The way technology can make everyday tasks easier is great. The downside though, is that consumer culture is taking a huge toll on the environment in the form of electronic waste.
Millions of phones, computers, cameras, printers, routers, modems, and other pieces of electronic equipment get thrown away every year – and that spells bad news for the planet. Because when e-waste is warmed up, toxic chemicals called greenhouse gases are released into the air, damaging the atmosphere.
A greenhouse gas is one that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. Too much CO2 contributes to climate change, causing the planet to be warmer than it is naturally, and impacting natural systems. This damage is one of the biggest environmental impacts from e-waste.
So, how can we, as consumers, do our bit to help reduce CO2 emissions?
– Purchase second-hand to save the planet
Buying a used device keeps it out of the dump (where it does its damage to the planet) for longer, and doesn’t put a new device into circulation unnecessarily. Yet few of us consider buying second-hand or refurbished electronics as our first option.
Often, a refurbished piece of technology is a cheaper and more customisable option. Hardware replacements are typically easy to come by, and older models (particularly phones and laptops) make use of the same, up-to-date software as newer models. Refurbishment also will generally come with a fresh warranty, keeping you protected for a period of time after purchase. The best benefit of all, of course, is the reduced impact on the environment.
– How Buying Refurbished Electronics Benefits the Environment
According to a U.N. backed study, there were about 45 million metric tons of electronic waste worldwide in 2016. With the constant manufacture of new devices, that figure is set to rise.
Still need convincing about choosing second-hand? Here are 5 important ways that refurbished electronics are a better choice for the planet:
1. Reduces the Impact of Labour and Production
Manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with bad by-products. These include waste, air pollutants, and water pollutants. The large size and cost of labour required also uses a lot of energy.
Constant production and use create a demand for newer products. This leads to the overuse of energy during assembly, creation, and shipping. Overusing energy ultimately increases the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
2. Prevents Toxins from Seeping into the Environment
When discarded computers end up in landfills, they can devastate the environment. Computers contain several toxic components, including lead, chromium, cadmium, and brominated flame-retardants.
When these toxins seep into the soil and contaminate water, they affect plant and animal life, which can be dangerous when consumed by humans. Exposure to lead can cause anemia, brain damage, or at it’s most extreme, death. Cadmium can cause lung damage or death if it leaks into the air. Chromium, on the other hand, causes allergic reactions and liver damage.
3. Lowers the Amount of Electronic Waste
Making products 24/7 increases the amount of electronic waste in landfills. Sadly, it raises the risk of toxins and chemicals spreading – for example, via rainwater – and as a result, contaminating the groundwater and affecting animal and human life.
4. Decreases Demand for Parts and Raw Materials
Refurbished computers reduce the demand for new parts and more raw materials. This means no mining or destroying habitats while searching for rare raw materials. Many reuse programs have evolved from local solid waste reduction goals because reuse requires fewer resources, less energy, and less labour, compared to recycling, disposal, or the manufacture of new products from virgin materials.
As you can see, reuse provides an excellent, environmentally-preferred alternative to other waste management methods, because it reduces air, water and land pollution, limits the need for new natural resources, such as timber, petroleum, fibers and other materials.
If you have electronics in your home, office or school that are headed for the dump, perhaps consider whether they could be re-purposed for use instead. Get in touch with us and do your bit for the planet; we offer collection and recycling services that can help keep toxins out of the ground and electronics in circulation for longer!