In my last writing here on LAMPpost, I talked about how my husband and I are in the process of moving and decided to get rid of our old television set. Like many other people, though, we have much more than a TV that we need to dispose of. As we went through our things, we found various random electronic items like old routers, phone cords, frayed extension cords, chargers and the like. We’ve set this e-waste aside (I call it my e-landfill) and yesterday I started looking for e-waste dropoff sites and Department of Sanitation events where I can bring a shopping bag full of stuff to one place and know that it will all be taken care of–reused, recycled, whatever. But, I came across a disturbing piece of news: All of these events, which were coordinated with the DSNY, private companies and nonprofits, have been cancelled until further notice due to budget cuts.
Of course there are alternatives. I can take my stuff to EplanetEwaste and pay for the convenience of more or less handing them a bag of stuff and walking away. One excellent option is to bring unwanted e-waste to the Lower East Side Ecology Center, although their e-waste events are currently on hold until September. Another is RecycleThis!, which was formed in 2002 in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s recycling program budget cuts, but their event calendar is empty. Outside of that, I can investigate buyback or donation programs for every individual piece of e-waste I’ve stockpiled. This can be done, but it’s time-consuming and inconvenient for me to have to make separate trips for each item.
That’s not necessarily an excuse not to recycle my e-waste, but what I hate is that it is at all difficult. A densely-populated city like New York, where mp3 players, laptops and cell phones can seem like standard issue items, should make it as easy as possible for me and everyone else to make responsible choices. I could just stuff it all in a garbage can; that won’t be illegal until July 2010. PLANYC has a lot of great ideas for reducing carbon emissions, but–and please correct me if I am wrong–basic recycling isn’t part of it. I understand that nobody likes making budget cuts, but it’s counterproductive to try to build a healthy city in a modern age where electronics recycling is not sponsored or more widely promoted by the city. Let’s hope that when the downturn starts to turn up, the DSNY e-waste programs will be restored.