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What’s the harm in hoarding electronic devices?

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Perhaps you have a smartphone, a laptop as well a desktop computer, two TVs, and an alarm clock that provides a wake-up call you depend on. These devices are relatively new—but are you holding onto older, outdated versions you don’t need? And what about that VCR that no longer works?

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Hoarding explained

Hoarding means keeping things that have outlived their usefulness or are no longer relevant in your life. Examples are items like books, paper, clothing, cardboard boxes and plastic bags that, if kept long enough, will turn into clutter. Hoarding has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the American Psychiatric Association sees hoarding as a potentially separate condition.

Separation anxiety

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People who hoard find it difficult to get rid of their possessions; they have strong feelings about letting things go. For instance, people who hoard electronic devices feel that since they were acquired at considerable expense, they are too valuable to part with. Hoarders may feel responsible for their old devices and are in denial concerning the “clutter” these items have caused. If this sounds at all familiar, keep in mind that hoarding may affect your family members in ways you didn’t anticipate. At the very least, the clutter may cause frustration among those closest to you. At the most, it could lead to health or safety problems for you and your family. (Are your precious but dusty electronic devices kept together in a room you refuse to have cleaned?)

Bad for the environment

It isn’t about what you see on the outside of your electronic devices, the plastic, aluminum, and glass. The problem lies with what’s inside. Take your smartphone as just one example. Inside are minerals and metals such as copper, cobalt, lithium, silver, and gold. These are resources that must be extracted from the earth, and they will eventually run out. Meanwhile, if you hoard your unused devices, you and others of the same mindset are putting pressure on the mining industry to continue with an activity that hurts the environment and its fragile ecosystems.

What to do

Think about breaking the hoarding habit by donating an old computer to a student who can use it for educational purposes. Perhaps an elderly neighbor would enjoy having one of your old, but still working, TVs. If you really like that VCR, you could even go online to learn how to fix it. For everything else, there’s recycling.

Responsible disposal

Remember that electronic devices contain not only metals that can be reused in other applications but also toxic chemicals that pollute the environment and are harmful to birds and animals. Here at Urban E-Recycling, we are EPA registered. That means we have the expertise to dispose of your electronics responsibly. Worried about data? Don’t be. Our services include shredding your hard drive. But if giving up your favorite old and unused devices is still a bit painful, it may make you feel better to know that the services we provide at Urban E-Recycling are always free of charge.

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Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do.

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Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 

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