Each year, we as consumers generate millions of tons of e-waste like old cell phones, computers, printers and other electronics that will either end up in landfills or recycling facilities that are overflowing with more e-waste than they can process. As a consequence, a large percentage of it is bought by e-waste brokers who make millions exporting it to developing countries like China where the laws that govern how much they can import is not strictly enforced. In short, China has become a dumping ground for our e-waste. So, when that old laptop or tablet has seen better days, what will you do with it? Not Supported Anymore If there’s one thing that pains me, it’s to see old products like computers and others devices become obsolete and it’s usually not because it doesn’t work anymore, but because the manufacturer will simply no longer support the older technology that was used when they were made. So when it comes to disposing of our old electronic devices, we simply have to find other alternatives to dispose of them more responsibly like re-purposing or reusing them for a while longer. Smart Phones If you’re in the market for a new smart phone, many companies like Apple offer their customers the opportunity to use their old phone as credit toward the purchase of a new phone. Apple then takes these olds phones and refurbishes them and resells them at a reduced price through their online Apple Store which is an excellent way to reduce e-waste. They offer their customers the opportunity to upgrade if they can’t afford the latest smart phone. As far as the other millions of phones out there that can’t be used as a trade in, companies like Gazelle, www. gazelle.com, is a great place to go where you can sell not only your old smart phone, but other electronics like tablets and laptops as well. Obsolete Computers and Other Devices If you have an old, outdated desktop or laptop that’s just sitting around gathering dust, chances are you can still get some use out it by installing one of the many versions of the Linux operating system which are now much easier to use than in the past. Linux has everything you need in a basic operating system. And although you can’t use Windows software applications or games, everything you need for creating documents, surfing the web, social media, and playing music is all there. What sets Linux apart from Windows operating systems is the simplicity of the user interface which many older adults find much easier to use and navigate. Since Linux is an open source operating system, meaning the support comes from the Linux community, it’s absolutely free to use and there’s no registration required like Microsoft Windows. Now as to which version you should use, I recommend either Ubuntu, “oo-boon-to”, or Mint, which have become the two most popular among first time Linux users. For more details on these and others, visit www.distrowatch.com. Being Responsible While we as individuals may not make a big impact on the global problem overall, we can at least reduce our e-waste by taking the old electronics around the house that we would normally throw out and instead find a way to reuse them. Whether it’s selling them at a yard sale or through one of these buy, sell and trade forums, there will always be someone out there that may be able to use it. However, if it’s no longer working, be responsible and dispose at a recycle collection point (the city of Independence offers this service monthly) instead of the trash where harmful chemicals like lead and mercury can harm the environment.