10 Tips for Managing e-Waste
Technology might have changed quite a bit in the past 10 years since this post was first published, but it doesn’t mean it’s not still one of our top-12 most popular posts of all time. To continue our celebration of this last year of AoS, here’s the 10th most-read post on the website, originally published in 2010.
It’s amazing how much technology, gadgets, memory sticks, wires, and batteries we have these days. We accumulate more e-waste than we’re able to handle, so it’s good to get it under control.
I’m guilty of not keeping electronic waste to a minimum—over the past few years, we’ve thinned down things in our home like furniture, clothes, and toys, but the electronics still pile up.
I’m finally making a conscious effort to manage our family’s e-waste.
Here’s a few ideas I’ve gathered.
1. Buy less.
Buying things we simply do not need is probably the biggest cause of e-waste. We need to stop (really, STOP) and ask ourselves if we even need a gadget or electronic item BEFORE we buy it.
We need to activate that voice in our heads that prevents us from buying electronic items we simply don’t need.
Photo by Nick Ames
2. Organize what you have.
If you don’t organize your gadgets, wires, connectors and DVDs, you”ll never really know what you have. The last thing you want is to buy something you think 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 don’t need a thing, donate it so someone else can use it. Donations are great for tax deductions; often the amount will be close to the value of the item if you tried to sell it.
If something you have isn’t worth donating, maybe give your stuff away for free on sites like FreeCycle.
4. Take them back to the store.
A few stores have a buy-back program. Before you purchase a new gadget at a store, ask the store if they’ll buy back your old camera, laptop, or any other electronic. Best Buy has a trade-in option, where you can get rid of your old equipment in exchange for Best Buy gift cards.
Sell your electronic items as soon as you don’t need them; they lose value rapidly when newer models come on the market. Craigslist is a good option to sell heavy or lower value items, since shipping isn’t involved.
Photo by Scott Ableman
6. Learn about your local recycling options.
If you’re in the United States, the EPA website has information on your local options for recycling electronics. No matter where you live, check out your options to recycle locally, and share them with your family and community.
7. Think ahead.
We actually had to pay to toss a bunch of electronics the last time we moved. We didn’t have enough time to find people that wanted what we had, which felt terrible.
There’s no quick way to get rid of e-waste—we have to dispose of them sooner or later, so why not make money on them now? Don’t let them pile up.
8. Live in the cloud.
There’s really no need to buy a large server or heavy-duty machines for either work or personal storage. Dropbox or Amazon’s AWS cloud are great for backing up and syncing your files across multiple devices, without having to invest in a server.
9. Make a good-e-bag.
I go to a number of conferences where they give away memory sticks and random little gadgets. I made a good-e bag with all the items collected from these conferences, and I hand these out to people that could actually use 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 the right way. Educate yourself, your kids, and your friends. These toxins should push us to be more mindful of e-waste.
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