“I see dead computer equipment. They are everywhere. And they do know they are dead.”

It used to be our homes were full of photo albums and reading materials at which we ceased to look.  And while that may still be true of some of our homes, now our houses and apartments are full of unwanted desktops, obsolete laptops that boast less memory than our smart phones, and a spaghetti-like mess of cables and cords.  Add the keyboards and mice that we used to click on those digital computers, and that is quite a heap of electronic waste (e-waste) in our closets, under our beds, and in our basements.

Of course the waste does not stop with the unwanted electronic equipment.  Much of what we use to connect to the digital word are energy hogs.  In fact, some suggest that the cable boxes in our homes consume more energy than our refrigerators.  All around the e-waste from use and disuse is sobering, reminds Tom Szaky of TerraCycle.  Two million tons of e-waste is pitched in the USA alone annually.

Much remains to be done reduce our generation of e-waste.  TerraCycle is one company taking steps in the right direction.  The New Jersey-based firm, partnering with Logitech, has launched the Keyboard and Mouse Brigade.  The program allows users to box up and send TerraCycle unwanted unwanted keyboards and computer mice.  TerraCycle, in turn, promises to churn the discarded equipment into new products.  Customers need to only collect about 20 pieces of equipment per box and TerraCycle offers free shipping via UPS.  In turn, senders can either collect points to redeem as charitable gifts or have donated to the non-profit of their choice--and they can suggest new uses for the waste that TerraCycle collects.

Like any e-waste recycling program, however, TerraCycle’s has a ways to go in order to gain consumer acceptance.  So far the drive has raised about US$140.00--at two cents for each piece of computer equipment, the return has not proven to be much of a motivator.  Similar to the slow pace at which it takes most recycling programs to scale, it will take time for TerraCycle and Logitech’s combined efforts to pick up steam.  Among the largest barriers to effective e-waste recycling is convenience and proximity--education and more action by electronics manufacturers will be key.

Programs that would allow for old equipment to be exchanged for more modern and energy efficient equipment could have a role in reducing e-waste.  Another Triple Pundit writer has urged Apple to consider solar-powered iPads, and Logitech has earned favorable reviews for its solar powered keyboard for Macs.  Solar-powered gadgets and accessories not only have the “wow” factor (if they work well), but they would also be another nice carrot in encouraging more of us to pitch responsibly our e-waste.  Achieving the goals of waste diversion, recycling, and energy efficiency simultaneously would be the holy grail of any retailer, electronics manufacturer, or wireless carrier.

Published earlier this morning on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.