possible so that someone else can use it. Donations are great way to get tax deductions as well — and very often, that tax deductible amount will be very close to the value of the item if you tried to sell it. If something you have is not even worth donating, then try giving your stuff away for free on sites such as FreeCycle.
4. Take them back to the store.
These days, a number of stores are investing in a buy back program. If you’re making a new purchase at a store, be sure to ask the store if they will buy back your old camera, laptop or any other electronic item. Best Buy has a trade-in option, where you can get rid of your old equipment in exchange of Best Buy gift cards.
Be sure to sell your electronic items right away – they will lose value rapidly as later models come into the market. Craigslist is a good option to sell heavy or lower value items, since shipping is often not involved.
Photo by Scott Ableman
6. Learn about your local recycling options.
If you are in the United States, the EPA website has information on your local options for recycling your electronics. And no matter where you live, check out your options to recycle locally., and to share them with your family and community.
7. Think ahead.
The last time we moved, we actually had to pay to dispose a bunch of electronics. We did not have enough time to find people that wanted what we had — that was indeed a terrible feeling.
We really have no quick way to get rid of e-waste. We will have to dispose them sooner or later, so why not make money on them now, rather than pay dearly to get rid of them later? Never pile up, and always plan for the future.
8. Live in the cloud (and in cyberspace).
If you are running a business, there is no longer a need to buy a large server or heavy-duty machines for your work. Microsoft’s mesh and Dropbox are great resources for you to back up and sync your files across multiple machines, without having to invest in a server. For the technical people, the cloud is also a great option for businesses to expand their memory on the fly and as needed.
9. Make a good-e-bag.
I go to a number of conferences where they give away memory sticks and little gadgets. I recently made a good-e bag with all the items collected from these conferences, and I hand a number of these out to people that can really use them. Make one yourself, and you will see how quickly it fills up. This is a creative way to “catch” small but useless pieces of electronics, and give them to people that have a use for them.
10. Educate yourself, and be a little afraid.
Most electronic gadgets have toxic materials in them, so it is extremely important to dispose of them in the right way. Make sure to educate yourself, you kids, and your neighbors about this . Discovering all the toxins in electronics will push you to be more mindful of e-waste.
Has e-waste become a problem in your life? Have you found more creative ways to deal with it?