How To

Five ways to make electronics more sustainable

Authored by a Symantec employee


Recycling electronics is not just about batteries, although that’s a pretty good place to start.

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Did you know that most electronics use a fair amount of raw materials harvested from our Earth? According to the EPA, “one metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the United States.” In addition to gold and copper, electronics also can use oil, iron, platinum, silver, nickel, aluminum, and even wood. All of these materials are finite resources, and it also takes other raw materials to harvest these materials.

This Earth Day, let’s take a look at five ways we can make our electronics more sustainable:

1. Reuse

If you’re getting a new device, and your old one is still in working condition, consider giving it to a family member or friend. Hand-me-down devices can be perfect “starter gadgets” for children.

If no one you know needs a new device in their life, there are plenty of others who can put those old devices to good use. Consider donating gently used devices to your local neighborhood school, to one of the many nonprofit organizations that help low-income families, or to one of the many charities that collect and repurpose used devices. Can’t find an organization? Many major electronic retailers will accept old tech.

2. Cleaning and maintenance

Taking care of your devices can help them live a long and happy life. That means that when you clean your devices, you’re doing more than just dusting off keyboards and wiping fingerprints from screens. You’re also paying attention to the state of the hard drive, updating software, removing old programs, and protecting them with Internet security software.

3. Recycle

Even if your device is broken, it can still find new life elsewhere. You can take your old technology to recycling centers, and their parts can be broken down and used in greener manufacturing processes. Remember all those raw materials mentioned above? Those can be harvested from these recycled devices and used again in new ones.

4. Be patient

Electronic companies seem to be releasing new versions of their products every year. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to upgrade every year as well. While it’s always exciting to get your hands on new technology, sometimes waiting to update is best. If you absolutely must keep up with the latest and greatest tech, look for stores that will let you trade in your old device. Most mobile phone carriers offer these types of programs.

5. Buy green

From using recycled materials in the manufacturing of products, to using the least amount of packaging possible, there are many ways you can be “greener” when upgrading to a new device. Looking for the “Energy Star” logo on electronics is also the easiest way to spot gadgets that conserve energy better than most.

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