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Dealing with E-Waste
Just like computers, television sets, hair dryers, and cell phones, alarm clocks should not be simply thrown into the trash. Only properly recycled alarm clocks are safe for the environment. Your electronic clock is considered to be personal electronic waste, also known as e-waste. When e-waste sits in landfills, toxic chemicals and heavy metals are gradually released into the ground, polluting the surrounding water and soil. When electronics are incinerated along with other trash, they release toxins into the air.
In 2000, more than 4.6 million tons of electronic waste was added to landfills in the United States, according to the EPA. While many states and counties have made it illegal to throw away this hazardous material, e-waste continues to accumulate. Even worse than the problem in the United States is the problem exported by the United States and Europe. Used electronics are shipped to third world countries in Asia and Africa. This leaves the people of countries such as Ghana, Pakistan, and India to deal with the pollution of electronic products that were used in other parts of the world. E-waste has become a global environmental issue. By recycling your old alarm clock you can at least make sure that you are not contributing to this eco disaster.
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How to Recycle
To recycle your alarm clock you will have to find out what options are available in your community. Some areas provide collection services for items that are still usable, such as Lacomax in Los Angeles County. Digital Tips has a list of organizations that will accept donations of used electronics. If your alarm clock still works, find out if there is anywhere to donate it to continue the use of the product. This deters the need for another alarm clock to be purchased, used, and thrown away.
If the clock no longer works than it is time for it to be recycled. First, find free local services with Earth 911. Simply search for electronic recycling with your zip code. There are usually a number of potential drop off locations such as electronic stores, public libraries, local recycling centers, and even the post office. While disposing of your alarm clock in this way does entail a trip to one of these locations, it doesn't cost any money, and it is the responsible way to take care of your personal electronics.
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Properly recycled alarm clocks should be the standard rather than the exception. While it is much easier to toss your broken or used clock into the trash bag and leave it on the curb, it is not responsible to do so. Throwing electronic waste in the garbage is essentially adding toxins and heavy metals to the environment. Take the time and make the effort to gather your e-waste and drop it off on your next trip to the post office, public library, or electronics store that accepts electronic waste.
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"Where does e-waste end up?" (Greenpeace) <http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/where-does-e-waste-end-up/>
"ECycling." (EPA) <http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/index.htm>
photo by: Uberculture (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/uberculture/3192509381/>