15 (Actionable) Ways You Can Help Reduce E-Waste

In 2019, global e-waste generation stood at 53 million tons. Yet, just 17 percent of that massive figure was sustainably recycled. Not recycling your e-waste properly leads to contamination of air, soil, and water, affecting humans and wildlife.

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can help reduce our growing e-waste problem.

First, we’ll discuss how a laptop user can apply some tips in their life to help reduce e-waste. After that, we’ll see some other ways you can contribute and help reduce electronic waste.

The 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle are three essential rules to keep your e-waste to a minimum. Let’s look at each of them briefly.

  • Reduce: It’s the idea that if you don’t need something, don’t buy it.
  • Reuse: Reusing keeps new resources from being used for longer and old resources from entering the waste stream.
  • Recycle: There are so many curbside recycling programs today. Use them to recycle your e-waste.

Most, if not all, of the ways listed below are based on these three rules.

1. Maintain Your Laptops Well

laptop maintenance

Laptops are one of the highest sources of e-waste today, so maintaining your laptop well will definitely have an impact. Buy a new flagship-level laptop now with the most powerful specs you can afford, and only upgrade every 2-3 years, instead of upgrading it yearly.

2. Maintain Your Laptop Batteries

maintain laptop batteries

Another way to avoid e-waste is to take care of your laptop’s battery.

For this, you can learn some best practices for charging your laptop battery. Following such good practices will result in an increased lifespan of your laptop and its battery, which should keep you from buying a new laptop or a new laptop battery for a little while longer.

3. Give Your Old Laptop to Younger Siblings

young sibling laptop

Now, not everyone will have enough courage for this one! 😅

For me, whenever I finally need to buy a new laptop, I give it away to my younger siblings for FREE (or for some money, sometimes) so they don’t have to buy for themselves and can use mine, instead. This also hugely reduces the e-waste production of your own household.

The least you can do is to control e-waste production of your own house, by taking such small actionable steps.

4. Consume Less to Reduce Your E-Waste

consume less

Before you go and buy a new sleek TV, the latest smartphone, or a brand-new laptop, think if you really need it. If your old laptop or smartphone is not working properly, why not get it repaired instead of buying a new one?

Developing this thinking attitude will go a long way in reducing your share of e-waste.

5. Organize Your Electronics

organize electronics

We stash away so many electronics in our drawers and cupboards that we forget what items we have in our house. Organize your devices so you quickly find whatever you need and don’t end up buying it again only to find out you already had it.

6. Buy Energy Star Rated Appliances

energy star appliances

Energy Star is a program that the Environmental Protection Agency offers to give you rebates when you recycle old hardware and buy new Energy Star appliances. These are environment-friendly appliances that reduce e-waste and consume less electricity, saving you some money on your electric bills.

Energy Star Appliances include:

  • Air Purifiers
  • Clothes Dryers
  • Clothes Washers
  • Commercial Clothes Washers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers
  • Freezers
  • Refrigerators

7. Repair Your Broken Electronics at Home

repair electronics at home

Sites such as iFixit provide you with free, step-by-step instructions on fixing your gadgets. Furthermore, you can also browse through YouTube videos on fixing your broken gadget by looking up its name and model.

Not only will this save you money on getting your stuff repaired, but it will also help reduce e-waste by prolonging the lifespan of your gadgets.

8. Reuse Your Old Smartphone

Instead of swapping your old phone for a new one, or throwing it in the trash, think of another way you can utilize it. You could just permanently keep it in your car and use it as a GPS device or repurpose it as a dashcam.

Furthermore, you can also convert your old smartphone into a universal remote control or use it as a monitor for your household’s security cameras.

If you’re out of ideas, try some of these creative ways to reuse your old smartphone.

9. Donate Or Sell Your Working Electronics

One of the easier ways you can reduce your e-waste production is to sell your working electronics on eBay or Craigslist. Whoever buys it from you will most likely use, resell it, or utilize its parts in different applications.

Furthermore, you can also use a recycling website like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which has recycled more than 20 million cell phones since its launch in 2004. There are other options, too:

  • 911 Cell Phone Bank: Provides phones to vulnerable people so they can call 911 easily.
  • Medic Mobile: Gives old phones to medical workers in developing countries to track diseases, register pregnancies, and communicate with other emergency workers.

10. Know Your State’s Battery Disposal Laws

Throwing away your rechargeable batteries is a dangerous practice, which is why some states make it illegal to toss them in the trash. However, these batteries contain lead, plastic, and metal which you can recycle easily at many locations. So, dispose of your rechargeable batteries properly, as per your state’s laws.

11. Stop Buying Physical Storage Drives

Try services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive to store your data online. Why buy physical memory sticks and storage drives when you can easily store the data online for free? Not only will this save you money, but it’ll also help reduce your share of e-waste.

12. Learn About the Materials Used in Electronics

Do your research and learn about the materials used in your day-to-day products because some raw materials are recyclable while others are not. There’s also the huge energy cost of extracting many of these rare metals and other materials.

Imagine a gadget that contains toxic materials, which isn’t easy to recycle. How much would it contribute to e-waste? How long will it take to break down?

13. Properly Maintain Your Electronics

Not only will this increase the lifespan of your devices, but it’ll also help reduce e-waste. One such device we use daily is a laptop. Here are some ways you can increase the lifespan of your laptop.

14. Rent Electronics Instead of Buying

If you feel you need something for a day or two, rent it, especially if it’s an electronic device. This will save you space as well as money in the long run. If you buy every little thing you only need temporarily, these products will eventually take up a lot of your space, as they have taken mine!

Eventually, you’ll clear out, and things inevitably make their way to the scrap-heap.

15. Spread Awareness: Share This Guide

It won’t change a lot if you’re the only person concerned about our e-waste problem. Share whatever resources you find on reducing e-waste with your friends and family, especially the kids, so they get educated and realize the need for taking action, joining you in this cause.

Furthermore, you could begin educating your kids about our e-waste situation and make them realize how they too can contribute. Don’t worry about this too much, though, as you also don’t want to pour too much worry onto kids while they’re young.

In short, everyone has a part to play in combating e-waste.