Local solutions for the world's e-waste problem
Fast Heart Mart made quite a few stops while touring the United States this summer but, except for the odd bathroom break, none of them were at a gas station. The Albuquerque band has put more than 4,000 miles on a van that requires no petroleum. Its only fuel source is recycled vegetable oil.
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Theirs is an extreme example of musical environmentalism, but Fast Heart Mart isn't alone. Neil Young and Willie Nelson have both jumped on the biofuel bus. Other groups, like Minneapolis' Cloud Cult, are quietly buying "green energy credits" to counteract the total environmental impact of touring, from CO2 created by air travel to energy used to light the stages they play.
Terrific. But what about you? You're an audiophile (you're reading the music section of an alternative weekly, aren't you?). You probably don't feel good about leaving the planet worse off than you found it. Maybe you'd like to help, but ... how?
Here's a better question: Got a broken mp3 player?
When you toss chip- and rechargeable battery-harboring electronics into the trash, you're illegally dumping toxic materials in our landfills. (A single cell phone contains enough hazardous gunk to contaminate 40,000 gallons of drinking water.)
According to the EPA, electronic waste accounts for less than 4 percent of all solid waste created in the United States. What's really alarming is how fast it's growing—at least two to three times faster than any other waste stream we produce. Multiply the escalating numbers of new personal computing devices that are released or rendered obsolete each month by a few decades, and we've got a massive problem. It's beginning to dawn on us that the paperless revolution isn't impact-less.
At the same time, "e-cycling"—electronics waste recycling—is entering the lexicon of environmental buzzwords. When placed in the right hands, your old mp3 player can be stripped down and reprocessed in a way that actually does humans some good, from artwork to refurbished classroom equipment. And e-cycling is available right here in New Mexico, right now. Here's where to find it.