With the average American household owning 24 electronic devices, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates we are annually producing nearly 3 million tons of e-waste. Tube-type TVs and computer monitors contain lead, while cell phones harbor toxic mercury, cadmium, arsenic and brominated flame retardants, all of which can leach from landfills into groundwater.
Alternatives include selling old phones or trading them in at a store, and buying a new phone only when necessary. For $10, Staples will recycle any brand of computer monitor, desktop and laptop computer, fax machine, printer or scanner. Dell products are accepted at no charge.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers information about local e-waste recycling and regulations regarding handling of electronic equipment at Tinyurl.com/EPAeWasteTips. For a global perspective, see the United Nations Environment Programme 2010 update at Tinyurl.com/UNeWasteReport.