E-Waste Has a Recycling Option Too

As the holiday fever subsides and we are left with the reality all of our new toys, we are also left wondering what to do with our now old electronic devices. According to a public policy organization, Demos, the average American household owns 25 electronic devices. That number, coupled with a national estimate of an average $232 spent on electronic gifts this season, can only lead to a tremendous amount of electronic waste. Devices that are now obsolete or simply do not work anymore are being thrown out at a growing rate, filling our landfills at an ever increasing speed. However, large companies and small organizations alike are tackling the problem of so-called “e-waste.”

Also according to Demos, less than 14% of e-waste gets recycled despite the fact that opportunities for consumers to recycle are expanding. Many electronics companies offer “take back” programs that allow consumers to return their products directly to the manufacturer for eco-friendly breakdowns and recycling.  AT&T, Dell, HP, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Sony and Sprint, to name a few, offer recycling programs – a full list of programs is available on the EPA’s website. Most companies offer free recycling, a rebate program or a postage paid shipping program. Best Buy allows consumers to drop off small merchandise in store for free and larger items like monitors and printers for a $10 fee, but return a $10 gift certificate immediately.

Additionally, some grassroots organizations have developed programs to donate used or outdated technology to third world countries or low income households. CollectiveGood donates phones in the U.S. and abroad, Iveneo gives used flash drives to students and workers in developing countries, Close The Gap refurbishes old computers for use in Africa and the list goes on. Most websites offer a zip code search feature to help users find drop sites near them.

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What to Do with Your Chirstmas Tree

Decorations, guests, presents, eggnog and December 25th have all come and gone and now we are just left with the holiday memories, leftovers and general debris. We know to save our bows and wrapping paper for next year, to keep boxes and packaging for future presents and to reuse what we can for other creative projects. If you have an artificial tree, you’re beginning to think of taking off the tinsel and ornaments and packing it safely away for next year. But if you bought a tree from the lot, you may be a little lost as to what to do with it.

Placing your tree on the side of the road and crossing your fingers is not the best way to go. This year earth 911 has put together the most comprehensive list to date of local recycling centers, reaching out to every city in America with a population of over 30,000. Remember, that just because someone hauls your Christmas tree away, does NOT mean it has been properly recycled; it may still end up in a landfill.

Many cities have curb-side pick-up options, but most have size and condition requirements (all trees must be void of lights, ornaments, tinsel, etc). In other cases, local volunteer organizations, such as the boy scouts, will pick up trees for a small donation. If all else fails, you can cut up the tree yourself and place It in your organic waste trash bin.

Other ideas on how to keep your tree out of a landfill include placing it in your backyard as a bird feeder/refuge, using small branches in your fish tank or aquarium as fish habitats and feeding areas or chipping it yourself and turning it into mulch for your garden.

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