In economic downturns, both government and individual household budgets operate at a deficit. With the current US deficit, it is estimated that if a family was in the same economic state as the nation, they would be over their budget by seven times. Add to that the possible ending of current tax concessions coupled with tax cuts in government agencies, many will find themselves with difficult financial decisions to make.

These cold hard facts have had many people re-thinking their habits of the “throw away and buy new” culture of old. This is good news for the individual budgets of these enlightened citizens. At the same time, it turns out that these new habits serve a double purpose. Habits that help to repair, re-purpose and recycle benefit the environment greatly.

Recycle, Re-purpose Appliances

Many people who use to throw out working or broken appliances are re-thinking this approach of disposal. This is good news for the environment, since letting them end up on the sides of roads, woods or landfills can release harmful elements into the ground. People are beginning to understand that there are other options rather than disposing of appliances in a way that is harmful to the environment. If the appliance is in working order, or just needs a little work, they are donating to agencies that distribute them to the needy. Do it yourself (DIY) has become popular, with plenty of online repair articles and electronics parts supply websites providing the necessary components to make the repairs. Imagine the self-satisfaction of successfully repairing a broken appliance as well as the benefit to your pocket.

Recycle, Re-purpose Electronics

It is now known that computer monitors, newer TV models and other electronic waste can contaminate the ground and water supply with several harmful elements. A conscientious effort by both manufacturers and consumers is being made to recycle and reuse these objects. Like appliances, most electronics can be recycled and many people have been donating unwanted electronics that are in working order to charities, schools and other organizations.

People are trying to avoid sending old electronics equipment to the landfill. We have learned to be smart and re-purpose used cell phones, fax machines and more. These items can be returned to the stores and manufacturing companies to be refurbished and re-sold. Most of the stores offer gift cards and other incentives for bringing in electronic equipment.

Trading Your Equipment Up

Think before you toss! A search for online recycling solutions results in a large number of e-cycling programs. You will no doubt have seen ads for companies offering cash for your old cell phones, inkjet printer cartridges and other consumer electricals.  Many major manufacturers will also offer cash incentives for ‘trading in’ your old appliances.  Often the incentive is a discount off a new model made by them, with many allowing you to trade in appliances from other manufacturers.  The benefit here is two fold as the manufacturer sells a new appliance, and you not only get a new one you also get it at a reduced price and do not have the hassle or expense of disposing of the old one.  These kind of buyer incentive schemes are not just restricted to electrical goods either, furniture, clothing and toys can also be ‘traded in’ this way.

Budgets are tight and we can no longer continue with the old approach of throw away and buy new products instead.  The effect of this behavior can and has had devastating consequences for the environment.  Major manufacturers of cars to household appliances have stepped up to the mark, not only offering to recycle old goods, but also making new products as recyclable as possible and ensuring spare parts are readily available.  For this approach to be truly effective however, consumers need to meet them halfway and do the responsible thing with their old, broken or unwanted goods.

This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy, who is studying for a degree in environmental sciences. She is also a contributing writer for StL & Associates who distribute a range of quality electronic components and computer peripherals. Photo by Alpha


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