Fix the Planet
Repair is recycling! The best way to keep electronics out of landfills is to keep them working longer. Toxic electronic waste is a global problem that we are working to solve. Self repair saves you money and helps the environment.
The problem with e-waste
What is e-waste?
Many people don't know that electronics have all kinds of nasty chemicals in them. For example, the glass in a typical Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) has about ten pounds of lead in it. Most flat panel displays contain significant amounts of mercury. Plastic cases come coated with fire-resistant chemicals called poly-brominated flame retardants, some of the nastiest chemicals around. You can't throw those kind of chemicals into a landfill because they contaminate soils and leach into the water supply.
What happens to e-waste?
To recycle electronics properly, you must carefully disassemble them and separate out each type of material. The raw materials can then be safely used to make new products. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen as often as you'd think. Many of the electronics that we think are "recycled" are simply shipped to the third world.
Why? It turns out that it's expensive to recycle e-waste properly. It's expensive because the process is labor-intensive. It’s expensive because environmental laws require e-recyclers in the EU to use environmentally friendly processes.
But labor is cheap in the developing world. And those pesky environmental laws don't exist everywhere. Containers full of outdated electronics are regularly shipped to places like China and Nigera where people scrounge through the dead electronics looking for bits and pieces that are useful. After scavengers pick out the worthwhile bits, 'extractors' start breaking things apart. They can make a living breaking down electronics by harvesting copper from wires and gold from electrical connectors. But without environmentally friendly processes, the nasty chemicals from the extraction process seeps into the groundwater and remnant broken electronic scrap litter the landscape.
How you can save the planet
Use devices as long as possible
Maintaining and repairing devices will dramatically improve their usable life span. If we worked together and doubled the length of time the average piece of electronics was used, we could halve the amount of e-waste created. If we take care of our devices and fix them when they break, we can do a lot better than that.
You have a responsibility to humanity to keep things working as long as possible and to dispose of them properly. Being responsible is easy: Sell or donate stuff you no longer need to people who can reuse it. Repair things you can still use, and recycle it when there's no use left.