With the march of progress, many of us are frequently upgrading our electronics, or at least replacing those that stop working. But what about all those discarded gadgets? They often contain toxic materials, as well as valuable components that can be reused.
The Consumer Electronics Association offers several tips to reduce e-waste, while preserving your identity and sensitive information from would-be thieves. Let's take a look:
1. Turn in the Old
Most major consumer electronics manufacturers and many retailers have reliable, nationwide recycling programs. For instance, Best Buy's Take Back program, available in all of its U.S. stores, accepts all electronics, regardless of point-of-purchase. Also, many cities and towns have instituted community electronics recycling programs and events. Check out myGreenElectronics.org or the EPA's Website Plug-In to eCycling for a complete list of programs near your home.
2. Verify Your Recycler
There are several recognized certification programs for e-waste recyclers who are willing to use safe, market-driven recycling methods that respond to the needs of consumers, manufacturers and retailers, including the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and the Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling. It is also important for consumers to ask recyclers the process they use to minimize impacts to the environment and community, and to check for certifications on recyclers' Websites before engaging with them.
3. Pay It Forward
Donate your unwanted electronics to charity. CollectiveGood collects used cell phones and donates refurbished phones to underprivileged communities around the globe, while Close the Gap provides reused and refurbished computers to various developing countries.
4. Protect Your Identity
Recycling devices that store personal information, including computers and smart phones, can put you at risk for identity theft. However, there are many services that can help you erase your personal information from these devices, such as Symantec's Wipe Info in Norton Utilities and a free cell phone data eraser tool from Recellular.
5. Buy Green
Many electronics are made from recycled, eco-friendly, and biodegradable materials. Before making a purchase, research the product (and manufacturer) to find eco-friendly models. Many manufacturers post product descriptions online. When it comes to powering your new gadget, you can also minimize unnecessary waste (and get longer-lasting power) by opting for rechargeable batteries over disposable, whenever possible.
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