By Linda Longo
If you’re anything like me, you’ve accumulated – over the course of time – all sorts of electronic “junk.” I’m talking about transistor radios from those 70’s beach days, beepers, cell phones, an old black and white TV perhaps or, at the least, a pre-flat screen. Throw in some household items like a malfunctioning toaster, a broken blender and miscellaneous batteries, and you know what I mean.
In my small Brooklyn apartment closet sat a bulging bag of miscellaneous electronics and related “stuff” just waiting to be recycled. My husband would ask why I don’t just take this bag into work since I work at EPA for ‘crying out loud.’ I’d tell him that my office is an office just like his and we do periodic cleanups and recycling events, but I often miss the opportunity – and, who wants to schlep all this stuff on the subway and into Manhattan? Recycling happens at the local, community level anyway. Right?
I promised him this bag will be gone the next time I see an electronic recycling event conveniently located within blocks of our apartment. That never happened. Finally, after growing tired of his prodding and my procrastinating, I decided to act. Last weekend, on a mission to Best Buy for new electronics, I decided to check on whether they took some of this electronic waste. A quick glance at their web site told me they did, but it was unclear about the toaster and the old lamp buried at the bottom of my bag. We hauled our oddities into Best Buy at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal and sure enough they took everything – lamp and all! The area for drop off was right in the entrance. The staffer on duty told me the items don’t even have to be one of their products. Someone before me had dropped off a monstrous TV – the kind ‘back in the day’ before flat screens. They placed green stickers on my items to show that these are not waiting for repair, but rather for recycling. She told me that, in this particular store, on average about 10 people drop off electronics each day and they are the stuff is taken into the back room, sorted by staff for pick up from an outside electronics recycling company. I left the store with a feeling of accomplishment for doing the right thing and not tossing my old toaster into the trash; which would have been so easy to do, but I would have had a guilty conscience for contributing to the overburden landfills.
I am now a vigilante, I’ve searched the web, come up with some terrific links, learned that many organizations, including other companies like Sony, eBay, Dell and Staples – to name just a few – have programs to take your old electronics. And, some will take that old lamp and broken toaster!
Check out some of our EPA e-cycling resources: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm.
About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past 7 years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.