Mobile phones are getting cheaper by the day and in fact, some models are even more affordable than a pair of shoes. LCD TVs, microwaves, washing machines, desk tops and lap tops are all being replaced in quick succession even before they have reached halfway through their life cycle. This is due to the latest of products flooding the market at prices which are well within the reach of even the common man. While this may make the buyer happy and more in keeping with the changing world, one should spare a thought for the catastrophic effects this e-waste has on the environment. E-Waste is causing an appalling effect on the surroundings as it contains toxic substances such as mercury, arsenic, bromine, lead, etc. This can be absorbed in the earth more easily than you think, causing adverse affects both on drinking water and soil conditions, not to forget the health of individuals who come in direct contact with this e-waste.
Estimates reveal that in the U.S. alone, 2.25 million tonnes of e-waste is produced per annum. Out of this, just a fraction is recycled. A major chunk of this waste is carelessly exported to countries such as Pakistan, China and India, where recycling and further processing is more economical as labor is cheap. These products are designed into new products such as jewelry, furniture, hardware, toys, etc and are then exported again to the US. However, the process involved is hazardous as rag pickers and often children in these countries sift through this harmful waste which in turn is sold to scrap dealers in order to make a few bucks to feed themselves and their families.
While e-waste cannot be avoided at any cost, it is upto the electronic giants to come up with some solution in their disposal and recycling so as to have a minimum impact on the health of the community at large. There is a lot that we, as individuals can also do to ensure that e-waste is reduced.
Thrash to treasure – What is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. E-Waste can be disposed off for quite a sum on recycling websites. These sites buy used cell phones and other electronic gadgets and while prices vary, each seller is ensured of a fair price for their waste. Besides earning some amount from scrap, users also have the satisfaction that they have taken care of their e-waste in a responsible way.
Authorised e-waste dealers - There are a large number of authorized and dependable e-waste recycling companies who take in such old and unused electronic products. These companies take on the responsibility to ensure that all this waste is safely segregated by e-waste handlers who are protected from direct skin contact with these harmful objects with the use of gloves and protective masks.
Donation to Charitable Organisations – Most of the e-waste that is scrapped is actually in working condition or can be refurbished and revamped to work like new. By donating these products to special NGOs and Charitable Organizations, these products can be repaired and shipped to poorer countries. Cell phones can be handed over to soldiers while laptops and desktops can be used in schools and hospitals where funds are scarce and owning a computer or laptop is a distant dream.
Back to seller – Most responsible companies are now advertising attractive offers to those who bring back their old electronic appliances in exchange for new ones. Apple is one such company among a host of others that offers free recycling schemes for old computers and monitors to buyers opting for a new Mac appliance. A special iPod scheme is also being offered by Apple retail stores, offering a 10% discount on new sales.
All these options may actually seem like a lot of work as compared to just dumping your e-waste, but users need to spare a thought for the escalating environmental hazard where rivers are turning toxic and air is polluted to high levels containing poisonous fumes. Recycling of e-waste is a small step in ensuring that the world is cleaner, safer and healthier tomorrow.
This is a guest post by Nathan Brown of buyatt.com, a site that offers savings and current information on what is uverse as well as att.com services.