Three Simple Ways to Be an Eco-Hero and Reduce E-Waste and Pollution
With the release of another generation of iPhones and the Google Pixel, and the impending holiday shopping season, we’re about to discard an estimated 130 million old cell phones this year.1 Less than half are likely to be recycled.2 Read on to find out how you can recycle your e-waste and help nature…
E-Waste Recycling is Needed
When we throw old electronics away instead of recycling them, there are consequences for our planet. Electronic waste pollutes our air, water and soil, and damages ecosystems. Lead, arsenic, cadmium and flame retardants are just a few of the toxic substances that end up in our environment or our bodies when electronics are tossed in the trash.3
We can prevent many, if not all, of these effects if we recycle our electronics properly — and it’s simple!
How You Can Help Reduce E-Waste and Pollution
1. Buy less stuff.
One way we can reduce this waste is to buy fewer things. That’s a big challenge in a consumer culture driven by planned obsolescence.
- Do I really need a new phone?
- Can I update my existing software instead of buying a new device?
- Am I really going to use this new hardware differently than what I currently own?
- Why do I want a new device?
As we challenge ourselves to resist the pressure to buy more things, one easy – yet important – step is to recycle our old products.
2. Recycle your old electronics
What to do:
Gather your old electronics — cell phones, computers, printers, gaming systems — and see what you have: what are the brands? What types of equipment?
Where to go:
You can go directly to a participating retailer:
- Apple products: Either stop by an Apple store, or visit the Apple recycling page to request a prepaid shipping label. In some cases, Apple will send you a gift card.
- Google products: Some products in some states qualify for Google’s prepaid shipping program. Find out if yours qualifies and request the mailing label. You can find information on Google’s program here.
- Best Buy and Staples have free electronics recycling programs. Best Buy also provides a gift card for qualifying items that could be refurbished or resold. If you have other products, you can stop by one of these stores.
Or, you can find an electronic recycling program in your neighborhood:
- These states have government-sponsored e-recycling programs: Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- These states have Apple-sponsored programs: Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. Just fill out this request form.
- Or, use this map to find a recycling center near you.
3. Spread the word — Encourage your friends to be eco-heroes and reduce e-waste too.
1 Earthtalk, “How to Reduce the Toxic Impact of Your Ex-Smartphone,” Scientific American, February 20, 2015.
2 “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet,” United States Environmental Protection Agency, November 2016.
3 Denise Wilson, “The Impacts of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment on the Environment,” University of Washington Electrical Engineering, 2016.