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Earth Worth: Recycling your E-waste

A few days ago we were reminiscing about the time when computers were bought on EMI’s at work. It’s quite funny to think about to those times now, when an average 4 member household owns about three computer/laptops, a tablet and an assorted collection of phones these days. And at-least two TVs? According to some of the people, this seemed to be a very conservative guess!

Every week there is a new phone in the market with even better features than the last week’s hot favourite. Advances in technology is all well and good, but what do you do with the stuff you own already and is serving you well? You can probably sell some of it online or offline. Or hand it down to someone in need or just because. Donate it to some charitable organisation that accepts old phones, computers etc. But is if it has stopped working, then what? It’s of no use to anyone so straight it goes to the trash pile right?
 
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Let’s back up a bit and start with what constitutes as e-waste – batteries, CDs, phones, cameras, chargers, computers and other peripheral like printers etc apart from household appliances like fans, fluorescent lights, vacuum cleaners and television sets, all can be classified as e-waste. When improperly disposed they pose a grave environmental hazard. All of them contain various levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium and when they are thrown away in the trash, they end up in landfills, where these toxic compounds can leach into soil and water and pollute our air. The impact of these on our health range from numerous kidney diseases to brain damage and to untold genetic mutations. Scary right? Unfortunately in India, we not only have to deal with our own domestic e-waste but several hundred kilo-tons of e-waste every month that is shipped out from the so-called developed nations under the guise of philanthropy! What all this simply means is that we have become a lucrative digital dumping ground because of lack education and awareness about this issue.
 

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If properly handled and disposed, you can recycle most of this e-waste one way or the other. So the question is why is only less 10% of the total e-waste of the country being actually processed the way it should be? What we are talking about here, is just skimming the surface of a very serious but mostly ignored environmental hazard we are facing today. We all need to raise awareness about recycling our e-waste in our own little ways and spread the word about the few good organisations who are doing their bit by offering to collect discarded batteries and equipment for free and forward it to proper recycling facilities.

Do you guys think we should make a start by atleast making a directory of all the places in our cities that offer recycling facility for e-waste? Leave the name and address of the place where you have seen a dropbox for e-waste in the comments section or send in a mail and help us in this endeavour. Let’s do it for a good cause guys!