Climaneed blog - Impact of E-waste on the Climate: Here’s How to Reduce E-waste

Impact of E-waste on the Climate: Here’s How to Reduce E-waste

Around 20-25 million tons of e-waste is produced annually in different parts of the world. This includes the waste from computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices that are either dumped by customers into the landfill or aren’t usable. China, especially, has a large volume of e-waste. Some part of this waste is there to be recycled, while a considerable portion of this waste will be sent to the landfills in Africa and Asian countries. Although waste materials, like plastic and metal, are often sent to the recycling center and are reused in creative ways, we have fewer programs for electronic waste recycling. 

It has become a prevalent problem. The increased rate of e-waste disposal has led to an increased level of greenhouse gasses, which in turn affects the climate and the environment in many ways. 

The biggest problem with electronic waste is that it releases harmful chemicals that pose a threat to our health and the climate when burned. These chemicals include aluminum, carbon dioxide, polybrominated biphenyls, and more. Not only the disposal but the production of electronics also results in the emission of carbon dioxide in large volumes.  E-waste is slowly destroying Earth. Considering the amount of e-waste generated annually and its impact on the environment, it isn’t hard to see why eco-friendly people are worried about buying electronic equipment. Only 20% of the world’s electronic waste is recycled, while the remaining items are disposed of in landfills.

And while there are several policies designed to make the electronic manufacturing process environment-friendly, these methods won’t work until people spend on electronics wisely. Here, we have compiled a list of the ways that people, on an individual level, can embrace in order to reduce e-waste. Let’s take a look:

E-waste in a container

Sell or Donate your E-waste

What’s the first thing you do when an electronic item is not working? A vast majority of consumers throw it in the trash and replace them with a brand-new product. It is not only a waste of money but throwing your electronic items that are still in good condition will increase your carbon footprint. You should rather resell the product on eBay or Craigslist. 

There are hundreds of thousands of customers who will gladly buy your electronic item at your asking price. If the product has been damaged beyond repair, send it to the recycling center so that they can take out the part that can be used for manufacturing other electronic accessories. Or, you can donate your electronic products to a charity. For example, if you are buying a new smartphone, give your existing mobile to someone who needs a smartphone. You can also sell it to a mobile shop. 

Some websites give you a comparison chart showing the price of the used electronic gadgets and how much you can get from reselling these items. Or, what else you can do with the parts of the electronic gadgets. The batteries, SD cards, and other parts of your mobile can be reused. In fact, some companies can recycle your mobiles to reduce their impact on the environment. All you have to do is find a recycling center and send your device so it can be repurposed or recycled efficiently. 

Buy Only if You Need It – Do not turn it into E-waste

Do you even think about whether you need an item before buying it? Despite being expensive, electronic items are sold quickly. When a new gadget is launched, people buy it immediately. It doesn’t matter if they need it or not. In fact, people take loans to finance their purchases. There’s nothing wrong with buying a new gadget, but the question is, “do you really need it”? 

For example, let’s say you are planning to buy a new laptop for gaming requirements. Your current laptop doesn’t have the software that supports the latest video games. You don’t need a new laptop just for a few games, especially when your existing laptop is in good condition. All you have to do is upgrade the software of your current device, and you can play as many games as you want. It will save you money on unnecessary electronic purchases and reduce your carbon footprint. 

You should be a sensible consumer when it comes to electronic items. Do not indulge in impulsive shopping. Plan your purchases and buy these items only if you can’t do without them.

E-waste turned into art

Repurpose Your E-waste

Do you know a new smartphone can produce up to 100 kilos of carbon dioxide per piece? Some people have a habit of switching their mobiles every year. Whenever there’s a new model in the market, they sell the old one or, worse, throw them in the trash. If you want to do your part for the planet, you need to change this habit. If the old smartphone is working fine, don’t buy a new model. Buy it when it’s an absolute necessity. 

For instance, if you are having trouble working with your old laptop because of its outdated processor or low RAM, you should buy a new one. But, don’t throw the old devices in the trash. You can repurpose them in many ways. If it’s a smartphone, you can use it for GPS or games. Or, you can install a music streaming app and use it to listen to your favorite songs while traveling. Old mobiles can also be repurposed into remote controls for your HVAC units or used for monitoring security cameras.

Send Your Electronics to Recycling Center

Some electronic retailers have a recycling program. They accept the used electronic devices for recycling. In fact, they give you a gift card in return. So, if you send any electronic gadget to a recycling center, you will either get a small amount or a replacement. Check with your retailer if they have such programs. If not, you can send your electronic items to any recycling center in your state. 

Before you throw your mobiles in the trash, check with your state authorities to know if you are allowed to dispose of the electronics. Some states have put restrictions on the gadgets you can and can’t throw in the trash. For example, mobiles with batteries that contain hazardous waste can’t be discarded. The best part is that these batteries can be easily recycled. 

Buy Energy Star Rated Models

Energy Star Rated appliances consume less electricity and save you tons of money on your utility bills. So, the next time you purchase a new electrical appliance, consider buying the energy star-rated model. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a rebate for customers who send old electrical gadgets for recycling and buy a new energy star model. Now, you can get an energy star model for washing machines, dryers, microwaves, and nearly every electrical appliance. You should look for energy-efficient devices to save electricity and lower your energy bills. 

Learn about the Raw Materials Used for the Production of Electronic Appliances

You will be a more sensible consumer of electrical gadgets when you know the parts used for the manufacturing of these appliances, whether you are buying a dishwasher or a laptop, conduct research on the materials used for the production of these gadgets before you buy them. 

Some materials can be reused and recycled easily, while others are not fit for recycling. When you no longer need the device, you will have to throw it in the trash if its parts are not designed to be recycled. Similarly, some electronic gadgets contain toxic materials that can have a significant impact on the environment and the climate if burned. The more you learn about the manufacturing process and materials used in the production of the gadgets, the better the decisions you will make. 

Switch to Environment-friendly Alternatives

Do you remember the time when pen drives and memory sticks were used to store data? Some people still use these devices for storage. Again, it is a waste of money and an unnecessary purchase. With multiple cloud storage services available on the internet free of charge, we don’t see any viable use of additional memory devices. 

No matter how large your files are, cloud devices can store the data easily. The best part is that you can have access to this data whenever required. Plus, you don’t have to rely on any physical tool for accessing photos, videos, or large files. Just open Dropbox or whichever cloud service you are using and find the file. Some cloud storage services are available for free, while others come with a paid plan. You can use the free trial to see which one works the best.

Bottom Line

How you buy electronic items, how often you replace them, and what you do with the old electronic gadgets play an important role in your environmental impact. Small decisions, like avoiding unnecessary purchases and sending your old smartphones and laptops to a recycling center instead of sending them to the landfill, can make a positive impact on the environment. 

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