By Susie Kopecky.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, the saying goes! And today, the organization which touts that very same catchy slogan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages consumers seriously to think outside of the box when it comes to being a responsible environmental steward. Responsible use need not be confined to recycling a soda can and reducing the amount of waste you produce. Consider how, as a whole, you can add a splash of green to all facets of your life. You can even become a little more green through your use and disposal of technology! In 2008 alone, one e-waste recycling program through the EPA helped to recycle “68 million pounds of used consumer electronics” – WOW!
It has never been easier to recycle your electronic devices and associated devices. Most people are probably familiar with the bins to recycle old printer cartridges at the local tech store, for instance. But did you realize just how extensive of a network of e-recycling exists? There is even a non-profit group formed in 2005 which is dedicated to helping consumers recycle electronics, the National Center for Electronics Recycling. The NCER lists four main reasons why it is important to recycle electronics: to conserve natural resources; to support the community; to create local jobs; and to protect public health and the environment. And according to the NCER, 25 of the 50 states already have laws in place regarding electronic waste and recycling. The NCER makes it easier to reduce e-waste by providing links for consumers to find local recycling spots.
Today, there are numerous great programs which exist to help facilitate more environmentally-friendly ways to trade in and dispose of electronics and associated devices. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Wastes program offers an informative look at quite a few companies and governmental organizations which are actively involved in cutting down on electronic waste accumulation, and finding ways to reward consumers for recycling and being a little more conscientious, in terms of their environmental footprint.
A few of the businesses which the EPA lists as active and approved electronics recycling partners include Dell, Best Buy, Staples, Nokia, Sony, Verizon, eBay and phone magnate AT&T. AT&T’s program (AT&T Reuse & Recycle) is a “national recycling program to make recycling easy and accessible for everyone” which aims to invite consumers “to bring unwanted wireless phones, smartphones, accessories and batteries (regardless of the manufacturer or carrier) to AT&T company-owned retail stores for recycling.” There are also rewards for consumers who choose to recycle their phones: all AT&T stores participate in the FlipSwap’s program, which allows for the swapping of older cell phones, in exchange for “promotional card[s],” the opportunity to “offset the cost of some of the latest wireless devices or the purchase of other At&T products and services.”
While those who turn in their older devices at AT&T stores and the like are not necessarily guaranteed cash rewards, e-recycling websites such as EcoSquid allow consumers to check right away if their old devices will fetch anything, by searching value listings depending on the devices make, year and/or name.
Many businesses simply offer visitors a box in which they may deposit electronics which are no longer used, and which may be recycled, while other companies do rely more on financial incentives. Either way, there is no shortage of ways to help the environment, and dispose responsibly of unused or unwanted electronics. Many of the older but still-useful electronics are sometimes refurbished and donated to the needy and to students, which may provide another incentive to recycle. One responsible and useful recycling program of sorts is Intel’s STRUT program, or Students Recycling Used Technology (in Silicon Valley, Arizona and Oregon). According to the Silicon Valley Branch of STRUT, STRUT “emphasizes education and curriculum to complement… recycling” and over the last few years, the program “placed over 500 free computers, printers and networking devices with area schools.”
Talk about making a difference through recycling!
Indomitable optimists realize the infinite potential of all: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – President Teddy Roosevelt. Susie “Danger” Kopecky is a regular contributor to Green Living Press.