(Family Features) Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, game consoles, cameras - electronic devices are a big part of American life. In fact, Americans own an average of 24 electronic products per household, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. With technology changing so rapidly and new "it" devices hitting the market every few months, a lot of those devices get discarded quickly. That adds up to a lot of potential e-waste.
In fact, a recent survey sponsored by RadioShack found:
- More than 90 million American adults 18 and over have unused technology products lying around the house.
- As part of that pile of retired tech, a third of mobile phone users report owning unused phones - and more than half of those with unused phones own two or more.
Some unused electronics just collect dust, but many get thrown away. The Environmental Protection Agency's most recent report showed that nearly 1.8 million tons of e-waste was simply trashed.
Fortunately, it's easier than ever to keep old electronics out of the waste stream.
Donate. Donations give schools, nonprofits and lower-income families access to equipment they might not otherwise afford. Before donating, check with the organization to see what they need.
Trade Up. If you are ready to upgrade to something new, programs such as RadioShack's Trade & Save let you swap retired technology for store credit toward your purchase. Simply bring eligible working electronics and accessories to a participating store or log on to www.radioshacktradeandsave.com for appraisal information. When you complete your trade in a store, you'll immediately receive the appraised value in the form of a store gift card (except where prohibited by law). Trade-ins may also be completed via mail by requesting a free shipping label available on the program website. In that case, a store gift card for the trade-in value will be mailed after the product is received. There's even a free Trade & Save app available to appraise your unused technology using iOS and Android devices. Products traded in are refurbished or recycled.
Recycle. Electronics in nonworking condition should be recycled. Check www.Earth911.com or www.e-stewards.org to find a recycling center near you. Many states have regulations about disposing and recycling electronics. Learn more about your state's laws at www.electronicstakeback.com.
Don't Forget the Batteries. Recycling your rechargeable batteries is another easy step you can take. Retailers like RadioShack also recycle rechargeable batteries. To date, the company has collected more than 5 million pounds in rechargeable batteries through Call2Recycle (www.Call2Recycle.org).
Don't let your old electronics gather dust or add to the waste stream. It just takes a few simple steps to put your devices to better use.
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