The holiday season is in full swing and consumers are buying up new electronics like never before. Flatscreen TV’s, smart phones, tablets, fitness devices, smart watches… the list grows every year, bustling with new advances in technology and our never-ending thirst for more. While it’s exciting to receive the newest technology as a gift, many don’t put a lot of thought into what happens to the old stuff being replaced. This is the perfect time to start planning on what to do with your old phone, tablet or other electronics. Appliances even.
Record High Spending on Electronics
According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), this year we’ll see the highest amount of spending on electronics since they started tracking it back in 1994. There will be a 2.5 percent increase from last year and reach nearly $34 billion in sales.
What’s at the top of the list?
- Headphones (27 percent)
- Earbuds (26 percent)
- Tablets (26 percent)
- Laptops or notebooks (25 percent)
- TV’s (24 percent)
- Smartphones (23 percent)
- Many also plan on giving the gift of a new video game console system
Electric Waste (E-Waste) and Our Environment
The amount of electronic waste is phenomenal and the impact it could end up having on our environment, let alone our health, is yet to be seen. But the outlook isn’t pretty. Around 80 percent of electronics are tossed into incinerators or landfills (only about 12 percent are recycled), releasing toxins directly into the air. While it may only equal a very small percentage of landfills overall, it hits a whopping 70 percent of the toxic waste that comes from them. The lead alone found in electronics can lead to kidney damage, blood problems and central nervous system damage.
Interesting fact.. Did you know that the gold and silver found in electronics that are dumped each year by Americans is worth $60 million? What a shame. That could definitely come in handy for funding programs to better American life. What a waste.
Recycle Your Electronics
There are programs in place to recycle, reuse and donate electronics all around the country, and the world for that matter. For many items, you don’t even have to find a local place, as there are more and more organizations accepting mail-ins of electronics. Here are just a few:
To Recycle TV’s in the U.S.
You probably don’t want to pack up a TV to send off in the mail to recycle. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of recycling locations across the U.S. That accept TV’s. In many cases, the manufacturer themselves will take it back to dispose of properly. Here is a list to start with. You can also offer your used TV on Freecycle. Even if it isn’t working, some people take them off your hands because they want to practice repairing them.
To Recycle Smartphones and Tablets
These are much easier to recycle, because they’re small enough that packaging to mail off is much more feasible than with larger items. If you live in the U.S. There are tons of places that accept mail-in phones and small devices for recycling. Earth911 has a big list of them here (link at bottom). If you’re in the UK there are a few I’ve found that accept them, including OnRecycle. Alternatively, iGadgetsRecycled is an interesting site that lets you compare a range of mobile phone recyclers to get you the best deal possible for both phones and tablet.
What About Appliances?
Appliances can be a bit trickier, as they more often have some very hazardous materials that have to be extracted and dealt with carefully within guidelines set by the law. In the U.S. There are many places that are part of the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program. There’s a map of RAD partner locations at the bottom of this post.
Lastly, another option to think about is to simply donate your old devices to those who otherwise would not have access to this type of technology. This could mean going to your local thrift store and donating them or going through an organization that specializes in doing just this. For example, the National Cristina Foundation strictly works to collect such items to donate to nonprofits, schools and other agencies. From their site:
“The Foundation focuses on service providing organizations targeting people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged populations. The goal is to support the delivery of essential educational and training programs through provision of suitable technology resources.”