Is your company in the market to upgrade your technology products? According to Free Geek Portland, over 70% of overall toxic waste in America is from e-waste (1). E-waste is a term used to describe electronics at the end of its useful life and are discarded or given to a recycler (2). With an increase of organizations operating fully or partially remote, it is important to source technology products responsibly and ensure said products are refurbished or recycled properly at the end of their useful life.
Our society is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and the number of electronic products that are purchased brand-new and hit the landfill in short order is troubling. There is a significant opportunity to counteract this negative phenomenon by purchasing refurbished technology. It can be an excellent choice if you are looking to do good for our planet and to save some money. At Reeve, we’re walking the talk! Despite our tech purchases being relatively low value, we believe that no impact is too small to make a difference. Whether it be a laptop, a monitor, or a keyboard and mouse set, we have been purchasing from Free Geek for the last two years, a non-profit organization that refurbishes unwanted technology to reduce environmental impact from e-waste.
So, could refurbished technology be the answer for you and your company? Here are some of the reasons why we believe so.
- Buying refurbished saves money
You or your company might not have a big budget for technology products and that’s okay! Technology can be expensive, especially if you have a few items to purchase for your staff. Purchasing refurbished technology can save you a few hundred dollars per piece. When purchasing from trusted suppliers, refurbished products are often inspected and repaired by the original manufacturer or a qualified third party to ensure that it’s functional.
- E-Waste is harmful to the environment and society
We already know that waste is a large issue in our society and are always reminded to reduce and reuse before recycling. End of life electronics are no different; in fact, e-waste has a large list of chemicals that are harmful to our environment if they are not discarded properly. Often, e-waste is sent from a high-income country to a low-income country where there are little to no regulations, or regulations are poorly enforced. Along with e-waste being harmful to our environment, it is highly toxic to humans as well. According to the World Health Organization, many women and children from developing countries work in the informal e-waste sector and exposure to high levels of contaminants can lead to irreversible health problems such as cancer and neurological damage(3).
- Buying refurbished minimizes emissions
When opting for a refurbished product, you are minimizing the amount of carbon emissions from the entire life cycle of the product. Products made of virgin materials have embedded carbon emissions all the way from resource extraction to manufacturing to product use and end of life, not to mention all the land, air, or sea transportation throughout the life cycle. If your business is looking for ways to minimize your carbon emissions, buying refurbished instead of brand new is a great way to do so.
It may seem troubling that our reliance on technology is becoming more significant; however, there is an opportunity to limit your impact by shopping refurbished or donating items to an organization that refurbishes technology near you. If purchasing refurbished isn’t an option, make sure you look for sustainable eco-labels such as Energy Star or EPEAT. If you don’t have a non-profit organization like Free Geek near you, Best Buy’s Refurbished Program and Facebook Marketplace is also great options. Next time you are in the market for technology products, challenge yourself to minimize your impact by considering refurbished products before buying new!
- Free Geek Portland (https://www.freegeek.org)
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/cleaning-electronic-waste-e-waste)
- World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news/item/15-06-2021-soaring-e-waste-affects-the-health-of-millions-of-children-who-warns)