Friday, October 24, 2008

Moving With the Times

There is something to be said for technology, the small little chrome and black devices we all carry around with us are sleek and snazzy; a status symbol or just a great way to keep in touch with people when our business takes us far from home. What happens when we decide we have outgrown a black and chrome color scheme and that “clunky old” gaming system and want to show off our red or pink or blue gadget replacements and sleekly designed game hard drive? There is a cell phone, MP3 player, laptop, digital camera and gaming system to get rid of so just throw the old ones in the trash right?


Companies are now taking of advantage of ever changing technology trends and jumping in to assist with the e-cycling of those old items by handling what is known as e-waste. Not only will they take them back and properly dispose of them -- either refurbish and resell or e-cycle appropriately -- but some companies will even pay a small fee in cash or gift cards to garner those items.

When replacing old technologies we sometimes go to chain outfits such as Staples, Office Max or Office Depot. Office Depot just moved up about five branches on the Green Leaf Tree as they have now partnered up with ecoNEW to provide trade in for gift certificate service. So how does it work? The old item is researched on the ecoNEW website (ElectroStore portal must be acquired first), a value is placed on the old technology, an ElectroStore credit is issued with a UPS shipping slip, the item is shipped back, verified and a gift card to the retailer of choice is sent to the consumer.

What about those folks who do not want to turn their stuff into more stuff but would like to sell for cash without the hassle of listing items online over and over again?

Right here in Waltham, Massachusetts is a company called Gazelle (formerly Second Rotation) which receives, values, and turns old electronics into cash for the consumer. This company deals with less items than some of the others as they are only willing to accept eleven different types of electronic hardware (they do not accept old printers for example) but for those they do accept a consumer can (as their website states) “get green while being green”! As technology age increases the value decreases so that is something to be aware of. Selling back old electronics will likely not pay the mortgage but they will be kept out of landfills.

It is estimated that 2.25 million tons of electronics were deemed unworthy in the twenty four month period of 2006-2007. Only eighteen percent of those were e-cycled, a whopping 405,000 tons. That leaves 2,249,595 tons of electronic equipment to be placed in landfills. Ouch.

A fantastic example of rapidly changing technology would be the digital television switch over coming to all homes as of next year. With this mandated switch to DTV in February of 2009 there are going to be quite a few televisions that are deemed outdated. I strongly encourage everyone to begin research now for a location where these can be dropped (getting this done early will decrease chances of being turned away on the switch date due to high demand). Not only will it save a huge tonnage of waste in landfills but it could even pay back with a little pocket lining green.

Keeping up with trends is fun but landfills are not so that is why I give e-cycling companies such as ecoNEW and Gazelle and partners of their mission, such as Office Depot, a Four Leaf Rating!


artjewl said...

Very cool. We've been recycling our ink cartridges through Office Depot for years (they give $3 store credit for each one; use up to 3/purchase), but I never even really thought they might take back the gadgets too.

We usually freecycle the electronics we've outgrown. :)

So far, we haven't acquired any video gaming systems. I'm really not eager to either. I'd rather have the computer be multipurposed than have another gadget to become outdated. Not to mention that they can be such a money pit.

Bridgete said...

My old electronics always end up at a garage sale or Goodwill. This e-cycle thing is so much better! =)

Chris Stone said...

what a great idea for a blog! ove your reviews. sorry i haven't visited before. I have a pile of stuff for e-cycle...