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The Power of Electronic Recycling

“Look at My works. See how beautiful they are, how excellent. See to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world. For if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” (Midrash Ecclesiates Rabbah 1 on 7:13 c. 9thcentury)

In today’s ever more technological world, the number of electronic items the average person uses and wears out continues to grow. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Americans now own approximately 24 electronic products per household. As Jews we should be mindful not to immediately throw out that an old laptop, cell phone or iPod. Rather, look to e-recycling as the best alternative so that we are doing our part not to “spoil or destroy our world.”

Why Recycle

A recent study by the EPA shows that electronics already makes up 1% of the known municipal solid waste stream. Electronic waste is growing at a higher rate than other municipal waste.

Recycling the raw materials contained in electronic items that are at the end of their useful life is the responsible way to address the problem of e-waste. Most electronic devices contain many materials such as metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing re-use opportunities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Recycling also reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are caused when new electronic products are manufactured.

Tips for Effective Recycling of Your Electronics

First Consider Re-Use of Your Electronics: Before heading to an electronics recycling center, consider whether your electronics item is in good enough shape to donate rather than recycle. Preventing waste in the first place is better than any waste recycling option. For larger items, such as kitchen appliances, consider contacting your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. In most cases, the items you donate can be picked up from your home and are then sold at the ReStore shop, with all proceeds going to help the local Habitat affiliate fund construction of Habitat homes. For computers and cell phones, consider donating them to schools and local charities. For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm

If Recycling is the Best Option: If donation for re-use or repair is not an option, consider bringing your electronics to an electronics recycling drive run by a local municipality or non-profit. In the St. Louis area, two annual opportunities to recycle electronics take place in the Spring as part of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival (typically held the fourth Sunday in April) and in the Fall as part of the Electronics Recycling Event sponsored by Congregation Bnai Amoona, the City of Creve Coeur and MERS/Goodwill Industries (typically held the first Sunday and Monday in November). Contact St. Louis Earth Day about the Spring event at 314-282-7533. Contact Congregation B’nai Amoona about the Fall event at 314-576-9990

Resources: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/

This blog originally appeared in jewishinstlouis.org at http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/blog.aspx?id=345

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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