What Is E-Waste and Why Is It a Problem

Today more than ever, people are becoming more concerned with recycling. We have trash bins to separate plastic from paper, and even glass bottles by their color. This is a great effort by society to create a cleaner more sustainable planet for all to enjoy.

But there is one item we are not recycling that is often overlooked, our electronics. A simple term for this trash is “e-waste”. So what is e-waste and why is it a problem?

What Is E-Waste?

E-waste includes any electronic device in your home which is nearing the end of its use, including printers, televisions, telephones, stereos and much, much more. Improper disposal of these items can be very harmful to environment and more importantly to people.

Why Is E-Waste a Problem?

Though we may not think about this often, many electronic devices contain hazardous materials that are toxic and lethal. According to Giles Slade in his 2007 article “iWaste”, e-waste contributed to 70% of all the toxic waste in American landfills while only occupying 2% of the space. Much of the hazardous waste accumulates from televisions and monitors containing cathode ray tubes, LCD screens, and plasma televisions. As these hazardous items are sitting in landfills, they begin to fall apart exposing the toxins to the environment which can then run into water systems, seep into the ground, and in some instances can be carried away by the wind.

Solutions to the E-Waste Predicament
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Now that an understanding of what is e-waste and why it is a problem has been laid out, solutions will follow. Rather than throwing away your unwanted electronic devices reuse the parts that are still up-to-date or donate the device to someone who needs it. Many families around the world, including those in first world countries do not have many of the “basic” necessities that many are fortunate to have. So rather than throwing away another item that will take up space in a landfill and release hazardous waste into the environment, reuse it for a better purpose. There are also many organizations and programs that you may donate to that help those in need such as Goodwill’s Reconnect Program and Cell Phones for Soldiers.

The second option to get rid of unwanted electronics is recycling them. This may sound difficult and strenuous, just like separating regular trash, but there is a very simple solution to recycle electronics. There is no specific bin in which you will deposit the glass from the monitor that you spent hours trying to break off cleanly, or a specific bin for wires that you stripped away for days. Simply search for a local recycling center that accepts electronics through one of the many websites on the internet such as the Electronic Industries Alliance. Once you find a location close to you, you can go drop off all your unwanted electronics and they will take care of the rest.

This may all sound like another hassle, but properly disposing of electronic devices is crucial for the environment as well as for society to continue living happily. So next time you buy a new television or computer, don’t throw away your old one, reuse and recycle it.

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