Thursday, April 30, 2015

Drowning in Old Electronics? Here's the Solution! #Ecycle

This post is part of the and Ontario Electronic Stewardship #Ecycle sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

When I first met my now husband, his living room was a total man cave. I walked in and was floored (almost literally) by the huge 46-inch TV staring back at me. And I mean huge in every way. This was 15 years ago when we were all still using tube TVs. It was top of the line for that time, about 3 feet deep and weighed over 200 pounds. It was perched on a reinforced entertainment unit that contained the following: a 5-disc CD changer, 3 video machines (VHS, Beta, laserdisc), a turntable, receiver, a sub-woofer, and who knows what else. The living room also housed a desktop and a laptop computer, plus a surround sound system. It was a little overwhelming, and took me ages to figure out how to work everything. But I did love the tech!

Over time, our screens have become wider and thinner, our devices smaller and more multi-purpose, but little else has changed. We are a tech family and we all like to keep up-to-date. New and shiny?? One of us is bound to want it! Of course, keeping up with the latest innovations means we create a fair bit of surplus equipment. How do we deal with it all?

If the tech is still functional, we hand it down to a child, or maybe a friend or other family member. I gave my original e-reader to a friend when I upgraded to one with wi-fi. Then when I traded up for a newer version with tablet capabilities, I gave the wi-fi version to my mom. Those devices still had a lot of life left in them, and just as we donate gently used clothes, I passed them on to folks who would show them more love.
These tablets are mine. Yes, all four of them.
Our tablet situation is a bit crazy right now - we have 8 in working condition. Only 4 of us live here, and only 3 of us use tablets! This collection will be assessed and purged soon. Donation to charity, handing down to someone we know, or putting them up for sale (after a careful wiping of data, of course) - these still useful machines will find new life.

But then we also have the non-functioning tech. Dead laptops, obsolete desktop systems, old monitors, cracked phones. There is a collection of these items in our crawlspace in need of disposal. But we have no intention of contributing to a landfill. Electronics can be disassembled and many of the component parts recycled. Did you know many of our devices contain precious metals, including gold? There's a definite market for these components and great motivation to recover them. Enter Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES).
The evolution of my cell phones. These four are non-functioning and ready for OES.
The OES is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization responsible for recycling electronics in Ontario. They have drop-off locations and hold special collection events across the province, where they accept 44 different types of electronics. If your laptop or cell phone has reached the end of its useful life, they will take it and salvage all useful materials, recycle, reuse, or properly dispose as necessary, all at no cost to you. These efforts are great for the planet.

Recycling one metric tonne of laptops can save the energy equivalent of powering 710 Ontario homes in a year, and recycling phones produces 324 times more gold than from the same weight of ore processed in a traditional mine. I think that's pretty amazing.

To help educate the next generation about the importance of electronics recycling, the OES has worked with teachers to develop a comprehensive curriculum for students in grades 4 through 10, focusing on how technology impacts our world. Because OES recognizes that hands-on experiences are integral to learning and long-term comprehension, they will be touring 32 schools across the province in April and May, sharing interactive learning experiences. The students will be able to see first-hand the many different materials found in our everyday electronics, which should lead to a real appreciation of the need to reclaim and recycle rather than send to a landfill. Our kids are pretty savvy about environmental issues, and they are certainly huge consumers of electronics, and will continue to be throughout their lives. This looks to be a great way to capture their attention, and they can come home and educate their parents!

I'm going to leave you with a short video from OES, outlining the process and benefits of recycling our old electronics. Think about this the next time you upgrade, and be sure to look for your local drop-off location.

To learn more about the environmental benefits of recycling electronics or about the new curriculum materials, please visit

For more information about how you can recycle your electronics and the impact it has on the environment visit

It’s not just adults who can help the environment. Learn how your children can cut down on e-waste too.

Then travel back in time and see how many of these pieces of “leading edge technology” you remember.

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