Written by: Eliza Letteney
Consume Less, Fix What You Have, Pass Used Equipment on to Others
Most of us carry cell phones and use technology daily if not hourly. But once equipment breaks or becomes dated, what is the best way to dispose of e-waste? Why should we properly recycle it, and let's be real, where does it go?
What To Do With E-Waste?
In Wellesley you can recycle old televisions, cell phones, computers, monitors, and other appliances at the Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility. These recycled devices are picked up by a contractor hired through the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) – a nonprofit that helps communities manage their own recycling programs – and “stripped for components.”
Other local options include free recycling programs at Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. When you drop it off, ask where products end up after you drop them off.
Why Renew, Reuse or Recycle?
Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Between 2015-2020 global electronic waste increased 21 percent to 53.6 million metric tons, according to the United Nations Global E-Waste Monitor, and in 2019 less than 20 percent was recycled or reused meaning that most ends up in landfills or is burned.
The Basel Action Network (an e-waste watchdog group based in Seattle) partnered with MIT to find that “recycled” electronics often end up in landfills across the world, in counties in South and Central America, Asia, and Africa. Some recycling facilities overseas extract precious metals from devices by burning plastics and, in doing so, pollute the environment with dioxins, a cancer-causing chemical with disastrous ramifications for both human life and nature. Some attribute the rise in e-waste to the difficulty of recycling the complex plastics in electronics (laced with metals, chemicals, and flame retardant) as well as the cultural acceptance of buying newer, sleeker models and discarding still-functioning devices..
While we wouldn’t want to discourage you from recycling, the goal here is to recognize that recycling e-waste is not a perfect solution. It may be more helpful, instead, to refrain from buying new devices in situations where repairs are possible. For those looking to fix or improve their devices, Wellesley has some great local options.
Wellesley resident Eric Pinsker-Smith fixes electronics and also conducts small engine and automotive repairs. He began his company, Just Ask Eric, in August of 2021 and specializes in tricky diagnostics. Whether you have a busted snowblower or glitchy computer, Pinsker-Smith is a great local resource. Other local businesses like Cellaxs Phone Repair in the Natick Mall provide options for those looking to repair not replace.
Keep in mind that often tech issues that seem insurmountable can be overcome. It just takes a change in mindset to consider seeking out service when we would otherwise call it a day and find a replacement. Keeping devices longer and managing individual contributions to the global e-waste problem can make a difference as consumers await development of sustainable tech solutions.
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One last thought, if you are replacing a phone or other tech product that still works, consider deleting the data and donating the item to a local charity or to larger organizations like these: Medic Mobile, to support community health workers around the world; Cell Phones for Soldiers, to provide service to active duty military members and veterans. Think twice before tossing something that can make a difference.
Have the holidays left you bursting at the seams with more "stuff' than you need? With the RDF Take It Or Leave It/Reusables Area closed for the season, it can be hard to find homes for items you no longer need but are too good to throw in a landfill.
Among many, three phenomenal Facebook sites have become sustainable superheroes: Buy Nothing Wellesley, Wellesley Give & Take, and Greater Boston Give & Take. The first two are restricted to Wellesley neighbors, while the last group comprises nearby suburbs.
Expect fun, generous, and caring folks that delight in offering items they no longer need and seeing these items appreciated and re-homed. In search of something – a folding table or the Magic Tree House books? Post an “In Search Of” (ISO) request -- you might be surprised to see what the community comes up with! You no longer need that vintage bed, holiday décor, or SAT review books? Post an “Offer”.
You don't have to do anything else on FB if you don't want to, but joining these groups is worth the cyber trip! Similar off-Facebook groups, such as Freecycle, exist as well. These “gifting” groups build community and help us lean towards being green!
When picking up your "gift," consider planning errands around that area, as well! The State of Massachusetts gives a thorough list of entities that will gladly take and reuse furniture, building materials, and much more that go to the needy — and organizations will pick up! And next time you think about buying something, ask yourself, “Do I/we truly need this?”, “Is this sustainably made?” and “Can I find one for FREE on one of the gifting groups?” It’s easy being GREEN!
The Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility (RDF) is supplying food waste collection starter kits for your kitchen in an effort to increase food waste diversion from residential trash. Collecting your food waste separately keeps it out of a landfill and creates clean energy; furthermore, it’s easy.
Call the RDF ahead of time to reserve your no cost kit at 781-235-7600 x3345. Then, simply put all of your food waste (bones too!) in your bin at home. Then place it in the the green totters marked "FOOD WASTE" located by the trash compactors at the RDF. The food waste is then taken to a facility where it is turned into clean energy.
So get your kit and start diverting food waste today!
Save yourself from shlepping more things to the dump, save some trees and reduce the amount of trash that Wellesley sends to landfills.
You CAN reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.
Go to www.catalogchoice.org, follow a few simple steps and Catalog Choice will do the rest.
Every year, over 100 million trees are cut down to produce junk mail like catalogs, credit card offers and coupons that go into trash or at best into a recycling bin. Not to mention the amount of resources it takes to produce and distribute all that junk mail.
Stop one frustration in your daily life by getting rid of your junk mail.
To find out about additional opportunities to reduce, visit the RDF’s website here.
We love those compostable, "environmentally friendly" containers, cups, utensils, etc. They make us feel better and are a better alternative to plastic. However, if they are not industrially composted, they wont do all the magic they want them to.
The Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility (RDF) is turning that around. They are piloting a compostable products area at the RDF. Similar to the totters to collect food waste, the RDF will have a container near the yard waste where you can discard your compostable products. They will then mix the compostables in with the yard waste which will allow the products to break down. Nice!
This is a great opportunity to take compostable products out of the waste stream and put them into an environment where they can become actual compost. The RDF will pilot this effort and evaluate its effectiveness for future operations.
Environmental Justice, corporate greed, pollution, and the climate crisis Conversation tomorrow night on zoom
On Wednesday, June 23 from 7-8:30pm, join the virtual conversation about the intersection of environmental justice, corporate greed, pollution, and the climate crisis in ‘No Time to Waste: Toxic Plastic and the Climate Crisis.’ Panelists will share results from a recent Fairhaven beach cleanup and brand audit, learn about how plastic production affects EJ communities, and hear how we can work together to get the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act passed.
This event is hosted by Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven and Climate Reality Project Massachusetts Southcoast.