Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Nipping it in the bud: How not to accumulate e-waste

From work to play, almost every aspect of modern life has gone digital. 

The pace of digitalisation has accelerated so rapidly, especially during the pandemic, that there’s nary a corner of Earth that hasn’t been touched by technology.

Unfortunately, while digital devices have helped us stay connected 24-7, they’ve resulted in a massive electronic waste problem. It’s also the reason why 14 October has been declared E-Waste Day.

What’s e-waste? E-waste refers to discarded electronic appliances and devices such as mobile phones, computers, and even televisions that get improperly sent to landfills or shipped off, sometimes illegally, to dumps in developing countries.

Electronics contain loads of chemicals, and when these gadgets are dumped incorrectly, they leak toxic substances which could adversely harm both people and the environment.

Thus far, many solutions to the global problem have focused on how to deal with discarded devices. But preemptive action could also help nip the issue in the bud.

Here are a few deterrent measures you can take to address e-waste:

Limit your electronics

How many times have you purchased a new phone just because it’s the latest model? Or a TV because you’ve been sold about new features you’d probably never use or need? 

No one’s saying electronics aren’t a necessity. They are. But modern society’s taken to amassing more gadgets than folks actually need. The solution, thus, is to limit what you buy

For example, do you really need an e-book reader when you have both a phone and tablet that perform the same task just as well?

Reuse, reuse and reuse

Certain tech gadgets are designed to last for ages. But manufacturers, for obvious reasons, tend not to make longevity a selling point.

So think about whether you really need to discard that desktop, or do you want to just because a shiny new version’s come out.

Even if your devices aren’t working well, it doesn’t automatically mean you should bin them. Perhaps they can be repaired, refurbished or upgraded?

Indeed, the “take, make, use, reuse” approach to tech products is increasingly being touted by both activists and governments as one of the best ways to promote sustainability and solve the e-waste crisis.


Sustainability 101: The Growing Problem Of E-Waste

Buy second hand

On the subject of reusing gadgets and gizmos, you may want to consider a reconditioned second-hand device.

There’re numerous myths around second-hand electronics, including that they’re substandard, faulty, and more prone to breaking down. But these concerns are far from legit.

Indeed, when it comes to certain products, customers have given refurbishment a big thumbs up!

However, to avoid disappointment, you should try to purchase from companies or individuals who specialise in refurbished tech.

Research before buying 

Assuming that a refurbished device is out of the question and new is the only option, ensure that you’re getting the best possible product.

This doesn’t mean shelling out a ridiculous amount of cash, though.

Do some research beforehand. Some of the things you should read up on are the features, expected lifespans and energy efficiency of devices.

Energy star ratings on labels and stickers can also clue you in on the environmental friendliness of products.

You might also want to learn about the manufacturing processes as some producers employ more sustainable practices than others.

Make smart decisions

When it comes to surplus e-devices, consider all your options carefully. 

Recycling electronics — or e-cycling — through trusted facilitators is one possibility. But you could also easily donate and/or re-sell devices. 

Granted, giving away or selling excess electronics isn’t going to solve the e-waste problem so much as delay it. But it does ensure that fewer devices are being purchased.

You could also think about re-appropriating devices for other functions. For example, a surplus phone might still be good enough to serve as a video and music player or a universal remote. 

So remember – while technology is wonderful, one can have too much of a good thing. Something to keep in mind the next time you decide to buy that shiny new gadget. 


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  1. […] consider extending the life of electronics by refurbishing them instead of junking them in landfills that aren’t designed for […]


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