Electronics have a large impact on the environment and on human health. The fabrication and shipment of electronics involve the use of water and energy, and often result in the creation of industrial waste. Once electronic devices are in use, they can require large amounts of energy to operate, nearly half of which is generated through burning coal. This type of energy generation produces air pollution and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, both of which are harmful to human health. Finally, the disposal of electronics results in a massive amount of waste going into landfills where toxins commonly found in electronics, such as mercury, cadmium, lead, and beryllium, can leak into the soil or be released into the air through burning. Only through management over the entire electronics lifecycle can we mitigate the negative effects on our soil, water, air, and health.
Conserve the Future: Unplug Now
In order to minimize the harmful health effects of electronics production and disposal, their manufacturers, users, and owners must practice good stewardship. This requires a holistic approach that is concerned with the entire life cycle of electronics, from design to disposal. You as a user can do several things to ensure that you’re being a responsible steward of your electronics resources.
- Maintain and keep equipment as long as possible
- Reduce energy use by unplugging or turning off equipment when not in use
- Purchase only necessary equipment
- Borrow and share equipment that is infrequently needed
- Keep unneeded newer equipment in use through refurbishment and reuse programs
- Instead of purchasing new, look for refurbished equipment, accessories, and toner cartridges
- Dispose of equipment safely and properly through community or workplace electronics collection programs