E-waste is a growing problem and one that we, as individuals, have been ignoring for far too long. We are keeping tabs on our electronics waste, but we are not doing much about it. In fact, in 2014, approximately 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste were generated, but only 6.5 million tonnes were reported as treated by national take-back systems.
The rest ended up who knows where. Maybe in a landfill somewhere, where they were probably burned, releasing insane amounts of toxic fumes in the air. And this is what the main problem is – we are generating more electronic waste than we can handle safely.
If current trends continue, by the end of 2017, we could generate approximately 40 million tonnes of e-waste. This means that in the past three years, we have done very little to lower the amount of electronics waste we produce.
But there are some things that each and every one of us can do. Small things that, when done by enough people, could potentially change the world. And since we are creatures of habit, let me tell you about ten ways that we can use this to lower the e-waste each of us produces.
Unplug your Electronics & Gadgets
Do you know that even when your TV, computer, and monitors are off, they still consume power? It is just a tiny bit, but it adds up quite quickly when you consider all the electronics in your home.
Now, add the entire neighborhood, then the city, then the world and you will get a lot of power that is not even being used.
So, unplug your electronics when you don’t use them. This way, you will greatly reduce both, your electricity bill and your carbon footprint.
Recycle your Old Phone
If you are done with your old handset, consider reusing or recycling it.
There are plenty of viable options for that. Give it away, return it to your carrier, or donate it to charity – it’s up to you.
But if we all recycle our old phones, we will lower the global e-waste quite a lot. So, do consider this option.
Donate your Electronics
Did you know that you can donate your old electronic devices to various charity organizations?
In most cases, they will turn them in for recycling and use the money they get for their cause. However, depending on the type of their work, they might actually use the electronics that work. There are charities that will gladly accept your old, but working, consoles and video games, so they can provide them to hospitalized kids.
No matter what type of device you are looking to get rid of, there is a charity organization that will accept it. So, consider that option and look around.
Buy Second-hand Electronics
A great way to reduce the e-waste is to actually buy it before it becomes e-waste.
What I mean by that is to buy second-hand electronics that are still in good condition, instead of brand new ones. Not only will this save you quite a lot of money, but you will also help the environment by not letting one device end up at a landfill somewhere.
If you look around eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon, you will find plenty of electronics in mint condition and even with their packaging intact. So, why would you want to always buy new, when the used goods could serve you just as well and cost you far less?
Buy refurbished electronics
If you are not a fan of using something that has been used by someone else, why not opt for refurbished electronics instead?
These are usually sold by the manufacturers themselves and are assembled out of the working parts of faulty units. Now, it may sound a bit risky to buy something that is pieced together from several non-working versions of itself, but the risk of receiving a faulty refurbished device is actually extremely low.
What’s more, refurbished units usually come with their own warranty, so if there is any problem with it, you can always return it to the place of purchase.
Use Rechargeable Batteries
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each year, Americans throw away 180,000 tonnes of batteries. That’s three billion batteries each year. More than 86,000 tonnes are single-use batteries.
Imagine how much we can all reduce the e-waste if we buy rechargeable batteries instead. On top of that, you will save a lot of cash that’s literally going to waste a few months later when the batteries run dry.
The way we use batteries right now, is like having a subscription for our wireless computer mice. Inserting new batteries every time the previous ones run out is like paying a fee that allows our peripherals to work.
Work from Home
If you are lucky enough, you work in a company where occasional working from home is allowed. So, why would you go to the office every day? Talk with your superiors to get one home office day a week and you will cut down your carbon emissions by 20%.
How, exactly? It’s obvious – you won’t have to drive to work and back once every five work days, so you will use less fossil-based fuel. This will cut down your gas costs by approximately one-fifth and you will help the environment at the same time.
Invest in Solar Panels
We all love our tech, so we all try to have more of it to make our lives easier. However, this can hurt both our pocket and the planet we live on. The electricity all of our gadgets, smartphones, computers, and smart appliances consume can add up to a point where we’re using more than we can pay for.
The smart decision here would be to invest in solar power. Sure, solar panels do not come cheap and they do require some maintenance, but in the long run, you will eliminate your electricity bills and the money you save will be worth it.
Use Fans Instead of AC in the Summer
Summers can be quite hot and that lovely feeling of walking into an air-conditioned room is truly amazing. But sometimes, the AC is not needed.
Invest in a few fans and place them in your home. This way, you can still keep your home cool and keep the AC off until the hottest days of summer come around.
Rearrange your Kitchen Appliances
Did you know that when large appliances are placed next to each other, they consume more power? Having your dishwasher and stove side by side will result in slightly higher consumption, which in turn means that both your electricity bill and carbon footprint will increase.
In order to avoid that, give your appliances some air and keep them as spaced out around your kitchen as possible. Trust me, you will thank me later.
There are many small things we can do to lower our carbon footprint. And if we integrate them in our daily routine, they will not even feel like we are doing something extra. So, why don’t you start by changing your habits a little bit?
This will not only make you more eco-friendly, but in most cases, it will save you some cash. It’s a win-win if you ask me.
Abigail Smith is communications and PR specialist for