Everyone gets stuck with obsolete and unwanted tech, some of us shove them into a box and hoard it for months. Electronics aren’t meant to last forever and eventually all end up unwanted, so what do we do then?
Why can’t I just throw them out?
Electronic waste contains a number of toxic materials and substances like lead, mercury and cadmium. When we dispose of e-waste, they end up in the garbage disposal system where most inevitably are incinerated, this means all of these harmful substances pollute the air. Apart from global warming, throwing out tech gives rise to a myriad other environmental concerns, from polluting the soil and groundwater to harmful repercussions on our ecosystem.
The rich substances and precious metals in electronics can have a second life, if extracted. For people with low income and the impoverished, e-waste provides additional income but without proper knowledge on how to protect themselves, they put themselves at risk. People involved in dismantling and recycling electronics become endangered to various carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health hazards. Nearly 100 percent of electronic waste is recyclable but Bangladesh still lacks proper systems for safe disposal and recycling, but there’s a lot we can do ourselves too.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
What’s useless to you can still be used by other people. Old laptops, computers, tabs and phones are often replaced by new ones, rendering them useless to you, but for a struggling family, an orphanage or an impoverished school your old tech can still be used productively. Donate your unwanted technology as most can make some use of them even if they’re barely working. Charities and underprivileged communities aren’t hard to reach out to and you can do your share of giving.
How can I recycle them?
If your old tech isn’t salvageable enough to be donated, you can sell or give them away to the local businesses that make a living out of properly recycling and refurbishing electronics for resale. Electronic recycling shops are tucked away everywhere in Dhaka, piled to the top with dusty used gadgets but if this isn’t an option, many companies and businesses that sell electronics also offer to take them back when you stop using them.
Reusing unused tech
If you’re handy with electronics, you could dismantle and use parts of your laptops, computers, consoles and phones in making other ones. If you’re more on the creative side, the internet offers a million different ways you can use old tech in DIY projects, from photo frames and decorations to computer cat beds—anything is possible.
Faiza enjoys the lazy company of her overweight cat and a million deadlines, reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org