What is the number of electronic products you own? Well, on an average, a regular household has as many as 22 electronics items including computers, TVs, gaming consoles, cell phones, DVD player, external hard drives, thumb drives and digital camera. In fact, when I looked around and counted the number of gadgets at my home, it came to 23. And while we are at it, let’s not forget the ever rising pile of e-waste or electronic waste that needs to be discarded. Have you ever thought about how all these electronics items and e-waste affect your carbon footprint and the environment?
Carbon Footprint: What is it?
The term Carbon Footprint is a term that is used to describe the overall carbon emissions for which a country, an organization or an individual is responsible, through the usage of fossil fuel based energy and the purchase and consumption of products. Generally, carbon footprints take into account only carbon based gases, but green house gases such as CFCs and nitrous oxides are also included. Higher carbon emissions and a large carbon footprint will have a detrimental effect on the environment and lead to climate change and global warming. Green house gases whether man made or natural, are a major contributor to the planet’s warming.
E-Waste & Your Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint takes into account one’s consumables. Everything that is produced or consumed, including electronics, has a carbon footprint, as energy is required for its production resulting in carbon emissions. Not only will the purchase of your electronics increase your carbon footprint, their eventual disposal and the resultant e-waste will increase it even more.
Your electronic gadgets and appliances won’t last forever. Eventually, you will replace them either due to planned obsolescence, newer and better technology or maybe even sheer boredom. We will always want the best and the latest gadgets, and considering the rapid pace at which technology is advancing, there will be more and more electronic waste to dispose of, which will further enlarge our carbon footprint. And it doesn’t even end there. Apart from the increase in carbon footprint due to e-waste disposal, the improper disposal of such waste in landfills can further pollute the environment as there are quite a few hazardous and toxic components in electronic gadgets. So what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint arising from our love of electronics and gadgets? Let’s take a look.
Recycle Your E-waste: Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Recycling e-waste, reduces more pollution, reduces emission of carbon based and green house gases and saves more energy than any other activity apart from source reduction. Recycling e-waste helps lower your carbon footprint in two important ways.
First, recycling and reusing keeps the e-waste from ending up in landfills. Landfills are anaerobic – once the e-waste is dumped there’s very little air left below the surface. The landfill gas which is eventually generated by organic decomposition in the landfill mainly consists of green house gases like methane, which escape into the atmosphere further adding to the carbon footprint. That’s not all, a lot of the harmful toxic components used in electronics leach into the ground further polluting the eco-system. Recycling e-waste will prevent such consequences.
Second, recycling and reusing e-waste helps reduce green house gas emissions by reducing the demand for continually mining and refining virgin resources required for the production. A number of precious and rare earth metals are required for manufacturing electronics, which have to be first mined, then transported over great distances and finally, processed with heavy industrial machinery. This results in considerable amounts of green house gas emissions. On the other hand, recycling e-waste, then reclaiming and reusing such precious and rare earth materials for electronic components would not only help lower green house gas emissions and hence the carbon footprint, but also help decrease pressure on the earth’s natural resources.
Your love for your gadgets need not be fatal for the earth. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle your e-waste and lower your carbon footprint!