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Published on October 22nd, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans

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Recycling Electronics

The thought of our homes and workspace being littered with harmful, toxic waste is appalling.  What we don’t realize is that just about everyone lives among some of the most environmentally hazardous material there is—our computers and electronics.  Some of the materials that make up components in our household electronics are lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and PVC.  While components containing these materials sit on our desks or in our living rooms, they are relatively harmless.  However, once they have outlived their usefulness and we decide to throw them out, they transition from useful technology to ecological tragedy.

About 40 percent of all landfill space is taken up by electronic devices.  Although electronics are ecologically harmless in our homes, when they sit in landfills for years, the dangerous materials that make up their interior seep into the groundwater reservoirs and leads to the contamination of local fresh water supplies.  At one point, electronic waste was shipped to third world countries for disposal, which led to impoverished residents living amongst the waste.  Cancer and mortality rates in these areas resultingly skyrocketed.

The practice of green computing and eco friendly technology encourages people to recycle their old computers and electronics when they become outdated or in need of repair.  Much of the technology we throw away can actually be refurbished and used by schools in developing nations.  You can recycle an old computer by contacting your solid waste authority with questions about electronic drop-offs.  Many computer manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Apple offer buy back programs that allow consumers to recycle old computers for a discount on a new system.





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