Gwen Leron: 50 Shades of Green


5 Easy Actions You and Your Kids Can Take to Reduce E-Waste

How Kids Can Help Combat Electronics In Our Landfills

How Our Kids Can Help Combat the E-Waste Problem

Many of us tend to want the latest and greatest when it comes to gadgets. Because of the work I do, for certain electronics, I'm definitely one of those people. I'm going to take a wild guess and say you like to keep up to date with the latest too! Am I right? The latest smartphone with all the new must-have features, the hottest e-reader that can hold more books than your old one, or the latest PVR so you can record two shows at a time while you watch another. New technology and all of these cool features are great, but at the rate new upgrades are coming out, the e-waste issue has become a problem. Thankfully, it's one we can all help to control.

To start, when we buy the next great upgrade, what is the best thing to do with our now out-of date electronics?

We find a place that will properly recycle and dispose of them for us, and we don't throw them in the trash!

  Quick Fact: Did you know that recycling one metric tonne of laptops can save the energy equivalent of powering 710 Ontario homes in a year? Something so easy to do can be great for the environment.

Being kind to the environment is just another piece of the puzzle when it comes to raising smart, responsible children. Showing them how important it is to care for our earth is an easy parenting responsibility when compared to some of the other things we need to discuss with our kids.

Here are 5 simple things we can all do to show our kids how important (and easy!) it is to recycle electronics:

1. Teach your kids why electronics are not fit for throwing into the trash

The truth is, many adults don't know what to do with their e-waste, so it is up to us as parents to learn what to do with old electronics and then pass along that knowledge to our kids. Not sure how to start the conversation? Show them this video:

  Quick Tip: When electronics are thrown into the trash, they eventually end up in a landfill where they will sit forever. While they are sitting there, chemicals and metals will be released, seep into the earth and eventually end up in the soil, waterways, and our drinking water - all of which creates problems.

2. Have your kids collect and donate working condition electronics to charities or organizations

Not all old electronics need to be recycled once we have upgraded to the latest and greatest. We recently donated two old computer monitors that were no longer being used (but still in great working condition) to a charity, and the charity was happy to receive them. Do a little research into charities and organizations in your area to find some that will accept working electronics you are no longer using.

  Quick Fact: Cell phone manufacturers are producing one billion cell phones a year globally, and the range and number of electronic devices is having a huge impact on the environment. Electronic devices are the fastest growing items entering the waste stream.

3. Have your kids collect old electronics from family members

This can be made into a fun challenge to see who can collect the most. Have your kids ask family members (and even close neighbours) for all of their old electronics. Chances are, those items are just going to sit in a corner collecting dust or end up in the trash, so they'll be doing everyone a favour! Once items have been collected, find a drop off location near you and bring the items in as a family.

  Quick Tip: TV's, cameras, computer monitors, computer towers, scanners, smartphones, VCR's, DVD players, small kitchen appliances — these items are all fair game and will happily be taken at your local drop off point (click here for a full list of what is accepted). Our drop-off location is a Best Buy location close to our home. We drop things off on a regular basis. Easy!

4. Buy used or refurbished electronics

Before deciding to buy a brand new gadget, consider making a more “green” purchase by purchasing a refurbished or second-hand product. There are many retailers who sell refurbished electronics, do a little research to find some in your area.

Involve your kids in your purchase and explain why making this choice is a great idea for the earth (and your wallet!).

  Quick Fact: As we regularly upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphone, it's good to know that for every one million cell phones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered from them (yes, our smartphones contain gold!). The gold recovered from recycled phones produces 324 times more gold than from the same weight of ore processed in a traditional mine. Recycling out-of-use electronics means we have to mine fewer raw materials like copper and gold.

5. Have your kids approach a teacher to help organize an electronics drive at school

My kids' school recently formed a Green Team and the students on the team are responsible for encouraging green actions from their fellow students. Think of the amount of electronics that can be collected from an entire school of families! Your child may be further motivated if they are in grades 4-10 this year.

This April and May, kids in 32 schools across Ontario will get to experience a travelling, recycling exhibit. They will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on experience that will bring the recycling story to life so they have a better understanding of its importance.

Those taking part will learn the following (and more!):

  • The ways to reduce, reuse and recycle our devices.
  • How electronics impact household energy consumption and how electricity is generated.
  • How chemicals in electronics enter the environment if not properly dealt with.
  • Why it’s necessary to dispose of electronics properly.

  Quick Tip: If you live in Ontario and your child is attending grade 4 -10, they will now also have access to information about the many ways in which technology impacts our world. Teachers who would like to learn more can get info and download a toolkit to get started here.


It sounds cliché to say that kids are our future, but I don't know any other way to say it. They will one day be the adults running the show, which is why it's important for us to model for them how to be kind to the environment. Showing them how to recycle their electronics is such an easy thing to start with or add to what you already do as a family.

To learn even more about the environmental benefits of recycling electronics, visit