By Caroline Kruse
Caroline Kruse is Development Director at the Lower East Side Ecology Center
It may have been you, or maybe it was a friend of yours. It could have even been your parents. But at least one of you got a new computer, iPod, or other fun gadget for the holidays. The shiny new toy is everything you’ve ever wanted (at least for now), but what will you do with the product that got replaced?
In the case of electronic waste, or e-waste, What do I do with this? is a major problem across the country, and especially in New York City. The average American household has more than 24 electronic devices, and the average NYC apartment is simply not conducive to storing, well, anything. The result is that your outdated gadgets quickly become personae non gratae. You have two options: recycle or trash.
Responsibly recycling e-waste is crucial because e-waste contains all kinds of nasty stuff, like lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors and flame-retardants, and when you put them in the trash, you’re sending those toxic materials to landfills where they can leach into groundwater or to incinerators where they can poison the air.
If that doesn’t sufficiently freak you out, consider the fact that there are large-scale incinerators as close as Newark, NJ. Recycling your electronics means that the toxic compounds are handled responsibly and the metal, plastic, and glass get recycled in a process similar to your curbside recycling. In other words, you’re creating three levels of good karma: putting less trash on your curb, reducing the need for virgin materials to make new products, and keeping toxins out of landfills.
So now that you’re convinced you want to recycle, you can take advantage of an electronic waste recycling event hosted by the Downtown Alliance and the Lower East Side Ecology Center on January 8 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Bowling Green. We’ll be collecting working and non-working computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, cables, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, phones, A/V equipment, cell phones and PDAs.
The Downtown Alliance also has the how-to-get-to-there question figured out by having Downtown Connection buses make a special Chip Trip to bring you and your e-waste to the event.
The Ecology Center has recycled more than 900 tons of electronic waste in New York City since 2003 and will be holding a total of 10 electronic waste events in January. For more information about these events and other community-based environmental programs, visit Ecology Center’s website or call (212) 477-4022.
The event at Bowling Green will also include an easy and fun way to get rid of your holiday tree at Mulchfest from 10 AM to 2 PM. Nothing says welcome to the new year like sipping hot cider and hanging out with recycling mascots while you watch your holiday décor go through a huge chipper. Just remember to take off the lights and ornaments.