Ewaste: Why You Should Care, and What To Do

Ewaste is a growing problem.  As we keep adding new electronics to our lives (and who doesn’t want to get a new cell phone every two years!), we are then swamped with an excess of the old ones.  Ewaste is defined as, basically, anything you can plug in.  This means cell phones, refrigerators, TVs, keyboards, your monogrammed waffle iron, you name it.  It also includes the “secondary” waste that comes from these products, like copper wire.  The EPA estimates that only about 28% of all ewaste gets recycled. So what happens to the other 72% of ewaste? Unfortunately, that amount winds up in local landfills where lead, mercury, and other toxins soak into the ground.  The hazards of ewaste are pretty severe and can cause serious health and pollution risks. Some ewaste is banned from landfills.  In California, law prohibits cathode ray tubes from televisions and computer monitors from entering the landfill.  Regardless, you never want to dump your ewaste in the landfill (this means keep it out of your trash and recycling bins).  Ok, so now that you know what ewaste is, what do you do with it?

What comprises ewaste
What comprises ewaste

Here are a few tips for safe ewaste disposal:

1. Repair it! Maybe your laptop’s CD drive broke when your cat jumped on it.  Instead of buying a whole new laptop, get the current one repaired! You may be asking where you can get such a thing done. Well, we built you a whole repair database, where you can search the item you need repaired and find a convenient location.

An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing
An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing
A cute art project made from an old keyboard

2. Re-purpose it! We can’t quite think of how to reuse that old laptop, but how about all the other ewaste you may have? Circuit board shoes not your idea of how to spend a Sunday? How about this cool way to reuse the keys in your keyboard- make a neat art project by spelling out the letters and putting them in a shadow box.  Also check out our Pinterest page, where we find ways to re-purpose all sorts of items.

3. Recycle it! The ewaste you dispose of likely isn’t 100% recyclable, but many of the components are. Regardless, if you can’t figure out what else to do with your ewaste, your best bet is to take it to a collection event.  Again, we have you covered- check out our events calendar for upcoming ewaste recycling events (usually there’s around one per weekend).

Have any questions about recycling? Contact us  at  1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784)

Make a resolution to recycle more in 2014!

It’s that time of year again, what will be your resolution for this New Year? Might we make a suggestion? Resolve to recycle more! Your friends at I Love A Clean San Diego are here to help you keep your resolution with a refresher on what can be recycled in your blue recycling bin here in San Diego.

Can recycle: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes
Can recycle: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

Cartons are now recyclable through every waste hauler in San Diego County. That means you can put milk cartons, juice boxes, broth boxes, and any other aseptic type of container in your blue bin.

Any type of hard plastic container, regardless of the number on the bottom, can be put in your recycling bin. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if it’s a plastic that you cannot easily crush with your hand and it fits in your bin, throw it in for recycling. Containers should be empty of most food scraps, but don’t need to be perfectly clean.

Any type of hard plastic container, regardless of the  number on the bottom, can be put in your recycling bin
Any type of hard plastic container, regardless of the
number on the bottom, can be put in your recycling bin

Another item that might you might not be dropping into your blue bin is empty aerosol cans. Empty hair spray, empty aerosol cleaning supplies and empty spray paint containers can all be recycled. (If you have aerosol containers that aren’t completely empty, those should be treated as household hazardous waste.  Log on to our recycling database, www.WasteFreeSD.org to find a location for disposal).

pizza box
Recycle the clean cardboard lids on pizza boxes

Pizza boxes are one of the greatest mysteries in recycling and we have the answer for you! To recycle pizza boxes, all you need to do is rip off any part of the box that is greasy or covered with food and throw it in the trash. The rest of the clean cardboard can go in the recycling. (If we were to recycle the pizza box in the image to the left, we would rip  off the bottom section and throw it in the trash. Then put the top part in the recycling).

Not be to forgotten are the old standbys for recycling. Paper, metal cans, clean aluminum foil, glass jars, soda bottles, and aluminum cans are some of the common items you have around the house that can go in the recycling. If you have paper, especially shredded paper, to recycle, throw it in a paper grocery bag and roll the top down on the bag to ensure it’s not contaminated by other items in the recycling bin. (If it’s contaminated, it won’t be recycled and it will have to be thrown away as regular trash).

Check out www.WasteFreeSD.org to learn where to recycle ewaste!
Check out www.WasteFreeSD.org to learn where to recycle ewaste!

Did you get a snazzy new TV for the holidays? Don’t forget that your old TV should be recycled: electronic waste is known to contain heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which if placed in the landfill can harm people and the environment.   Keep an eye out in your neighborhood for signs advertising e-waste collection events. You can also log on to www.WasteFreeSD.org to search for an event or recycling center for electronics near you.