I posted a question on Quora a while back asking how much plastic was in a typical cellphone and a typical laptop, and how much of it was recyclable. Razvan Baba kindly answered my question, and quite thoroughly, too. (Thank you, Razvan!) Answer: a lot. Batteries in particular are pretty bad, environmentally speaking. However, it turns out that aluminum laptop cases, (such as those used in MacBook Pros and HP Elites) are made from recycled aircraft aluminum, and the aluminum can be recycled again after the laptop is discarded. Recycling companies that deal with laptops typically dismantle the computers to salvage working parts. As Razvan points out, if you want to get rid of a computer that is still functional you can always donate it. Laptop Donation is one option I found with a quick search, but there are certainly others.
In terms of cellphones, some companies, such as Nokia, use a great deal more plastic in their products than do others. Apple comes out looking pretty good in this sense: iPhones have a glass screen and the case is made partly from aluminum. If you want to recycle an old cellphone after you upgrade, you can check out organizations like Call2Recycle.
Another possibility, which is less fun but perhaps most effective, is to only upgrade your cellphone or computer when you absolutely have to. I realize that this is hard, and that getting new cellphones and laptops is pretty awesome, but I figured I’d mention it! Speaking of which, I made a few blunders this week and ended up buying more plastic-packaged merchandise at the grocery store than I had intended. I recognize that it’s hard to reduce plastic usage, because clearly I am struggling myself.
My goal for this week is to think before I buy. I am also planning to take my stainless steel containers to the grocery store so I can use them to buy bulk items. I’ll let you know how that goes. I imagine I will get some funny looks, or else other shoppers will simply judge me silently. “Hippy freak,” they will mutter under their breath as I struggle to fill my Lunchbots with bulk almonds.
Until next time!