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Post-Valentine’s Day E-Waste: How to recycle and dispose of tech gifts and items

We’ve already looked at how to dispose of common Valentine’s Day items like cards, chocolate wrappers, and flowers. There’s so much more you may find yourself having to toss out after a day full of love (either as a couple, with friends, or yourself). In 2021, that might include a few e-waste (electronic waste). So, how do you recycle common e-waste items?

The rate of e-waste’s growth in our landfills is just as bad as the plastic crisis, but it’s received less time in the spotlight. E-waste has the most toxic output into our landfills, however, and warrant attention too. In fact, it comprises of 70% of the world’s overall toxic waste and only 12.5% of e-waste is properly recycled.

While mobile phones are the #1 personal device that’s periodically tossed (an average of 18 months after purchase!), this list looks at other items that you may have recently replaced and purchased or thrown out this past Valentine’s Day.

Collecting Memories and Cozy Moments, Not E-Waste

There’s been a minor return to print photos, which has meant a comeback for the polaroid camera and maybe even a disposable camera.  

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Polaroid camera / disposable cameras

Did you spend Valentine’s Day taking adorable photos of you and your loved one(s)? Scrapbooking is coming back in the mainstream thanks to the culture of picture-taking that Instagram has popularized, and this may have meant a day of snapping cute pictures on Valentine’s Day. How do you recycle empty film cartridges and/or a camera after use?

Polaroid, the company itself that manufactures and popularized polaroid photos, does not recycle or reuse empty film cartridges according to their website. As for the camera itself, whether you have a ‘Polaroid’ camera or a one-time use camera, your options are to:

  • resell the device
  • repair any broken parts so you can continue using it
  • or disposing of it according to your local rules

Remember that every municipality has its own rule on how to properly dispose of e-waste like cameras and their film cartridges, so be sure to download the Recycle Coach app and use the ‘What Goes Where’ search tool.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Heated blanket

A heated blanket can be perfect for a snow, chilly Valentine’s Day quarantine date! If your gift to yourself or a loved one was a new heated blanket and have an old one to toss out, read on so you can avoid contributing to the problem of e-waste.

Heated blankets are electric blankets. Electric blankets cannot be recycled. They contain materials that are not safe to be at a recycling facility, and the nature of a big, twisty blanket can mean tangling with machinery and gears.

The best thing to do with your old blanket would be to donate it. Here’s some advice on how to do this.

If you cannot donate your heated blanket, then head over to your local government website’s or download the Recycle Coach app to use the ‘What Goes Where’ tool to search your local program’s rules on what to do. While sometimes it’s safer to trash an item if you don’t know how to dispose of it, in this case we highly recommend that you do a little more digging to find out your local rules – otherwise, you might start a fire!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Earphones / headphones

For the tech and/or music lovers out there, earphones or headphones may be an obvious holiday gift. Cozied up under your new electric blanket while listening to music can be a slice of heaven for many people. With high-end headphones making common appearances on gift lists, it’s not hard to suspect the number of earphones that some of us have stashed in an unused drawer somewhere in our home.

How do you recycle headphones and earphones? First, check with the manufacturers if they accept and recycle old earphones. Apple, for instance, recycles old Airpods. Retailers like Best Buy also accept and recycle old electronics. If there’s nothing nearby or the original manufacturer does not accept old devices, then head to Recycle Coach or your government website for locations of e-waste drop off centres in your municipality.

Tech is in, toxic is out

Toxic relationships and toxic habits around e-waste are so 2020! Tech solutions – like our own smartphone app – offer a myriad of ways to help preserve our environment. To do that, we need to take recycling e-waste seriously.

What are some of the ways you make sure that e-waste products don’t end up in our recycling streams or in the incorrect bin?