My laptop died last year. After shedding some tears, I decided to buy a new one, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the old laptop. I didn’t know anyone who wanted a six-year-old, certifiably broken laptop, but it seemed silly to take a thousand-dollar piece of equipment with one broken part and suddenly declare it landfill material. And I was pretty sure that my laptop had rare chemicals and metals in it — which could be dangerous, or even valuable.
Old electronics, called “E-Waste”, are the fastest-growing source of trash in America. According to the EPA, recycling rates are pretty low, around 25%, and lots more of this stuff is just accumulating in our homes. Electronics are often full of unhealthy stuff, like lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury. And furthermore, most “broken” electronics have plenty of good, working parts in them.
Sounds like a good case for recycling! Lots of stores and manufacturers now offer free take-back programs. (Look one up near you!) Plus, Staples has just joined Best Buy in agreeing to take back, for free, almost any old piece of electronics for recycling — regardless of where you bought it.
So: next time you see that old cell phone banging around in your desk drawer, consider taking it for recycling.