Ecycling Gives Electronics a New Purpose

By Angela Tague in Thinking Sustainably

Your kids have access to a handful of electronics each day. From cellphones and tablets to music players and cameras, electronic devices are commonplace for both learning and playtime.

But what should you do with these items when they break or become outdated? The actions you take could affect your environment and the planet as a whole. When cleaning out your house, show your kids that tossing electronics in the trash isn’t a good idea—and that “ecycling” is a smarter option.

What is Ecycling, Exactly?

When an electric device becomes obsolete, isn’t functioning properly, or is no longer wanted, consider giving it a new purpose instead of throwing it away. By keeping it out of the landfill, you’re reducing unnecessary waste. And, in most areas, it’s illegal to place battery-operated items into the garbage. Batteries can leak or burst, causing safety and health concerns.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, electronics can be dismantled, and the internal plastic, glass, and metal components can be recycled—which reduces the energy and pollution involved in mining and processing the materials from the earth. The EPA notes, “For every million cellphones we recycle, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.”

That’s pretty remarkable. When explaining the importance of ecycling to your kids, you can put it into terms they’d understand and enjoy. You could say you’re saving those pounds of cooper for pennies, gold for a crown, and silver for utensils.

ecyclingWays to Recycle Electronics

Skip the trash bin and send those unwanted electronics to a new home. There are organizations across the country that focus on ecycling the internal elements, while others will refurbish, update, and donate the items to someone in need. It’s not uncommon to hear of programs giving cellphones to victims of abuse for safety, tablets to children in low-income communities, or laptops to nonprofit organizations on tight budgets that focus on educating children. Check into one of these donation programs:

  • Dell Reconnect: Goodwill and Dell have partnered up to recycle both working and broken electronics. Use this map to find a location near you.
  • Komputers 4 R Kids: This group in Southern California accepts computers, stereos, computer monitors, printers, and many more items for ecycling.
  • The Wireless Foundation: Donate your old cellphones to be recycled or refurbished and sold. The profits are used to end family violence.

If your electronic device isn’t good enough to pass on, recycle it responsibly. Best Buy offers electronics and appliance recycling at its stores, and hopes to collect two billion pounds of e-waste by 2020 to ensure these products are properly disposed of once they’re deemed no longer useful. You can also use the Earth911 look-up system to find a place to recycle electronics near you.

Is there a good spot to ecycle in your town? Add to our growing list by tweeting @TomsofMaine!

Image source: Flickr | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Teaching your kids how to dispose of unwanted electronics now will keep dozens of future devices out of the landfill. Once they have the mindset that recycling and donating are options, they'll make smart decisions long into the future.