Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Don't just throw it away!

Last week I stopped bye the Irvine, CA Best Buy to drop off some old batteries and ink cartridges and boy was it a rewarding experience. I even took an out of focus, crooked picture of the recycling drop box to share with you. My apologies if the image makes you dizzy and/or sick. You see... I was a bit embarrassed of taking a picture of the recycling center in broad day light while shoppers passed. Apparently my stealth picture taking skills aren't up to par. I should have had someone take the picture for me to properly document the occasion. If your local electronics store doesn't offer this, it's very easy to find non-profits online for all kinds of recycling.

In general the most sustainable thing you can do is to continue using your current gizmo while fighting the urge to purchase a new unit that offers insignificant upgrade features. There are certain circumstances that may inspire the most sustainable citizens to upgrade ahead of schedule. For example, old refrigerators use considerably more energy and should be properly disposed of. Call Edison, Orange County's largest electricity provider, or your own local utility company as they will most likely be participating in a government subsidized program that financially motivates them to pick up your old unit and/or even pay you for it.

Click here to view Edison's refrigerator recycling program now.

At Best Buy, they offer cell phone, battery and ink cartridge recycling so here is a bit of information that will hopefully keep you from throwing harmful devices into the trash.

All three devices contain toxic chemicals that can pollute landfills, ground water and our environment when not properly recycled.

Cell phones:

The average American owns 2 or more phones. If that's the American average, I'm not sure I want to hear the Orange County average. No? I have my old phone in a desk drawer... Do you still have your old phone wasting away in your home somewhere? Of the estimated 140 million cell phones that are retired each year, 75% of them are stockpiled in drawers waiting for their owners to finally give in and send them packing to the local landfill. DON'T be this person! Your phone can be recycled and help fight many of our environmental problems.

The average life of a cell phone is about 12 to 18 months with over 235 million wireless subscribers in the United States. Keeping your phone for as long as possible reduces precious metals collected through environmentally destructive mineral mining. Not to mention all of the wasted plastics (made from oil).

Toxic chemicals:
  • Lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, zinc, antimony, copper, nickel
  • The State of California considers cell phones hazardous waste.
  • It's unlawful to discard a cell phone in household trash in the State of California.
  • VERY few Americans take advantage of cell phone recycling and most are completely obvious to it.
  • Many of these chemicals are Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBTs) and have the potential to be released into the air and groundwater when burned in incinerators or disposed of in landfills, thus creating unnecessary threats to human health and the environment.


Moving on to batteries while keeping in mind what powers our cell phones...
  • Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury are also found in many of our batteries.
  • Sending any type of battery to the landfill or incinerator means the contents of the battery will ultimately end up getting into the soil, air, groundwater, and/or surface water, and thus eventually into the food chain and drinking-water supply. Thus, the key thing is to make sure batteries with toxic components do not go to the landfill or incinerator in the first place.

Ink cartridges:
  • Every year over 300 million cartridges are thrown away.
  • Approximately 90% of these printing cartridges are recyclable but only 20% are being recycled. Excess ink and toner can filter into our water supply!
  • So use emailing features, avoid printing when you can and use conservative ink print settings whenever possible.
  • Two and a half ounces of oil are used for every ink jet cartridge produced.
  • Plastics used in ink jet cartridges can take over 10 centuries (1000 years) to decompose.

These are a few small "eco-friendly" things that we can all easily do while sending a message to big business and help sustain our environment. Proper recycling of all that we use on a day to day basis should be considered in order to preserve as much of our outdated, uncool and excessive lifestyle as possible.

Written by, Evan T. Little

Realtor®, EcoBroker®
Volkl Investments Inc.
949.939.9687 phone

My other blogs:
Orange County, CA Community
Real Estate in Orange County, CA


Please said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Please said...

I just wanted to tell you about a free e-waste recycling event coming up for Earth Day. I was just told by someone at 1800gotjunk (who cleaned out my garage) that they will be collecting electronic waste from who ever shows up and that they will recycle it with a local company. So things like old vcrs, stereos etc. I think the locations are on their website:
just thought you would want to know.

Anonymous said...

Does the battery section in Best Buy accept regular household batteries? It looks like they only want rechargeable batteries.

Cypress City Hall used to accept household batteries, but now they are sending you to Huntington Beach to drop them off at Rainbow Disposal.

With the soaring gas prices, it would be nice if some cities or large corporations stepped up and offered recycling centers for household batteries.

Jiffy Lube has joined the bandwagon, but only for Los Angeles locations, not Orange County. Maybe we can get a campaign to have Jiffy Lube expand their program.

Evan Little said...

Dear Anonymous,
Yes, I believe Best Buy's set-up does except regular batteries as well.

E-waste recycling events are becoming quite popular. I suggest searching for some upcoming dates for some sort of event like this.