Think Before You Toss: A Guide for Electronic Device Disposal
Blog Based on Daniel Escalera’s Tech Tip Featured on Instagram and Facebook
All of us have more than one electronic device (computer, tablet, mobile phone, copier/scanner, etc.) and continue to upgrade them as soon as new models hit the market. Many times, we store “obsolete” devices in junk drawers or simply throw them away in the garbage with no concern for the environmental impact. However, if we strive to be truly conscious of the harm electronic devices cause to the environment, we should consider donating or recycling devices we no longer need.
Manufacturers of electronics invest substantial amounts of water and energy in transforming raw materials into metals, plastics, and glass to build the products we use. When we donate or recycle them, we help conserve precious natural resources and avoid pollution of our air and water, which could result from making new electronic devices from scratch. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- If we recycle one million laptops, we would save the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in one year, and
- If we recycle one million cell phones, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
With this in mind, in the future when you feel it is time for you to change any of your electronic devices, think of the environmental impact and consider the following:
- Upgrading your hardware or software instead of buying a brand-new product,
- Donating your equipment to a school, church, non-for-profit, etc.
- Recycling your equipment. Equipment manufacturers, electronic stores, local communities in your area have recycling programs in place for these types of devices.
When you are ready to donate or recycle your equipment take the following steps to safeguard the data you keep in them:
- Back-up any important information you may have in your device, i.e. financial data, health data, contacts, etc. and store it in another device,
- Sign out of your online accounts and un-pair wireless devices (mouse, keyboard, tablets, etc.) from the electronic device you are disposing of, and
- Erase any and all data stored in your electronic device by using the “Reset to Factory Settings” feature. If you can not find one, ask an expert to do it for you; it is that important.
Just how we are so careful and diligent to do our research on what are brand new device specs will be, we should take the same thought and care into disposing our old devices and preserving our environment. And remember, even though devices such as monitors, cameras, and televisions do not have hard drives where information is stored, they do have materials which can be recycled.