What is this thing called e-cycling? Is it just another hippie crusade? Well, actually, it is way more important than that. It affects everything from the environment to unemployment numbers to wars in developing countries. Sounds heavy, right?
The amount of electronics in landfills has been growing since the late 1990s. Yes, there were electronics in every household in the 70s and 80s, but we had a different mindset then. Our electronics were valuable. We didn't just throw them out at the first sign of wear. If a newer, swankier model came out and we had the money to purchase it, the old device was handed down to a friend or family member or even kept as a backup.
Something shifted along the way. We became blind consumers. Our computers and electronic devices began improving in leaps and bounds. Financially, most people were doing quite well and had money to spend on the “latest and greatest”.....whatever caught their eye. Marketing was king.
Our cell phones got smaller and smaller and began to do things we never dreamed of. Then came the smart phone. We could now use the Internet on our phone and people got sucked into even more marketing ploys to convince them they needed newer and shinier things.
The “housing bubble” popped and a whole lot of other dominoes fell. This left many Americans without jobs or at the very least, a lot less money in their pockets. This should have put a damper on our consumption of new electronics. However, the word from on high was let's get people spending again so we can make new jobs and rebuild our economy. Sounds good, but it didn't work like that.
In the last seven years since the Great Recession, we find ourselves in a sticky place. Some of the top producers of electronics have devised a system that convinces consumers to opt into a long-term service plan. Basically, it boils down to a lease situation. The consumer pays monthly for their device and when it breaks, they must return it to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. This has led to a flood of electronic devices on the market and a need for e-cycling.
Next, in Part Two of this article I will address the unemployment factor of e-waste and how e-cycling can help.