Home

5 Tips To Help Reduce and Properly Recycle Electronic Waste

For when you get a new [insert electronic device]

Getting new gadgets is always exciting. Whether it's a cell phone, an electric toothbrush, or even a blender, it's fun to learn all about the new features. But, what happens to the old ones? If it still works, maybe you resell it, or it goes to a friend, or Goodwill. Other times, it ends up in a drawer with all the old cords you keep around just in case (like that one to plug your old digital camera into your laptop - oh wait, you laptop doesn't have ports anymore… but you never know!). For all of the items that don't end up in either of those categories, many of them end up being thrown out and becoming e-waste.

As technology keeps improving and advancing at a lightning fast pace and electronics become harder to repair, the larger the amount of e-waste will become. So, what does that mean for us and the planet?


Well, a couple of things. E-waste can be both a precious resource and a dangerous source of pollution, depending on where it ends up and how it is processed. All of our precious electronic devices are full of special materials like copper and gold, but also some scarier metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury. They also release other toxics including flame retardants, PDBEs, PCBs, dioxins, PAHs, which are either added as they are produced or created as they are used.

If e-waste is recycled properly, it can be taken apart responsibly and the metals can be reclaimed and handled in a safe manner. But, if the items are thrown in the trash or recycled in informal ways (like by families halfway across the world who find them in dumps), they can become dangerous- for the person doing the recycling and for the environment.

E-waste has been associated with health risks including changes to thyroid function, fetal malformation, still birth, changes to DNA, reduced lung function, neurobehavioral changes, and premature birth (1,2). These health risks are worse for those who come into direct contact with the e-waste (like those collecting and recycling it for parts). But the worry goes beyond just that. As the e-waste sits in landfills, toxics also seep out from the items and collect in our soil, water and food (1,2,3,4). The effects are known to be worse for children because they are more sensitive and take in more compared to their body weight (little bodies breath in more oxygen and drink more water per pound than bigger bodies)(1,2,3).

So, what are some ways you can help reduce e-waste and ensure that what you do get rid of is processed safely?

1. Research trade in programs and get money for your old electronics.

Many companies and retailers, like Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Walmart, and Target will take back (or buy-back, even better!) old electronics. There are also independent buyback websites like GreenBuyBack, Gazelle, and BuyBackWorld that are also great options.

2. Recycle responsibly.

Many of those same trade in program will take broken electronics and responsibly recycle them. Other stores, like BestBuy, also offer recycling programs so they can appropriately dismantle the tech and reuse the relevant parts. You can find other certified electronics recyclers that meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage electronics through the Responsible Recycling ("R2") Standard by SERI and e-Stewards.

3. Look for charities seeking donations of old gadgets.

Just because it's not of use to you anymore doesn't mean it wouldn't be helpful for someone else. Charities often are grateful for old electronics that are still in working order like Computers with Causes or Cell Phones for Soldiers.

4. Fix what you already have.

It may sound old fashioned, but you'd be surprised what you can still fix instead of buying new. Think things like swapping out the battery in your smartphone, fixing laptop components, or going to an old fashioned repair shop for things like a vacuum cleaner or other appliances.

5. Think before you buy.

Instead of rushing to buy a new thing as soon as it is released, take a moment to consider it. Do you need it right now? Or if it's a specialty item you don't think you will use often (like a carpet cleaner or crockpot) see if you can rent one or borrow from a friend or neighbor. We aren't saying never get a new phone or don't buy that instant pot you have been eyeing and thinking about for months now. We're just advocating for thinking about it first.


References:

  1. https://www.who.int/ceh/risks/ewaste/en/
  2. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70020-2/fulltext
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214109X13701013
  4. https://www.consumerreports.org/recycling/how-to-recycle-electronics/
Family

Why You Should Wash Those Tiny Hands Every Time Before Meals

Even if you've been home all day, their hands look clean, and your baby is a saint!

We know that balancing your baby over the sink or corralling your toddler onto the step stool to wash their hands is not an easy task. Sigh... is anything about parenting easy?

