Monday, March 02, 2009

How Do I Recycle That? (Televisions)

We're starting a new series on the ASOG blog--
"How Do I Recycle That?" 
Every couple of weeks, we'll look at a household item that can be recycled, and give you tips on how and where to do it.  Here's to the third R!

The deadline for the national switch to digital TV may have been pushed back to June 12th, but that doesn't mean there isn't still confusion about it. In fact, last summer, half of American households had no idea when the switch was coming.

Here's the skinny so you're in the know:

By June, you can either get a digital converter box for your analog television (the government will give you a coupon to help!!) or get a new, digital TV. Otherwise, your screen will look like a snowstorm all summer and beyond. 

The environmentally conscious thing to do is probably to use the box, but if you're like me and your TV is so old the box didn't work with it or you're really in need of a set on which you can see what's taking place in your favorite films, you may be in the market for a new one.

So if you are opting for a new set, make sure to recycle your old one or we could end up with a whole lot of televisions in the landfill. (And you can consult this article on choosing a new one that's most energy-efficient.)

TVs are one kind of e-waste (electronic waste). And e-waste is the fastest growing component of our U.S. wastestream--in fact it beats the rest by far, growing three times as much as anything else (Earth 911). The bad news with e-waste's burgeoning is that it contains toxic stuff like heavy metals. In the case of TVs, they've got batteries, electronic circuit boards, and cathode ray tubes, all of which house hazardous materials.

It has been that electronics were shipped off to another country where unprotected children and their elders sifted through for the valuable parts (if you haven't seen it, Manufactured Landscapes is an excellent documentary about the excellent photographer, Edward Burtynsky, that deals with the subject). And here's a National Geographic article on that practice as well.

But now there are more and more options for genuine recycling of e-waste.

And at My Green Electronics you can similarly search for places to turn your electronics to have them recycled.

Let us know if we've missed any TV recycling opportunities!

And may you make it to the digital transition ready to plug in and switch on with a green conscience.


Eleanor said...

Great blog. It is SO important that everyone learns how to recycle electronics properly!

Have you heard about Christopher Swain? He's an eco-swimmer stroking from MA to DC to raise awareness about healthy oceans. Part of what he does is raise awareness about electronic recycling through EERs (ethical electronic recycling events). You guys may be able to collaborate! Check him out here:

All Shades of Green said...

Thanks, Eleanor.

And thanks for directing us to C. Swain--we'll check him out!