The Dirty Secret of E-Waste: Are You Part of the Problem?

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via Treehugger.com

I remember when I was a kid, we used to go up to the barn attic. We rented our home, and our garage was an old fire dept. barn that had its own upper level; the landlords used this attic for their storage. There was a lot of it. When you’re five, six years old, climbing a large pile of what is essentially junk is kind of a dream come true in a weird way. Maybe it’s because you feel rich or self-sufficient in a time when you exclusively rely on your parents to provide you with all of your needs (but not necessarily all of your wants).

When you’re that young, anything can become a toy, and for the kids of my generation, we’d find out that any toy could (and would) eventually become electronic. Speak & Spell educated us, Gameboys let us catch Pokémon, and MS-DOS forced us to become mini-programmers in order to get a simple game to start on our computers.

How many of us still own all of these toys? More than likely, the majority of them got thrown out over the years. Even as adults, our insatiable appetite for new ‘toys’ has created quite the conundrum: electronic waste.

E-waste is a massive, global problem of today. Before it, plastics were the big problem—they don’t biodegrade (meaning there’s a doll from the ‘50s probably just sitting around somewhere out there, eternally smiling as Blinky the Fish swims by).  I’ve gotten older and realized that pile of junk isn’t so majestic anymore:

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(image via Transitionconsciousness)

There are many villages and cities around the world that have become dumping grounds for the e-waste of the world, most of them in developing nations. Our very own country is just as guilty for dumping our e-waste overseas, and while it might seem like only a big, inconvenient heap, there are plenty of toxins being dispersed here (lead and mercury, for example). Computer monitors and old TVs are the biggest offenders. Once the screen cracks, the toxins become airborne or bleed into the water supply. This is all in addition to the fact that there is a massive amount of plastics from these devices that has to be incinerated, too.

One of the main principals of our business here at planIT Hardware is that we are giving second life to many still-useful electronic products and components. We help keep the secondary market alive, because there are hundreds of thousands of units out there that don’t need to be trashed. Save the planet, save money: it’s a winning combination every time. We live in a culture where we are being programmed to believe we must need the newest and latest in electronics. As folks in data centers and server rooms know, the benefits of refurbishing units and buying from the secondary market far outweigh the cost of buying new, more often than not. In addition, we do consignment deals so that a bankrupt business, for example, doesn’t need to dispose of their defunct hardware—we can sell it for them, putting money back in their pocket and these products back on the market.

So, business owners, network engineers and electronics consumers (i.e., everyone else), make sure you’re disposing of your IT assets properly, and while you’re at it, you might as well see if you can make some money off of them!

 

 

For a more in-depth look at the effects of e-waste, check out this Dateline expose:

GreenIT: Technology Recycling and Responsible IT Disposal

Everything’s gone green.

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technology recycling!

Even though the lyrics have nothing to do with being eco-conscious, that New Order song was the first thing I thought of before writing this post. And then I realized that, despite all the trends and fashions that have come along with going green, the self-righteousness and ignorance alike from both sides of the debate, there is still such a thing as responsibility. More on that later.

There’s an age-old saying that it’s easier to destroy than it is to create. An object’s disposability often belies the efforts and resources that were spent in making it; the same is true for IT disposal. When we’re on to the next flashy piece of technology, we will ditch the old model with little understanding of the consequences. The very same technology that surrounds us may be churned out and updated at an excessively rapid pace, but there is quite a bit that goes into the production of that dusty old computer. A UN study found that 48lbs of chemicals, 530lbs of fossil fuels and 1.5 tons of water are used to produce one desktop computer tower and CRT monitor. For real.

So, what can you do? Better yet–what can planIT Hardware do? Remember trust falls? Don’t worry…I’ve got ya.

planIT Hardware has started what we like to call The Green Initiative. We want to produce environmentally responsible network solutions, and we think you can help. According to a 2009 report by the US Environmental Protection Agency, of the 3 million tons of e-waste disposed of in the US, only 17% was recycled. Just the act alone of buying from us is a big step in the right direction toward technology recycling. When you purchase used network equipment, you’re helping to stymie the production of new products (and, of course, you will save money). On top of this, we have our Asset Recovery Program.

Our Asset Recovery Program pays you to be responsible by extending the lifecycle of network hardware. Before you go taking your IT hardware out with the trash, you may want to think twice. Contact us about our buyback program and let us give you a quote. If a business deal can’t be made, we’ve got environmentally conscious IT disposal alternatives we can provide you with.

Either way, it’s a win.