Efficient E-Waste Management: Saving Earth or Saving Money? Or Both?
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Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Give it to someone who can do any of those three things.
Have you updated your mobile or your laptop to a newer model? Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a brand new device that is faster, sleeker and more efficient than the last one.
But, hold on a second. Before you start unboxing your new possession, have you thought about what you’re going to do with the old one? Is it going to be pushed back to some corner of your cupboard or is it going to end up in some landfill? Naah!! Both these options don’t do any good for Planet Earth or your Wallet.
So what do you do? How to get rid of it responsibly and make a buck at the same time? What choices do you have? Find the answers to all these questions and much more, right here.
E-Waste is still Sadly Neglected
We, as a nation, have seen a substantial increase in eco-consciousness. Like trying to limit the use of plastic bags or phasing out tungsten bulbs with newer energy-efficient CFL or LED lights, we have made progress. However, when it comes to handling e-waste, the efforts are next to NIL. Let’s look at the ways to address this silent but deadly issue.
First things first, what is E-Waste? It’s just about E-verything
E-waste is the umbrella term for all electronic products that reach the end of their lifecycle or discarded even before that. This includes anything and everything from mobiles, laptops, tablets, music players to bigger appliances like televisions, desktops, air-conditioners, printers and much more.
According to a report by the UN, India was the fifth largest generator of e-waste in the world for the year 2014. If this does not scare you, then these statistics by ASSOCHAM might; the amount keeps on growing at a rapid rate of 30% every year. With mountains of e-waste piling up, isn’t it time to address the growing issue and find sustainable ways to deal with it?
We can hear you asking “What’s the big deal about these gadgets, after all, don’t we dump kilos of garbage out every day?”
The difference is that electronics require plenty more resources to manufacture when compared to your food, clothing and other daily use products. For instance, even a tiny microchip, smaller than your finger nail requires around 66 pounds of raw materials to make it. And your mobile requires massive amounts of energy even before you turn it on.
This energy that is spent for making the device and the raw materials used for manufacturing it cannot be reclaimed when you dump it in a landfill.
The Ugly Side of E-Waste
If you assumed that e-waste is nothing but a space-sucker, then you’re wrong. It’s highly noxious, and carelessly discarded devices release harmful carcinogens. Toxic materials like barium, lead, and mercury from these gadgets leach into the groundwater table and also pollute the air. Several e-waste workers suffer from deadly respiratory diseases. It’s not only a dirty but also a dangerous issue. Sadly, the regulations haven’t kept up with the speed of burgeoning e-waste.
Things get Uglier: On the Trail of E-WasteM
The e-waste you throw out in your upscale apartment in Mumbai, Delhi, or Bengaluru reaches e-waste dumps in the poorest slums of the country or sometimes even journeys across the ocean to reach countries like Ghana, Nigeria in Africa. In fact, Agbogbloshie in Ghana is the biggest e-dump site in the whole world.
At these dumping grounds, the e-waste is ripped apart by young kids who salvage the raw material to earn their meagre livings. These slum children have no protective gear and handle these gadgets with their bare hands.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, most of these kids handling e-waste without any safety precautions will contract deadly respiratory diseases or even die from cancer before they reach 30. Isn’t that shocking and horrible?
So, What can you do?
Well, that’s rather easy to answer; don’t discard your electronic goods into the trashcan. The real question is what you do with it. It’s simple; do anything but throw it away. Here are a few things that you can do with your E-waste. Following these tips; you are not only making your contribution to Save Earth but might save some money too.
Saving Earth and Money go Hand in Hand
Efficient E-Waste Management: The Need of the Hour
1. The Double Benefits of Recycling: Monetary & Environmental
If you find that your device is broken beyond repair and there are no ways to reuse it, then it’s time to unleash the power of recycling. Recycling not only helps you do your bit towards the environment but also helps you earn a few bucks in the process.
Several brands like Samsung, Panasonic, Xiomi have Recycle Programs. You can drop off your broken devices in their service centres and be assured that it will be recycled responsibly. Sites like “Karma Recycling, Budli, Cashify, MOSWAP, and many others buy your old gadgets or provide a platform where you can sell your old electronic items even offer you cash or reward points in exchange for your old device. An efficient way of saving money and the planet, right?
2. Take Advantage of the Exchange Programs
When buying online, sellers such as Flipkart have exchange offers for many models of phones, televisions and laptops. These can be utilised when you are upgrading your mobile phone or other gadgets. You can just give your old gadgets to the delivery personnel while receiving your new mobiles. This not only helps you do your bit for the environment but also helps you get a discount of a few thousands of rupees on the price of your new gadget.
3. Upcycling: Give your Old Electronics a New Home & a New Life
Take a look at your home. You are sure to find many gadgets that you haven’t touched for the last six months. These devices simply sit on shelves gathering dust. Not to forget are your old phones, cameras and iPods stashed in drawers, cupboards or forgotten among your other clutter.
Dig out these. Try reselling them on OLX, Quikr, and many such sites. You could use the cash to buy something for yourself or use it for your next upgraded gadget while ensuring that you find a good home for your old gadgets to extend their usage, even if you don’t need them.
4. Transform into a Fixer Upper
“Broken” or “Failed” doesn’t mean the end of the lifecycle for a gadget. For instance, if your vacuum won’t suck efficiently or your blender has gone kaput, don’t just throw it away. Open it up, or get it fixed; find out what’s wrong, and tinker with it to find a solution.
You may be surprised to find that even complicated pieces of equipment are easy to fix once you get the hang of it. Make use of the several repair guides online or check out the millions of YouTube tutorials to guide you. With a few maintenance tricks up your sleeve, you may be successful in keeping them running smoothly for years.
And if you don’t have the confidence or time or inclination to do all that, don’t just give up. There are service companies like Bro4U, Fixy, and many others to your rescue. You might be surprised how these companies can make your machine or gadget work again.
5. Make Smart Purchases
The biggest role you can play in curbing e-waste is by making smart purchases. Instead of buying a low-quality gadget that will end up getting broken soon, opt for high-quality devices with future-proof technologies that run for a long time without it becoming out of date. This way you can hold onto your devices for a longer time.
For instance, if you change your phone every year or lesser; buy a phone that is advanced enough to last you 2-3 years or more. It may cost you more initially but will surely save you from spending money on a new gadget every year while ensuring you are throwing away one less gadget a year to be consumed by planet earth.
Donate if you cannot think of Anything Else
If saving money doesn’t interest you, earning good deeds surely would. There are many NGOs that would love to take your gadget and use it for children and women to introduce them to the digital world. So, that laptop, that’s not been in use because it does not have a fast enough processor anymore; donate it to an NGO and let them make better use of it.
Do your bit to stop the ever rising tide of e-waste. Make use of these smart ways to not only save Planet Earth but also make a few bucks. Don’t stop with that. Try to spread the awareness among your friends and family. After all,
It’s a Small Planet and Our ONLY Home!
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