Published May 2011: Updated January 13, 2014
I love to de-junk. It is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy the satisfaction that comes from eliminating the clutter from my home. I sort all my junk into 5 categories:
- Stuff that can be sold locally or on Ebay.
- Stuff that will qualify for a tax deduction by donating it to a non-profit thrift store.
- Stuff that will be recycled and reincarnated into something else.
- Stuff that can be composted.
- Stuff that will rot for eternity in a land-fill.
In the years since my (almost) religious conversion to recycling, the amount of waste junk that makes it to the trash has gone down by more than 80%. My family of 6 can go 3 weeks before our single, black city garbage bin is full. The recycling bin is now overflowing every other week.
Almost everything can be recycled.
It’s almost a challenge or game now to see what can I do with this other stuff so that it doesn’t have to be wasted.
Lately, consumer electronics is a growing sub-category for me in the waste category.
For example, We I had an old cordless telephone that was destined for the trash because small appliances are not accepted by my local curbside recycling company. It pains me to throw out something that is full of valuable materials simply because they are in a form that is not cost effective to recycle. But what if I were taken apart first? It’s fun to see the insides of an electronic gadget anyway.
Just to make absolutely certain, I spoke to a representative of Rocky Mountain Recycling about what I can do to further recycle old appliances.
She said, if you have the time, the desire and the obsession, feel free to separate discarded consumer electronics into their individual components. The plastic cases and metal pieces, (cases, screws, mechanical hardware) are recyclable by themselves. The circuit boards and wire are another matter and cannot be accepted at the recycling facility.
Fair enough. The cordless phone handset and base are 85% plastic and metal. The rechargeable battery pack will go in the battery collection bin at Home Depot. The tiny circuit board, rubber DTMF buttons and wires are all that remains. I could also clip the wires and circuit boards and collect them until there is enough to justify a trip to a copper wire recycling place, but I’ll save that task for phase 3 of my journey to compulsion.
By spending a few minutes of therapeutic dismantling of old, damaged small appliances, I feel better and have reclaimed a good 85% of the total mass of the appliance to be recycled, giving it a second life as something else.
Hey 10-year-old Zombie Dirt-Devil Vacuum cleaner with the missing wheel, even though you’ve far exceeded your lifespan, you’re not going into the trash after all. You’re getting stripped and recycled tonight.