Even if it's noon and you haven't managed to leave the house, it's still a good idea to wash your kiddo's hands before they start eating. Of course it's an especially good idea to prevent colds and for obvious dirt and grime from playing in the sand box. But it's also a good idea because a common place people don't often realize they are being exposed to contaminants and potential toxics is in their household dust. We know, gross!

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Roundups

6 Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizers

Tough on germs, without unnecessary yucky chemicals

Whether it's flu season or you're changing a poopy diaper on the go, hand sanitizer can be a life saver. But a lot of commercial hand sanitizers can contain fragrances and some pretty gross chemicals. To make sure you're getting the best possible product, we reviewed a ton of options and made sure they're easy to find at stores. There are options for gels, sprays, and wipes and lots of yummy smells like lavender or coconut and lemon, or just simply fragrance free if you want something simple. Try out several and stash them in places where you might need them, like the car, a favorite purse, backpack, or laptop bag. All of our non-toxic hand sanitizer recommendations are safer for you but super tough on germs!

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

The Lowdown on Leather: the Good, the Bad, and the Surprising Alternative Leather Options

A breakdown of the most sustainable and non-toxic leather products out there


Stop, drop, and shop! Here's to the newest fashion trend, where the only thing hotter than rocking your style, is rocking it sustainably. So, let's talk about leather. Who here loves it? Can I get a hand raise? Maybe it's your everyday bag or your "makes-everything-look-better" moto jacket, or maybe you just want to make 2019 your year to rock leather! Don't worry, we've got the health scoop on it all, from real leather to vegan leather, and even ones made of food (no, we're not joking). Keeping reading – you won't be disappointed, we promise!

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

How Budget Jewelry Could Be Messing with Your Health

The problems with cadmium and how you can avoid this cheap filler metal

We've all heard of platinum, gold, and silver used for jewelry, right? Well, how about cadmium? We hate to break it to you, but this is definitely a metal that you'll want to hear more about, but not so you can be ahead of the next jewelry trend. Just the opposite actually. As a pretty cheap metal, it is often either added into jewelry pieces as filler or even used entirely to make pieces of jewelry. This hitchhiker makes jewelry more affordable, but really, shouldn't be used at all! Cadmium has got some pretty yucky health effects, but luckily with some savvy shopping knowledge, you'll be able to avoid this metal and any of its health harms.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

8 Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaners

Vetted to be safe for your health and great at cleaning

Updated for 2019! No need to look any further and spend time reading labels in the grocery aisle! We checked all the databases, read reviews, and rounded up 8 safe and healthy non-toxic all-purpose cleaners that are widely available. Everyone needs an all-purpose cleaner that you can use all around the house, from the kitchen to bathrooms and kid's rooms. They can also be great for spot cleaning upholstery and for cleaning in your car. So what are you waiting for? This is a non-toxic simple swap that you should definitely make.

Keep Reading Show Less
Food

3 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Wood Cutting Board

Making a simple swap from plastic makes a HUGE difference

Cutting boards, probably one word runs through your head - "ugh" - and we couldn't agree more! They're kind of unwieldy but somehow never big enough, a pain to clean and sometimes gross. Maybe a BIG emphasis on the gross part. Unfortunately, just like breakfast, lunch and dinner, cutting boards are kind of a package deal when it comes to cooking, but we got a simple swap for you that will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to cutting boards. Say goodbye to your midnight Google searches of "how do I keep my cutting board clean" or "what kind of cutting board is best?" after you put the kids to bed. Excited? Us too!

Keep Reading Show Less
Home

Simple Swap: Scented Garbage Bags

An easy way to get stink-free trash without the scented bags

We're talking trash. Not the gossip-y kind about your co-worker who definitely came in wearing the same outfit as yesterday, but literal trash. Like the stuff in your garbage can. No matter what's in it, trash is gross. So, when you think you've finally stumbled upon something that can make it a little less stinky, we're sure you're going to jump right on it. But, if that solution is scented trash bags we might have a better tip for you.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL