Those Electronics Don’t Belong in the Trash

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

In our modern world, it’s nearly impossible to go without electronics. They’re built into every component of our lives. Whether it is the cell phone we use as our alarm clock in the morning, the computer we use to write and read content like this, or even the electric cars that are beginning to power our commutes. Electronics are inescapable, and for good reason. They power lives. They offer greater connection, allowing us to do things our grand parents couldn’t have dreamed of.

Though, there’s one important thing that we tend to forget about; what happens once these electronics have finished serving their purpose? I have seen countless drawers over the years at friends’ houses with a collection of cellphones, MP3 players, and spent batteries that we no longer knew what to do with. However, these are all items that still have value if you dispose of them properly.

You’ve probably seen symbols like this one on various electronics around the house:

WEEE: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

This logo is put on electronics to try and communicate exactly what it looks like: Don’t put these items in the trash with everyhting else. This logo, also called WEEE, stands for Waste from Electrical and Electric Equipment. And you guessed it, the logo goes on electrical equipment.

Rolled out in the early 2000’s in Europe, the WEEE directive to put these logos on everything was started for an important reason. Not only is it incredibly wasteful for us to just throw our electronics in the trash, they can be dangerous. Many of the batteries that power the items we use daily are full of toxic chemicals that can leach into our environment and water ways.

In addition to this, many of these products have valuable resources within them that can be recycled. Those toxic and dangerous chemicals often need to be mined. When we recycle out batteries, we can harvest the valuable resources in the recycling process and reduce the amount of additonal mining we need to do. But keep in mind these items don’t belong in your curbside recycling bin.

The most important question: If not in the trash or our regular recycling, where do these items belong? Well, lucky for us, there are electronic waste facilities all over. One of the easiest places to start are the same stores that you buy your electronics from. Think of places like Best Buy or your local hardware stores. There are other great resources like Call2Recycle and Earth911, which both have a ton of additional information and a recycling location finder.

Realistically you aren’t going to run to the store every time you have a battery to get rid of. This is why it’s important to have a place to store them in the meantime in your home. Try to create a place where battery terminals won’t touch. Think of how batteries are bought, all on their side without the ends touching. Even though the batteries don’t have the power to charge your devices, they can still be dangerous when all compounded together. Having a storage space set up will make it easier every time you have another battery or old cell phone to toss.

Have any ideas on getting rid of electronics that works well for you? Share them below! New ideas are always appreciated.