Growing Problem of E-waste: What Should You Do?

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E-waste

With how fast technology changes, most gadgets can feel obsolete in just a few years, even months. In 2017 alone, Americans have spent at least $71 billion on phones and telecommunications devices, five times more than they spent on these gadgets back in 2010.

This proves how gadgets’ lives have shortened and how faster the speed of obsolescence compared to years back. That is not surprising with how every year the big electronics company launches a new gadget or device, one that is better than their previous release. In just a year, someone’s brand-new phone isn’t brand new anymore. It’s already obsolete and no longer the latest model.

But what has not been talked about regarding this situation is the resulting gargantuan electronic wastes. People switch from one gadget to another as if they are changing clothes. In the long run, further accumulation of e-waste can lead to many environmental issues that will be difficult to address if not checked right away.

What makes them dangerous? Gadgets and devices are made of different and complex materials like semiconductors and metals. It may also contain toxic metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, and other hazardous materials. It can cause harm and damage to humans and the environment when left exposed.  When mishandled, these chemicals can find their way to soil and damage it forever.

Governments around the world, even a handful of states, have enacted laws to regulate the growing problem of e-waste. 19 states in the US have already made it illegal for electronic wastes to be included with regular wastes. Having laws to regulate this problem is a good start off point, but it takes more than that. Even big companies that manufacture and invent these devices must also be checked.

Decision-makers and policymakers have been trying to compromise on the best way to deal with the growing problem the world is facing. But on an individual level, some things can also be done. Consumers are responsible for handling their e-wastes. Some may consider this a hassle, but proper disposal must be observed. The best thing for people to do is, of course, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are some ways that can be manageable.

Reduce

In this day and age, when new gadgets are launched ever so often, it is difficult to resist the allure of acquiring the latest and the most updated version. That’s understandable, but it’s also time to be more practical. Every new gadget comes with a price that sometimes far too high to be afforded. When you feel that your phone or your gadget is not making you feel like it did, ask yourself this question, “is it still doing the function that it is intended to do?” If the answer is yes, then it’s not yet time to seek an upgrade. Again, emphasize utility over novelty. If it still works, don’t get a new one yet. This may seem difficult at first, but it gets easier once you changed the way you see things.

It is also important that instead of buying new phones once the old ones are broken, it would be better to have them repaired first. Phone repair is relatively cheaper than buying a new one. This also goes for other appliances. If there are minor issues, call in an electrician to have it checked.

Reuse

Old appliances and devices do not necessarily mean that they are unusable. If you still have gadgets and appliances that are in perfect condition despite how old they are, why not use them? For example, if you still have an old iPod, you can still use that for background while exercising. Or better yet, you can hand them down to your siblings or anyone in your family. You’ll never know who will find these gadgets useful.

Recycle

If there is no other way to dispose of your e-waste, there is a safe way to do. First, find out if there are manufacturers who take in e-wastes. Some companies like Apple take e-waste, especially if it’s their product. It is safer to dispose of them this way so that some parts can still be recycled and used. Also, some organizations take in e-wastes and recycle them. Just connect with them, and they will gladly help you.

There are so many ways people can minimize the e-wastes that they produced. Everyone has responsibility for their trash. As consumers, it is on our part to make sure that we are responsible not only for ourselves but also for the environment.   It only takes a little creativity and care to do this.

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