7 Ways To Minimize Your E-waste

In recent years, awareness of the impact of modern life on the environment has steadily grown. Many have made the shift towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. However, e-waste is not as often discussed as traditional waste.

What is E-waste?

Electronic waste or e-waste is a term used to describe electronic devices that no longer hold value to their users or are rendered obsolete. E-waste covers a broad range of devices—anywhere from household appliances like microwaves and TVs to personal gadgets like smartphones and laptops. Devices classified as e-waste can either be in perfect working condition or completely unusable.

With the wave of technological advancements in the last decades, the volume of electronic devices and resulting e-waste continue to rise. Experts from the United Nations University estimate that global levels of e-waste are expected to increase by 8% each year, with an estimated 17% increase by 2021—or 52.2 million metric tons of e-waste.

What is the impact of e-waste on the environment?

Aside from the massive amounts of e-waste entering landfills, improper disposal of e-waste can lead to air, water, and soil pollution. The incineration of wires and other parts may release hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

Additionally, the heavy metal components of electronic devices like mercury, lead, and lithium can enter the water system and leech into the soil. These toxic chemicals are then absorbed by plants, which are consumed by animals, further poisoning the food chain.

How do you minimize e-waste?

Knowing the dangers that it poses, here are ways you can reduce your own e-waste:

●        Don’t buy more than you need

The biggest way to reduce your e-waste is to consume less. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate electronics from your daily living, changing your approach to buying can make a difference.

Carefully consider if the purchase is necessary, or if you already have something that can function the same way. Avoid purchasing gadgets for the sole sake of keeping up with the latest releases and trends.

●        Invest in quality

Another way to manage your spending and reduce e-waste is to buy gadgets that are of higher quality. It may be tempting to opt for cheaper alternatives to certain electronics. However, they may break down quicker and will need more frequent replacement.

While high-quality electronics are more expensive, you are paying for longevity and reliability. This saves you more money and reduces waste in the long run.

●        Donate or sell working electronics

If upgrades or replacements of existing electronics are unavoidable, old but still functional devices need not be disposed of. Instead, try donating or selling these to someone in need. This saves the device from ending up in the landfill and gives it to someone who can get more use out of it.

There are plenty of online marketplaces where you can advertise and sell your used electronics. You can also research charities that may need these devices, whether as donations for their beneficiaries or for use in their charity work.

●        Look for e-waste recycling initiatives

Even if your electronics are no longer usable, they may still contain pieces and components that can be reused or recycled properly. Look up e-waste recycling initiatives in your area and find out how the hand-off process works.

In addition, some electronics retailers and brands allow consumers to trade in e-waste for incentives like discounts on replacements or gift cards. Check their respective official pages to find out if your devices can be recycled through this method.

●        Familiarize yourself with proper e-waste disposal practices

Part of responsibly handling e-waste is knowing how to dispose of it properly. The internet has a wealth of information on proper Macbook disposal and specific instructions on how to get rid of certain devices.

Make sure to check if there are legislations that will affect how you throw away your e-waste. In the United States, for example, rechargeable batteries are considered hazardous materials due to their chemical makeup. Specific protocols need to be followed to get rid of them safely.

●        Consider repairs over replacements

Like all things, electronic devices can get broken, fall apart, or malfunction. However, these damages don’t necessarily mean the device is permanently unusable. Having your devices repaired instead of buying a brand new unit as a replacement extends its lifespan.

Make sure to keep up with the proper maintenance of your devices, such as keeping them clean, avoiding any physical stress or damage, and following the best practices for its power management. This will help extend its lifespan and avoid unnecessary spending on replacements.

●        Opt for eco-friendly choices

Working towards a more eco-friendly home will require both a shift in household setup and overall mindset. If you’re buying new appliances or devices, pick ones that have eco-friendly ratings or guarantees. These choices help you minimize your impact on the environment as you use your electronics, but may also have less harmful effects once the device turns into e-waste.

Proper e-waste disposal can save the world

At the end of the day, taking care of the environment should be everyone’s top priority. By being aware of the impact your technological consumption has on the world and its ecosystem, you can make informed decisions that benefit you and the rest of humanity in the long run. 

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