I am a Nerd Chick, but first and foremost I define myself by one word: Mommy. As a parent of young children, I can’t help but see the world through their eyes. My son celebrates the drive to the park, exclaiming “Look at all the TREES, Mommy! Mommy, there are TEN trees!” I love his pure joy with the world around him, and I would love to preserve that world for his generation and the generations to come. When I look around the house and see the bevy of old techno gadgets, batteries, ink cartridges and electronic toys the kids have outgrown, I wonder: is there a safe way to dispose of these things? We can all help our community by donating, recycling and/or safely disposing of old techno gadgets. Let’s help save the world this Earth Day, one monitor at a time!
Your first stop should be the EPA website for an extensive list of companies that offer take backs, mail-in or even trade-in incentive programs for your e-waste products. For example, Office Depot applies a $2 cash award to your rewards card for each printer ink cartridge you turn in, and Sprint has a “Buy Back” program that gives Sprint customers an account credit for returning eligible Sprint or Nextel model of phones. There are also links to where to recycle any electronic device, like computers, printers, televisions and monitors.
If you’re not sure if you should sell or donate the gadget you’re ready to replace, enter the make and model number at www.ecosquid.com. After answering a few quick questions about the shape it’s in and the parts you have for it, you’ll be provided with a list of options for selling or recycling in your area. The account you create is free, and you can earn points for reselling or recycling your tech that you can use in their gadget store.
Would you like to do something for the environment AND help our servicemen and women? The “Cell Phones for Soldiers” program turns old cell phones into prepaid calling cards for U.S troops stationed overseas. Cards are given to the soldiers’ families to stay in touch with their loved-ones in the field. You can donate any cell phone by visiting http://cellphonesforsoldiers.com and clicking on “Donate a Phone” to get a pre-paid mailing label, or find local drop sites in your area. Before donating your used cell phone, just make sure that your personal data has been removed. Security experts recommend that you first log out of all internet-based remote accounts the phone is linked to, then “factory reset” your handset before passing it on. If you’re not transferring the SIM card to another handset, you’ll want to step on it, crush it or chop it up with scissors.
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop to recycle and donate to help others in your community, you can donate locally to charities like the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Many are considered e-waste certified, so they can properly dispose of any gadgets deemed un-sellable. Proceeds from working gadgets you donate help families in need in your local community, and any donations you make are tax-deductible. Go to www.salvationarmy.org and follow the locations link on the left side of the page, or http://locator.goodwill.org/ to locate a drop-off center near you.
Lastly, one of the best tech-savvy ways to help the environment is to consider waiting before you run out and buy that new gadget. I know, I know, it’s hard to pass up the shiny new toy (even harder to convince the kids to!), but holding out for the second, or even third, round of a product gives the manufacturer time to work out any development kinks. Buying later can save you money as most manufacturers will lower the price on the first generation gadget when they release a new version. The old saying, “patience is a virtue” can reduce electronic waste and save you a bit of cash too!