With the new year upon us, there are no doubt plenty of plans in place for changes both big and small. For precisely this reason, January's Tech Dos & Don'ts column will be focused on helping you through the necessary transitions--at least as far as technology is concerned. First up: out with the old, in with the new.
Certainly, both the holidays and the Consumer Electronics Show have inspired a lot of dough-dropping in the gadget space. Many of you probably have a new device or two lying around, which raises the question: what to do with the sad, old tech you're replacing?
According to one study, only 39 percent of consumers are recycling their electronics. That's not nearly enough, especially considering the sometimes hazardous and always environmentally unfriendly material that makes up most of these products. Here are some tips that I hope will help us all reduce the e-waste littering landfills.
First off, DON'T throw your electronics in the trash (bet you could see that coming a mile away). To find recycling centers near you, check out E-cycling Central. The site offers options in every one of the 50 states. For the uberdiligent, there's also a series of questions to ask potential recyclers to check whether they're using the proper disposal methods. (Some other options for searching for locations are EPA eCycling and e-Stewards.)
If none of the options identified by those search offerings are close enough to home, DO check in with your local school and government offices. These establishments can often direct locals to specified locations and dates for dropping off e-waste. Also, DO research the company that manufactured the product in question. Sony for example has partnered with Waste Management to offer a Take-Back program that will even allow you to ship gadgets for recycling--a handy service for those who live in remote areas.
For tech that might still be worth a little something, DON'T overlook the option to sell. Of course, we all know about eBay and Craigslist, but EcoSquid offers a more innovative way to deal with old gadgets, batteries, and cables. If there's no resale value, Ecosquid will help with recycling options as well.
If selling isn't your bag (after all, it can be kind of a hassle), DO donate your unwanted gear to support a cause or organization of your choosing. Personally, I'm fond of Project KOPEG, which receives your used electronics and then donates the corresponding monetary value to a fund that helps soldiers and their families. You can donate to everything from schools to organizations that fight against domestic abuse. Goodwill also runs a great program called Reconnect that accepts certain types of tech.
Finally, with all those old gadgets expunged from your repertoire, DO be forward-thinking and reduce future waste by choosing items that have less of an impact on the earth. An increasing number of companies are churning out products (and packaging) aimed at reducing our ecological footprint when it comes to technology. Indeed, I saw loads of environmentally friendly offerings on display at CES 2011, from electronic cars to headphones with principles.
Have tips of your own for reducing, reusing, and recycling electronics? Please share them in the comment section below.
Last time: Traveling with video