E-waste contains all kinds of nasty stuff, including lead, mercury and cadmium. Sadly, much of this waste gets shipped to landfills and smelters in developing countries, exposing tens of thousands of people to harm.
Your first question when seeking to get rid of office equipment should be this: Can someone still use this stuff? If yes, post it on Craigslist or eBay. It’ll be gone in a New York minute.
If it’s beyond repair, you’ve got a few options.
The best is to find a recycler that’s involved in the Basel Action Network’s e-Stewards program, a group of companies that have vowed not to export hazardous waste to poor countries.
Another option is to give it back to the manufacturer. The problem with this approach is you can’t be sure they’ll use a morally sound recycler.
To sum up, here are your options:
Best: If the device is still operational, sell or donate it.
Second best: Find an electronics recycler near you that is an e-Steward member.
Third best: Use the manufacturer’s take back program.
Craigslist.org: Sell or donate your unwanted (but functional) electronics. http://craigslist.org/
E-stewards.org: Lists recyclers that have pledged not to dispose of hazardous e-waste in developing countries. http://www.e-stewards.org/local_estewards.html
Epa.gov: Find local recyclers. View a list of manufacturer take back programs. http://www.epa.gov/waste/inforesources/news/2009news/08-r2.htm
Buy a water cooler
These aren’t just for idle chitchat! By quenching your thirst at the water cooler you avoid having to buy plastic water bottles—the scourge of Earth.
According to this story in Outside Magazine, there is a flotilla of plastic crap the size Texas in the Pacific Ocean – wait, scratch that: the “Eastern Garbage Patch” is actually twice the size of Texas. http://outside.away.com/outside/culture/200912/david-de-rothschildplastiki-1.html
Don’t go to work
Skype, Google Wave, GoToMeeting. The technology required for telecommuting is cheap and readily available.
And there’s no better way to lower your carbon footprint than to reduce your highway time. If your boss wants you in the office, consider carpooling a day or two per week with a coworker.
Or just build a crack case for telecommuting:a quick Google search will give you all the material you need.
Assemble a PowerPoint presentation and channel your inner Al Gore. Just promise us that when you start telecommuting you won’t be that guy in his pajamas jabbering into his cell phone at Starbucks.