You should think twice before packing in your old computers with all the waste that's headed towards the landfill. In the last few years, e-waste has been a major problem. As it is, we are already running out of landfills. Add the ever-growing electronic waste on top of that, and we are headed towards a landfill crisis in the next few years. But not everything is dreary. Proper disposal of electronics is one of the best ways to postpone, if not stop, the landfill crisis for the next few decades. Here are a few reasons how proper disposal helps to protect the environment.
Helping landfills: Research shows that if we continue to produce waste in the current ratio, landfills around the states are on course to be full in the next two decades. That means in two decades, the 254 million tons of waste Americans produce every year will have no place to go. This is why chucking that old phone right into the bin is not a good idea. Instead, you can choose to recycle it. Just head to your nearest recycling station and drop it in. They will take care of the rest.
Keeping chemicals out of our soil: Most of the things we use have chemicals in them, but electronics live and breathe chemicals. From mercury, lead, beryllium to cadmium, it is as bad as it sounds. When e-breaks down, the chemicals are released into the environment. The chemicals are absorbed by the soil and distributed through the top layer. This severely harms the ground and the surrounding vegetation. In the long run, such chemicals eventually reach the human system and can cause a series of problems, including birth defects, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Keeping our water clean: While the soil suffers the brunt force of toxic chemicals released from e-waste, it is not the only thing that is polluted. From the air we breathe into the water we drink, the pollution spreads far and wide. When toxic chemicals are released into the environment, a part of them is absorbed by the soil. The chemicals travel through the earth to reach underground water sources and later resurfaces in lakes and rivers. This kills what little wildlife we have left and can potentially contaminate drinking water.
Keeping the air clean: If dumping e-waste into landfills is terrible, then incinerating them is just as worse. When e-waste is burned, all the harmful chemicals are released into the air. The release of hydrocarbons into the environment is not just toxic in the present but can have severe repercussions for future generations. As it is, we are already combating high levels of air pollution. Add chemicals released from the incineration of e-waste into the mix, and we might end up with a significant health crisis on our hands.
What is proper disposal?
Behind every electronic that ends up in a landfill or inside of an incinerator, there is a person who has no idea what proper disposal looks like. Disposal is not just about recycling; it's about finding a sustainable way to use electronics. While finding eco-friendly ways to dispose of electronics is crucial, it doesn't minimize the e-waste. The ultimate goal here is to reduce the amount of e-waste produced. And that might mean giving up on that new I-phone upgrade each year. But even if you cannot, here are six other ways you can keep your e-waste production under wraps.
Re-evaluate: Do you really need to upgrade your smart TV within a few months? While most of us want to stay on top of new technology, it is not always essential to do so. Re-evaluating your technology needs is the best way to keep the e-waste out of landfills.
Extending life: At this point, we have already reached a level cap for electronics development. While new features come out every other day, it doesn't significantly alter the device's usage. This is why extending the life of our electronics is an excellent way to limit e-waste. On a side note, since you don't spend $1400 every other year on a brand-new phone, you save quite a lot.
Buy environmentally friendly electronics: What if you cannot get out of buying new electronics? Well, you can always opt to purchase environmentally friendly electronics. Look for products certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).
Donation and sales: A good way to extend the life of any electronic is to donate it. Given the current state of technology, people won't have many complaints about using a previous model if they receive it for free or at a reduced price. If you can, donate used electronics through donation centers. If you want to make a few extra bucks in the process, head to the second-hand market. You are sure to find a good deal.
While most of the proper disposal is about recycling electronics properly, there are more ways than one to keep your e-waste out of landfills. The end goal is not to increase the burden on recycling centers but to produce less e-waste.