Electronic waste (e-waste) is a major and growing problem around the world wasting millions of tonnes of precious metals and causing mountains of toxic waste (read about it here). But there are ways we can enjoy our mobile phones and still help reduce e-waste. Here are some of them:
Reduce e-waste when buying it:
- Choose more sustainable electronics like those in the EPEAT Registry or Ethical Consumer. Energy Star appliances are more environment-friendly and consume less electricity thereby saving money on your electric bill
- Buy goods that can be repaired – see how
- Buy better-quality, durable products like the Fairphone (read about it here)
- Buy used, and dramatically reduce the amount of energy and resources needed for you to own this item. Or get it for free – use a community sharing group like Freecycle
- Don’t buy it – if you don’t need it. According to CompareMyMobile.com UK residents own more than 76.8 million unused handsets, with a combined value of £9.4 billion.
Reduce e-waste by making it last:
- Learn to fix your broken electronics – Ifixit.com has more than 50,000 manuals and 150,000 solutions. Or take it to a repair cafe
- Consider an extended warranty, or an insurance-backed service contract. Although this adds to the purchase price you could extend the life for your electronic products from around two years to at least seven.
- Look after your stuff! Take care of your mobile phone, get a case to protect it and be careful not to drop it or lose it.
Reduce e-waste at disposal:
- Reuse it. Plastics in e-waste can recycled into garden furniture. Battery components can reused in other batteries. Metals may utilised in jewellery and automotive components (see here). All the gold, silver and bronze medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were made entirely from recycled electronics donated by the Japanese public (read about it here)
- Recycle it. Find an e-waste recycler certified through the Basel Action Network (BAN). BAN is a non-profit organisation devoted to certifying e-Stewards, recyclers who are committed to safely and responsibly recycling electronics
- Donate it. Organisations like Cell Phones for Soldiers and Verizon’s HopeLine program will make sure your old cell phone makes its way to a worthy cause. Other organisations, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, can sell your used electronics and use the profits to educate and empower others who need help