Landfills: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. As the proliferating population possesses ever more “stuff,” the landfill mountains of detritus rise skyward. Once a landfill reaches capacity, a new one must be started.
While your household garbage and natural fibers eventually decay, electronics last forever. Large appliances go to industrial recycling scrap yards where their parts can be recycled, but small appliances and electronics linger longer than the tombstones in a pioneer cemetery. Their leaching chemicals pollute ground water and the soil around them.
Phones, PCs, TVs and all other products requiring electrical power contain numerous toxic metals and materials. Simply discarding them threatens not only the environment, but the health of future generations. If you surreptitiously bury them in your backyard, don’t eat the tomatoes that grow nearby.
Fortunately, hope dawns. A surge of “right-to-repair” laws are sweeping the nation. This gives you and third-party service centers the repair manuals and parts to extend the lives of electronics. You no longer need pay exorbitant rates to the manufacturer for out-of-warranty repairs, assuming the manufacturer will even repair the item.
Apple finally rents tools (with a hefty security deposit) and sells parts for many of its products. For details, visit self
servicerepair.com/home. Even with official Apple tools and parts, it’s best not to attempt to repair your own iPhone. The procedure is so delicate and complicated, one slip could destroy the phone.
These same manuals, parts and tools are available to local professional service technicians. Thus, you finally stand a good chance of repairing any brand, such as your Apple product, faster and at a far lower cost than sending it back to Apple (or visiting an Apple store in Chicago or Indianapolis).
The uBreakiFix chain opened an outpost on Springfield at Mattis a few doors down from Starbucks. Other local repair experts include Fyxit, 202 E. Green St., C; Campus Mobile Solutions, 616 E. Green St., C; and TechEd Solutions, 605 N. Neil St., C.
If you wish to dispose of a working but dated product, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and Salt & Light accept a range of functioning electronics, as does Goodwill. The Idea Store in Lincoln Square rehomes a select number of electronic products. They even take CDs, DVDs and new cassette tapes. Call before donating. Good Vibes accepts a limited quantity of audio/video gear. The Lions Club welcomes cellphones to be given to those in need. It places small drop boxes for eyeglasses and phones around the community.
A 6-year-old iPad, iPhone or laptop may no longer be useful to you, but it may please a preteen relative or neighbor. Be sure to wipe all personal data before gifting or donating unwanted electronics.
Similarly, whether you donate to a charity or dispose, be sure to not only delete files, but also use professional data-scrubbing software to obliterate any retrievable data on hard drives and SSDs. If you recycle CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, floppy disks and USB thumb drives, physically damage them.
Try to keep electronic products in use as long as feasible. My decade-old iPad still performs all necessary functions for occasional use.
When your electronics reach the point of true obsolescence or finally emit their final photon, recycle them. Best Buy and a few other big-box stores position boxes in their lobbies for recycling many products. Mack’s Twin City Recycling, 2810 N. Lincoln Ave., U, accepts most electronics other than monitors and TVs.
Finally, communities throughout the area sponsor official electronics recycling events at least once a year. The next one is Oct. 15 at Parkland College. This advance registration event even accepts computer monitors and all kinds of TVs. For further information, call 217-819-4127. For a complete overview of Champaign County recycling, visit ccenvstew.com.
Never discard electronics or batteries in the trash, thus poisoning generations to come. While the truck that trundles down your street seems to make trash magically disappear, its contents never vanish.