Earth Day Electronics Tune-up

Recycle Your Used Technology
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but according to the EPA, even as recently as a few years ago, we were trashing around 1.8 million tons of electronic waste annually.

That’s despite the fact that half of the states in the US have laws about recycling your electronic waste. In my home state California, for example, it’s illegal to throw televisions, monitors, mobile phones, and the like into the dumpster. You can find out the specifics on your state’s laws the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse site.

So, what do you do? Bookmark this page on the EPA’s website. There you’ll find a searchable list of places to donate and recycle your used and broken tech, organized by common devices. This is the best bet for things that have really run out the clock on their usefulness.

Got something that’s still useful? You can benefit your bottom line as well as the planet. Often, donations of electronics in good working order can be written off as a tax deduction. Or, if you want a little extra cash in your pocket now, you can always sell your devices on a site like EcoATM or Gazelle. Additionally, Amazon’s Trade In Program, allows you to get a gift card in exchange for all sorts of things ranging from DVDs to clock radios. So check out all your options before you chuck out your old gear.

Power Up Wisely
I don’t know about you, but I go through a lot of batteries every year. Between remotes, ANC headphones, and kids’ toys, there’s always something that needs a new battery. Instead of disposable batteries for the gadgets that I use regularly, I’ve switched over to rechargeable versions. The Wirecutter has done a full guide on rechargeable AAA and AAA batteries that’s way more in depth than I could ever go. Not only are you saving the planet, you’re also never without batteries in the house!

If you want extra eco-points, you can always go solar. If you live in an apartment, or you’re not ready to switch to the whole house panels, you can start small and get a portable solar battery charger. There are a lot on the market, and the gang over at The Wirecutter sussed these out too. While these kinds of things can be seen as more for camping or people off the grid, for someone who has a balcony or folks who attend a lot of summer music festivals, you can keep your gear humming and also save some power.

Track the Thermostat
Remember when you mom used to nag you to turn off the lights when you left a room? Turns out, according to The Energy Department of the US, she was on to something. And if CES 2016 showed us anything, it’s that the connected home is here to stay. Systems like Nest and Nexia are creating ways for you to control your home’s temperature, lighting, and more. Forget to turn off the lights? Switch them off from your smartphone. Looks like an unexpectedly cool day? Turn off the AC. Is it raining? Skip the sprinklers. Small steps like these can make a large impact over time. So, if you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge but didn’t have a way to justify it, now you do. You’re welcome.