We put them in shoe boxes, in basements, in seldom-used drawers - anywhere to keep them out of sight. But chances are you have old cellphones, computers, mp3 players, and big boxy tube televisions hidden away somewhere in your house. You're not alone.
The Consumer Electronics Association estimates Americans own 28 different electronic devices per household - many of them obsolete or broken. So, if you're like me, you might have asked yourself, "What am I supposed to do with all of this stuff?"
Most of us are familiar with traditional recycling efforts that encourage us to recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, and other household goods. But there's more to recycling than just tin cans and milk jugs. Those electronics gathering dust in your closets, garages and basements can be recycled, too, helping to preserve our environment while strengthening our economy.
Throughout my life and career, I've always made recycling a priority. It's something I have strived to encourage, both through my personal efforts, but also as a public official. That's why I am proud to serve as co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus, along with Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). Together, we are committed to raising awareness of the many benefits of recycling, while urging the federal government to lead by example through the adoption of good recycling habits.
Recently, I was surprised to learn the federal government is the nation's largest purchaser of electronics and, consequently, is also the largest disposer of such devices. As a result, the federal government has the opportunity - and the responsibility - to ensure that it recycles devices in the safest, smartest way possible. I'm told that, each week, our government discards up to 10,000 computers. That's hard to believe, isn't it? The sheer amount of electronics that the federal government recycles makes it an important partner in helping to promote electronics recycling and, by doing so, spur the industry to meet growing demand by investing in facilities that can serve the public and private sectors and average citizens like you and me.
The Obama administration's creation of the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship is a great first step. The National Strategy seeks to coordinate government agencies to support responsible purchasing, management and recycling of electronics within the federal government. Through leadership by example, our government will not only reduce the size of its electronics footprint, but it will also make it easier for all Americans to do the same by leveraging the size of the federal government's e-recycling efforts.
Environmental stewardship, like e-recycling, is a responsibility we all share. April 22 is Earth Day, and it's a great time to think about ways we can all help keep our environment clean and green. This year, I encourage you to think about how you are recycling your electronics.
I oftentimes say that everything I do, I know I can do better. Adding electronics to my recycling regimen is a perfect example of that. By all of us taking small, individual actions today, we can help keep our environment clean for future generations, as well as for our own.