What to do with Dead Electronics?

I’m an American and also a gadget fiend. I love every new-fangled thing that comes out and the first thought that usually goes through my head is, “Where can I get it?” Lately though, I’ve started to have a new line of thinking when I see sparkling objects which is, “Do I really need it?” This was the case with my iPod, where I realized that the one I have is good enough and I really don’t need the new iPod Touch.
Initially this may seem a move against anti-consumerism, which it is, but at the same time, it’s a move against waste. Do you remember how much packaging there was with the last gizmo you bought? So, part of what I’m trying to do is avoid creating new waste, but there is an additional depth to this in thinking about the waste that we already have. What do you do when your cellphone dies? How about a blender? Or maybe even an entire computer? After all, in 2005, about 1.5 million to 1.9 million tons of used and unwanted electronics were discarded (source).
There are some places that have sprung up lately to deal with this waste. In San Francisco we have a few, seeing as how we have many computers being tossed all the time. Even still, I feel that there is more than can be done and it means taking things in to your own hands.
Two years ago, I bought a Logitech MX5000 mouse. It’s a nifty little cordless mouse that fit my large hands well. Naturally, given the inherent obsolescence built in to many products these days, it died recently. Most people’s first reaction would be to dump it in the trash and get a new. This is bad. This mouse is deadly and also worth something. First off there is that battery in there. Then there is a lot of wire. Of course there is a good deal of plastic as well. So, what did I do with all of this?
The first thing I did was rip it apart. I took out the battery and dropped that off at a recycling center. Then, I ripped apart the power supply and stripped out the wire. Copper is quite a precious commodity these days and all the wire wrapped up in power converters (that power brick you plug in) is worth stripping out. Then there was the plastic. I was stumped and I had to regrettable toss that. We really need to lobby for housings on devices to be made of reusable materials…
This was just a small thing and it meant that I didn’t toss out useful and toxic things in to some nearby landfill by stripping it down. Ripping apart and sorting your old electrics can have even more of an impact when they’re bigger like say, a toaster oven. As you can read in that article, I had even greater luck reducing this dead device to nearly only recyclable materials.
All of this isn’t just for geeks like me though. You can do it yourself. Just get a couple of tools like a basic screwdriver set and a pair of pliers. You can then rip things that are truly dead apart with the greatest glee and try and stop the amount of waste on this planet. Recycling doesn’t stop with putting cans in those blue bins…
What to do with Dead Electronics?