New electronics are coming out all the time. (You thought you had the latest iPod? Think again.) This means that we are replacing cell phones, computers, televisions, and all the rest, much more often to stay up-to-date. According to the EPA and other sources, the average computer lasts about three years; the average cell phone about two. But what happens to your old electronics when you’re done with them? Most electronics contain a fair amount of highly toxic metals and other materials, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, PVC, chromium, and brominated flame retardants. When you throw them away, those dangerous materials end up leaching into the land and water from landfills and into the air from trash incinerators.
To keep the environment healthier and safer, try to donate or recycle your old electronics. Provide a school, organization or family with an electronic device that they could not otherwise afford. This saves the old device from the trash, and saves the resources and energy that would have gone into making a new device. If the products aren’t working well enough for anyone to use, recycle them (there are lots of places to do this for free.) Try to buy electronics from companies that take back their products when you are done with them, or companies that use safer materials in their products in the first place, and use them as long as possible.