This blog post was written by Hipcycle Intern Extraordinaire, Evan Hopkins. Would you like to intern for Hipcycle? Let us know!
Have you ever wondered what becomes of your old computer monitors, hard drives, and various electronic thingamajigs? Seeing that between 300 million and 400 million electronic items are dumped every year, it’s very likely that these items up in a garbage dump. But don’t blame yourself; many are uninformed about the harm that old electronics present to the environment.
Seeing that we are constantly making advances in technology, there is an incredibly high turn over rate in electronics. In fact, 85% of our old electronics end up in landfills. The old computers, TVs, and various electronics that litter landfills present a huge environmental risk, because they tend to contain large amounts of lead. Even worse, newer flat panel computer monitors can contain mercury, which is incredibly poisonous. It’s become so common to throw out old electronics that the United States has become the world leader in the amount of e-waste produced; throwing away about three million TONS each year! Even more troubling, if this trend continues, the amount of e-waste being produced could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade.
With troubling numbers like these, it’s easy to see why recycling e-waste (or e-cycling, if you prefer) is so important. To encourage e-cycling, there are companies that will take your old electronic doodads off your hands for no charge. One of these companies, Hewlett-Packard, has recycled over 750 million pounds of electronics since 1995. These electronics may be melted down to mine them of their minerals (such as copper, aluminum, lead, and gold,) or they may be repurposed, such as using keyboards to create decorative frames (which we have available here on Hipcycle! Hint hint, wink wink)
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we still have quite a ways to go until we’ve made a significant change in how we discard our electronics. Make sure to do your part by exploring alternatives to getting rid of your e-waste!
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