View the Green Tip in your browser.

6 Ways to Minimize Your E-Waste

The typical American household has 24 electronic devices and in 2009 the EPA estimated that there are 2.37 million tons worth of electronics ready to be disposed of.  This would fill almost five football stadiums!

1. Re-evaluate – Do you really need that extra gadget? Try finding one device with multiple functions. 

2. Extend the life of your electronics - Buy a case, keep your device clean, and avoid overcharging the battery.  

3. Buy environmentally friendly electronics - Look for products labeled Energy Star or certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

4. Donate used electronics to social programs – and help victims of domestic violence, children safety initiatives, environmental causes and more. Ask your student REP for a postage paid mailer for your cell phone or ink cartridge. For each item recieved, the World Wildlife Fund will receive one dollar. 

5. Reuse large electronics - Post to Harvard’s Reuse List

6. Recycle electronics and batteries in e-waste recycling bins located around campus.  Large electronics can go in the larger bins found in your building.  Many Best Buys and Staples recycle electronics too.

a map of all the e-waste bins on campus


Minimizing E-waste is Important:

The manufacturing of these devices and the use of rare materials that go into their production represent a huge source of embodied energy.  Minimizing e-waste helps to conserve resources and reduces the amount of energy we take from the earth.

Reusing the precious metals and plastics in old cell phones alone instead of making or mining more of them would save as much energy as flipping off the power to 24,000 US homes for an entire year*.


Green Carpet Award Winners That Minimize E-waste:

Thomas Lingner of the HCL Digital Imaging and Photography Group has driven many sustainable initiatives that propelled his 40-person office to achieve Green Office Leaf 4, including   increasing awareness and reducing the amount of e-waste generated in his office.

Basma Hashmi started the Green Initiative in the Wyss Lab and is a part of the Wyss Sustainability Team.  Hashmi actively promoted e-cycling and played a large role in creating the Wyss lab electronic recycling program.

As Manager of Administrative Operations at Harvard University Information Technology, John Courville handles the proper disposal of equipment like computer hardware and batteries of all kinds.  Courville’s consistency and dedication to green practices is an inspiration to all that work with him. 


Learn and do more:**

  • You can learn how to delete all of your personal data off of your device before you get rid of it.
  • 17 states, including Massachusetts, have banned the disposal of electronics in landfills.
  • See how a battery goes through the recycling process.


** The Office for Sustainability is not responsible for the content of the provided weblinks and does not endorse any of these products or ideas.