In 2021, the world produced a sickening amount of 57.4 million metric tons of e-waste.
On paper, it’s just a number. Rolls right off the tongue, and doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. And why should it? An average person cannot instantly grasp just how monstrously massive this number is.
But allow me to help you visualize that. 57.4 million metric tons is:
Doesn’t seem too innocent anymore, does it, the number?
Now here is another number: 347 million metric tons.
It represents the total amount of e-waste that we have generated over the years, which is still present in our landfills and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Want to know how massive this number is?
More than five times the weight of the Great Wall of China.
Now that we’ve properly contextualized this massive issue, the natural follow-up question would be: what can we do about it?
Glad you asked.
While the e-waste problem, admittedly, is a complex one — from corporate greed to relentless consumerism, multiple factors play a role — it’s a problem where individual action can bring about significant change.
For example, not rushing to buy every new Apple product that hits the shelves and using your current device for just one more year can result in a global reduction of around 47 million metric tons of e-waste annually.
It will also force electronic manufacturers to eliminate the culture of obsolescence they’ve created and produce items that have a longer lifespan and more opportunities to service and repair current devices.
But that’s not all.
Below, we are sharing 10 more ways you can manage your electronics more responsibly and adopt conscious consumption habits.
The dopamine rush we get when we buy a sleek new iPhone or iPad can be, quite frankly, pretty awesome.
But the rush we get is temporary and the consequences for the planet can be long-lasting.
Choosing to use your devices for longer, buying fewer devices in the first place, and then sending old ones for recycling can drastically lessen the burden of global e-waste on Earth.
When you have fewer electronic products at home, it can be pretty difficult to lose track of them and accidentally buy duplicates.
But what if you get one as a gift?
Simple: donate or sell.
If you decide to buy a new product and still have an old one, in perfectly good condition, at home, try looking for nonprofits that accept old electronic items.
Take advantage of buy-back and trade-in programs at stores like BestBuy, Samsung, and more, where you can return your old devices to the store or the manufacturer for responsible disposal and recycling.
These programs also offer cashback, discounts, and other rewards for trading-in old electronic goods.
Sell your unused electronics to companies that offer money in exchange for products. You can also buy refurbished products from these companies instead of buying brand new, to further facilitate a circular economy.
Find out about the recycling options in your region and share them with your community. Across the world, people are looking for novel technologies to solve the e-waste crisis and creative recycling can be a good way to start.
It’s a good thing to use your electronics for as long as possible, but if you are hoping to sell the item when you no longer need it, you may have to do it sooner than later, so the latest software updates may not render the old hardware obsolete.
Cyber security and e-waste are interconnected issues. Irresponsible disposal of e-waste into bins poses a huge threat to data and cyber security and must be taken into account whenever you look for recycling options.
For the best way forward, store all your data on the cloud and remove everything from the device before you send it to an end-of-life facility like Hummingbird International.
Preserve what you have by performing consistent servicing and maintenance. Whenever you face an issue, instead of just throwing away the device, go online and look for ways to fix the issue.
Dispose of computers and cell phones at recycling plants like Hummingbird International that perform professional IT disposition. It ensures that your data will be removed from the device before they are sent for recycling, so there’s no threat of any breaches or data security issues.