One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Treasure

There are many different ways that one can recycle. Newspapers, tin cans, and plastic water bottles are items most commonly found in the blue bin. Old electronics may be something that one would think to throw to the curb for the garbage truck to pick up, what you may not know is that these items are not garbage. Electronics contain valuable metals and components that can be used again in another manufacturing process. This e-waste contains hazardous materials like lead, mercury and cadmium. They create a threat to the environment if buried in landfill. Recycling electronic items have great benefits for ourselves and the environment.

Many electronics contain hazardous metals and toxins that can severely damage our health, wild life, and environment.

Lead:

Can be found as solder on printed circuit boards and in television and computer monitor glass. Lead can cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, blood systems, and kidneys in humans. Lead has also been shown to have severely negative effects on fetal development and on nursing infants.

Mercury:

Can be found in all fluorescent lamps, printed circuit boards, laptops and LCD screen backlights. Mercury in lakes and rivers converts to methylated mercury in sediments. The toxin can then accumulate in living organisms and travel up the food chain. Mercury can adversely affect a baby’s growing brain and nervous system. Adults can suffer organ damage, mental impairment, and a variety of other health problems.

 Cadmium:

Can be found in chip resistors and semiconductors. Cadmium and several cadmium-containing compounds are carcinogens that can induce various types of cancer. Cadmium can also accumulate in, and harm, the kidneys.

TVs, computers, refrigerators, cell phones, they all have one thing in common; they all become e-waste.  With how rapid technology is evolving, these objects are

upgraded all the time. With these upgrades the old items usually just sent to the curb. But there are places that can refurbish certain parts and be used in making new or creating spare parts for electronics. These locations are environmentally responsible recyclers and can be found here, there are plenty different retail, privately owned shops and second hand stores that would gladly take your old electronics.

Another way to recycle is through classified ads, this could be through the newspaper or online.  The easiest online classified is Kijiji. It is free to post and search for items. This site is good because you can also swap or trade items instead of buying new, which in the end benefits our environment.  This site is also great because you can find things from anywhere in Canada, even Nunavut.  There is another site called Gazelle that pays you for your old electronics. This company takes the most common electronics such as cell phones, iPods, and laptops and looks to refurbish them so others can reuse them.

What we can do:

1. Reduce the consumption of products that in the end become e-waste by maintaining older equipment by replacing damaged or worn parts. Or by purchasing higher quality products with a longer life.

2. Reuse products by selling them or donating them to others.

3. Recycle your unwanted electronics with an environmentally responsible recycler who will either refurbish them for reuse, or break them down to commodity level where they can be used again as raw materials.

By recycling electronics we can lower the amount of e-waste in landfill sites removing toxins that damage our environment and ourselves. This allows us to create a more sustainable environment for generations to come.

 

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