Spreading Awareness of Ewaste

Earth Day 2005

Do you know what to do with your old computers, television sets, printers, or cell phones when they are no longer useable? Would you toss them in the trash or nearest dumpster? Would you, not knowing what else to do with them, stick them in a junk drawer or attic corner to collect dust? If you answered yes to either, I implore you to read this small piece I've put together on e-waste; the damaging effects it is having on our environment and the proper way to be rid of your old, electronic junk.

Spreading Awareness of E-Waste

Today is designated as the day we remember our lovely planet, and make an effort to do something for her. Because, let's face it, without our Mother Earth - we're in some serious trouble.

I try to make every day Earth Day; I recycle, I don't throw my cigarette butts on the ground, and I try to use products that are environmentally friendly.

We've terribly abused our home in the past, and the results are becoming glaringly, sadly and alarmingly obvious. I can never get my mind around those that don't seem to give a toss about our environment or our planet; those that think there is nothing wrong with raping and pillaging the land to give us more. When we destroy our planet, we only hurt ourselves - and more importantly our future generations.

Today is an important day. I urge you to do something good and beautiful for your Mother Earth. Yahoo! has ten simple ideas, Earthday Network and EnviroLink can tell you if there are any Earth Day events in your area, or take a few minutes and learn about the history of Earth Day.

In my little Earth Day post I would like to spread awareness of what has come to be known as "e-waste".

What is e-waste?

In today's fast-paced and increasingly technological world, millions of pieces of technical and electronic equipment are being used, and disposed of, at a rapid rate. This new form of trash is particularly detrimental to our environment; a cell phone lying in a landfill, for example, can emit toxic metals that leak into the air, ground and possibly into any nearby water.

About.com's E-Waste Fact Sheet says: Electronic waste, commonly known as "e-waste" includes electronic appliances, products, components, and accessories that, for one reason or another, we have deemed obsolete and have thus discarded.

133,000 computers are thrown out every day; that's not counting old cell phones, printers, fax machines, monitors, etc. All of these contain hazardous materials, usually in the form of plastics, lead, mercury, chromium, and cadmium. When these chemicals leak into the soil they will eventually begin to pollute our water.

What people are not yet aware of is that there is an alternative to throwing old electronic equipment in the trash or leaving it to collect dust in the attic. Recycle!

EBay has taken on the problem of e-waste with their new project, Rethink Initiative which encourages people and helps them to recycle, sell or donate their used electronic junk. You will find an extensive list of places you can drop-off used electronics to.

In a similar fashion, Earth 911 lets you search for electronic recycling centers by zip code.

Wondering where else you can recycle your electronic waste?

RecycleWirelessPhones.org or WirlessRecycling.com are both great places to start; donated phones go to charities so you're helping those in need as well as the environment.

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation has put together Call2Recycle for the betterment of our environment. You can find locations to drop off used cell phones and rechargeable batteries near you.

Verizon Wireless' HopeLine uses the money made from selling donated phones to fight against domestic violence.

And according to this article, The Body Shop is taking donated cell phones through August 31; some will be distributed to "200 women's shelters where they will be given to women at risk of domestic violence for use in emergencies". Proceeds will also go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Wireless Foundation. Drop off your phone at any The Body Shop location. You can get more information directly from The Body Shop's page, Donate a Phone, Save a Life.

Stuck with an old, unused pc? Donate it to The National Cristina Foundation, which refurbishes the computers to give to those in need. Their Mission Statement reads:

National Cristina Foundation (NCF) provides computer technology and solutions to give people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons the opportunity, through training, to lead more independent and productive lives.

PC World also gives a wealth of information and good links on how and where to discard old computers in the article Junk Your Old PC - Safely.

If you would like to know more about the growing problem of e-waste, please visit eWaste Guide, a "knowledge base for the sustainable recycling of eWaste". You can also read the article Drowning in e-waste by Henry Norr.

21 Apr 05