There's a closet in our house that's piled with stuff like old cell-phone chargers, various video games that my husband has never played and an oddly high number of headphones. Beyond compulsively tidying it, I never knew what to do with all this electronic junk, or e-waste, until I heard about the local electronics recycling day sponsored by the city of Decatur. And yeah, we actually did recycle our Mac one year, but it was one of those old desktops that resembled a TV. Nothing exciting enough to get freegans dumpster diving.
E-waste may not be the most shocking item on this week's list of top 5 surprisingly recyclable items, but it feels irresponsible not to mention it, especially since it's a huge and growing problem for landfills. As our days become more digital, the electronics clogging our landfills swell, along with the amount of mercury, lead and other toxic chemicals leaching from these devices into the groundwater. Sometimes e-waste is shunted to developing countries where it may be scavenged for recycled parts and burned, typically under unsafe conditions for laborers.
I read on the related FAQs for our local electronics recycling that Decatur vets the vendors it uses to ensure that everything is recycled responsibly, rather than eventually being dumped in some domestic or international landfill, but obviously that's not always the case.
Ready to recycle? The Electronics TakeBack Coalition will help you find a responsible recycler in your state here or tell you which manufacturers take back their products here. You can find similar information at eRecycle.org, or, as always, the trusty folks behind Earth911 can help you, too. Who knows, if you're super cutting-edge, your "old" laptop may find a home at a local school, and your cell phone may be welcomed by a nearby women's shelter. The options are there, so go easy on your e-waste.