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Don't Throw It All Away: E-Waste, the Holidays and the Environment

Nov 25, 2011 06:46PM ● By Merleanne Rampale

The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) can help make your holidays a little more environmentally friendly. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away more than 5 million tons of extra garbage, and an important part of SWALCO’s mission is to help educate the community about the 4-Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled) and to share information and ideas that will help support them.

SWALCO has created a holiday guide with fun and interesting ways to turn the holidays a little greener, with loads of ideas for celebrating in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion, green gift suggestions, eco-friendly decorating and entertaining ideas and green cleaning recipes, as well as helpful information and resources. It’s available online at under SWALCO Publications.

Electronics are some of the most popular gifts around the holiday season, but last year’s must-have gadgets, equipment and old technology (E-Waste) need to go somewhere. Residents can drop off their broken or unwanted electronics at no cost at one of the SWALCO residential electronics recycling collections held at various locations around the region. And after putting up new decorations, bring broken holidays lights to a collection event as well. The website lists accepted items, drop-off locations and events.

Beginning January 1, 2012, the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act landfill ban on certain electronic devices will take effect, including televisions, monitors, printers, computers keyboards, faxes, VCRs, digital music players, video disc players, video games, small scale servers, scanners, computer mice, digital converter boxes, cable receivers, satellite receivers and video disc recorders. These items will no longer be allowed in the regular trash.

Residents should direct these items and other unwanted and broken electronics to a SWALCO collection or other IEPA-registered collector. If the unwanted equipment is in good working order, it may qualify as a tax-deductible donation to a charitable organization. Make this holiday the best yet by discovering that little changes can make a big difference.

Merleanne Rampale is the public information and education director of SWALCO.