Old electronics — such as computers, televisions and cell phones — are considered e-waste. How you get rid of these items can impact the environment. Focusing on green production helps companies protect the environment for future generations, be good stewards of their local resources and reach like-minded consumers wanting to embrace an eco-cause.
Committing to reduced carbon output and preserving resources is easier than you might think. You will gain a lot of traction with those wanting to do business with eco-friendly companies. Here are some things you could do and why you should be doing them.
The Environmental Protection Agency mentions recycling electronics reduces pollution by lessening the amount of new materials necessary to produce new items. It also keeps old devices out of landfills. Some e-waste leaches into the soil and contaminates groundwater, impacting everything from local wildlife to human drinking water.
Upgrading a computer system rather than completely replacing it might also save your agency money. Electronics are a considerable expense, so stretching them further is sensible.
Small businesses often need upgrades to keep software up to date or keep up with a growing enterprise. If you are scaling up by buying new electronics, consider how well the old ones work. Are they in a condition where you could reset them to factory settings, trade them in or sell them to make a few bucks?
You can even offset the cost of purchasing new electronics by selling your current equipment. You will reduce e-waste and get paid to do it.
It might be tempting to pitch that smartphone that no longer works and send it out with the trash. However, this is not the best way to dispose of electronic devices.
Experts estimate people around the globe contributed about 33.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2010, but the number keeps rising as new phone models, computer hard drives and other modern electronics advance rapidly. Make it a policy to recycle responsibly if you must trade your old devices in for new ones.
Regulations surrounding e-waste vary from state to state and even from one town to the next, so learn the rules where you run your business so you do not rack up any fines. Some laws are more stringent than others. If you are not sure you comply, talk with an expert on local regulations and ensure you change policies as necessary to meet expectations.
Who does your web agency partner with and how do they handle e-waste? Look at all your service providers as well as suppliers. For example, if you work with a hosting company for your website, be aware of its ongoing impact on the environment and whether it throws old servers into landfills.
Web hosting is a $90.42 billion industry with steady growth. You can find an organization with similar policies to yours regarding reducing carbon footprint. Ask the tough questions to verify you are doing your part and any company you support is, too.
As electronic parts break down, they seep back into the environment, and can poison local land and water. Some items are worse than others. Do your due diligence and research how to reduce the toxic waste your enterprise produces. Also, take the time to look for ways to ensure your old electronics do not turn into a problem for future generations.
Taking items to dedicated recycling centers is sometimes the only option. However, scientists are researching how you can recycle different components and reuse them instead of just throwing them away.
For example, one European project called CROCODILE considers cobalt recycling and how old batteries can take on new life. Look for cutting-edge solutions to a growing problem and invest in them to improve the impact of e-waste in the future.
It might seem like a small contribution to delay buying new machines or recycling responsibly. After all, giant corporations may not be overly concerned about doing the same and they have much more of an impact. It is crucial to remember that if smaller brands come together and do their part, they can set an example for the rest of the world and safeguard the environment.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.