How To Help
Photograph by Jeanne Modderman
How to Help
January 2008
E-cycling Etiquette: How to Help
Americans toss out about two million tons of unwanted electronics annually, fouling landfills with toxic lead from old computer monitors, cadmium from leaking batteries, and more. But it's getting easier to discard responsibly. Some charities repurpose old cell phones as lifelines for seniors and victims of domestic violence, and computers can go to underfunded schools. Reputable recyclers will properly scrap unusable electronics, though they sometimes charge a small fee. Donating newer models, on the other hand, can earn a tax deduction, so keeping old gadgets from gathering dust helps you and the environment. For more information on charities and recyclers, go to epa.gov/ecycling.

Cell phones
Find donation bins at electronics stores and libraries. Wireless carriers also accept used phones. For options visit recyclewirelessphones.com.

Most makers accept their brand from customers buying new ones. Some office supply store chains accept old computers for a fee. The National Cristina Foundation connects computer donors with the needy. Go to cristina.org.

Often retail stores selling rechargeable batteries will accept used ones, including small sealed lead-acid batteries from power backups. See call2recycle.org for locations.

Printer supplies
Spent toner cartridges are valuable; trade them in for discounts or refill them at retail stores. Collecting used ones for recycling can even be a profitable fund-raiser for groups.

BAN/Electronic TakeBack Campaign E-Stewards Initiative
Click www.ban.org/Pledge1.html to find a list of North American recyclers that refuse to export hazardous electronic waste.