If you missed the U.N's report on the science of climate change this week, the outlook was a little less than positive. And while most of the suggested changes target larger institutions and initiatives, there are still everyday changes that we as individuals can make to reduce our own carbon footprint, starting with something as simple as our electronics.
What is e-waste?
E-waste is quite simply waste from electronic products that have come to the end of their "useful" life. Everything from laptops to fax machines to smartphones can fall into this category. And it's no surprise that e-waste volumes are surging, growing by up to 21% in the past five years, as we've been living in the era of "the latest and greatest," whereby new, upgraded devices are being unveiled each year, leaving the previous generations in the dumpster.
While the volume of waste itself is concerning, there are other factors to consider---such as the fact that only about 17.4% of e-waste produced reaches formal recycling facilities, leaving the rest to be managed by informal workers (even children), with harmful materials being recovered and improperly handled.
So what can I do to reduce my e-waste?
While these numbers seem scary, the solutions available are actually, thankfully, quite simple. Let's start with the obvious:
1. Don't upgrade unless it's absolutely necessary
One of the more obvious solutions is to simply not waste at all by continuing to use the electronics you currently have. While a new generation of phones, laptops, tablets, and TVs is introduced nearly every year, it doesn't always equate a worthwhile upgrade. For the most part, the differences between the new and previous generation are marginal, and don't always add up to the hefty price tag. So if your current device is treating you well, skip the upgrade, and save the planet as well as your savings account.
2. Look for refurbished
If you're several generations behind, or perhaps your device simply broke and you need to replace it, consider looking for a refurbished model instead. Most sellers will have a refurbished section on their site (including Amazon!), with certified refurbished products that have been returned to the original manufacturer and inspected/fixed according to the manufacturer's standard. They work just as well as a new model, with perhaps some minor cosmetic flaws. But it won't contribute to the global excess of electronic materials, as it will technically be recycled, and won't cost you as much as the new model—a win-win.
Of course, a more traditional way of doing this is to simply find a used model locally, and with the popularity of services like Facebook Marketplace rising in the past few years, it's easier than ever to find exactly what you're looking for.
3. Recycle or hand down your old one
If you have decided to upgrade or replace your current device, don't let it sit in a pile in storage, or tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Many retailers offer recycling programs for electronics of all kinds, and you can find the nearest one to you using this convenient list.
Better yet, hand down your old device, whether it be a phone, laptop, or console, to a family member or friend who would find more use for it than you currently do.
And remember, setting up that phone with free service is easy with TextNow's Nationwide Talk & Text coverage, so that a monthly bill becomes one less thing you have to worry about.