Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Think Before Pitching It In The Trash

It has been widely reported that during 2008 more than 32 million new digital TVs will be purchased by consumers in the US. One of the driving forces behind this trend is the looming February 2009 analog cut off date. On Tuesday, February 17th at the stroke of midnight, most of the TV stations in the US will cease broadcasting using analog technology and rely totally on digital broadcasting. Unless you have purchased converters or are connected to cable or a satellite service, your old TVs will not work. With this in mind, many either have already opted to get a new TV or will soon purchase one.

In the past when most people bought a new TV they seldom pitched out the old one. If it was still working it ended up in the kid’s room or in the basement family room. Since without a converter the old TVs will be useless, the prediction is that many will end up on top of “ole” Rumpke.

And it is not just TV’s that add to this “techno junk.” With consumers replacing cell phones about as often as they get a haircut, many of us have a drawer in the kitchen brimming with old cell phones, AC adapters, car chargers and hands free head sets. All of which we don’t use anymore. There are usually a bevy of various size batteries that have been removed from a device because they were dead. I am not sure why we put them in the drawer. I guess we are thinking that they might just come back to life some day. Fat chance.

The fact is that we all amass a tremendous amount of electronic junk. The stuff, long ago state of the art and awesome to use, is now useless. That same awesome junk is filled with some very nasty stuff. To send it to Mt. Rumpke is to release lead and other heavy metals, and some chemicals like arsenic and other poisons, into our environment. Not a good thing.

So with all this stuff filling up our junk drawer and basements, what are we to do? First there are some simple ways to properly and safely dispose of cell phones and batteries. Stores like Best Buy® have bins at the entrance of the store that accept old phones and batteries. So take those items out of that kitchen drawer, put them in the back seat of your car and the next time you are near a Best Buy®, deposit them in the bins.

Some of the larger items pose more of a challenge. Companies like Dell® offer to take back your old computer free of charge when you purchase a new one. Some newer “old” computers are accepted by some non profit organizations. For example, Crayons to Computers, the free store for teachers, has a program with Cincinnati Computer Cooperative to take relatively new models. You can contact them on line at their web site www.cincinnaticomputercooperative.org . If your computer equipment is not usable, Hamilton County residents can bring it to a special recycling depot. For more information call 946-7766 or go on line to www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org . You can use this web site to search for places that will accept most any household refuse that should not be mixed with regular trash or garbage at the curb.

I also found out that The Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District is very aware of the Feb. 2009 analog shut off and will be planning a TV recycling event either this fall or next spring or both. They promised to let me know the dates and I will pass them on in a future column.

Finally, when you purchase a new TV or other major appliance be sure to ask if the retailer offers to remove the old one and dispose of it in an environmentally safer manner.

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