There comes a time when no frantic DIY resurrection technique can save your dearly beloved gadget. So, you put away the damp rice, begin the grieving process, but then what? Do you have a proper Viking burial? Or, do you unceremoniously drop your device in the trash alongside leftovers past their prime to become about 2% of America’s trash and about 70% of overall toxic waste?
Surely, your early-2000s iPod deserves something better.
To find closure and the answers to this question, Team Lulu volunteered with the Goodwill Community Foundation’s electronics recycling program. Together, we disassembled a mountain of broken gadgets and sorted the parts to be recycled, sold, or sent to the landfill.
But really, who cares about the afterlife of a broken laptop? The Environmental Protection Agency does and you should, too!
Still need convincing? Here are 3 reasons to give your old electronics new life.
Save the Earth
Common sources of e-waste, or electronics waste, include cell phones, computers, small appliances, TVs, and video game consoles. And that’s only a small sample of products that can produce electronics waste. These devices contain super hazardous chemicals and materials that, if not properly disposed of, can pollute the environment and cause sad times for everyone living on planet Earth.
For example, a single computer can contain hundreds of harmful chemicals like lead, cadmium, mercury, and more! These chemicals are known to wreak havoc on the body by causing cancer as well as respiratory and reproductive problems. Learn more about the dangers of e-waste here.
That’s just the human impact. We shouldn’t allow our pollutants to Hulk-smash the delicate ecosystem either.
Remember the high school science lesson of the law of conservation of energy? Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed from one form to another. Many of the components that make up our beloved electronics come from nonrenewable resources. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. Resources like cobalt, an element essential to smartphone lithium-ion batteries, are running out!
Finding new mines is not only resource-intensive, but it’s also expensive. Just ask Apple.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, for every million cell phones recycled, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
Recycling one million laptops can save an amount of energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 American homes in a year.
Even more impressive, the total value of e-waste in 2016 was estimated to be a jaw-dropping $55 billion.
Companies like Urban Mining PBC, Recicladora Urbana, and 4th Bin Inc. are part of a growing industry of businesses making money from “trash”. Their services responsibly dispose of and recycle decommissioned electronics.
According to the United Nations, 44.7 million tons of e-waste was created in 2016. Sadly, only 20% was recycled. With a projected 17% increase of e-waste, it’s clear that electronics recycling companies will continue to grow.
Not sure where to recycle your e-waste or donate? Check out Earth 911 for recycling locations near you.
P.S. Make sure to remove all personal data from your device before recycling or donating!
Sheridan is Lulu’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Outreach. She is an author advocate, B Corp Champion, friend to all cats everywhere, and a clog aficionado.