I freely admit that I’m not particularly good at this: whenever I’ve needed a new computer or phone, I’ve always bought new. But buying recycled, reused or refurbished is part of participating in a circular economy: if there’s no demand, it’s very likely that our e-waste and other materials will end up in the landfill.
The beginning of the school year may be a good time to put this into practice by buying refurbished electronics for your kids. Not only will you complete the circle – so to speak – but you’ll likely save quite a bit of money.
But how do you make sure you’re not getting a lemon in the process – isn’t that the downside to buying refurbished or recycled? It can be… unless you look for the right certification. Now some of the big box stores have their own certifications – which may even come with limited warranties – but only two programs have received e-waste accreditation from the Environmental Protection Agency: the Basel Action Network’s e-Stewards, and Sustainable Electronics Recycling International’s R2 Ready for Reuse. These certifications help you determine where to take your e-waste… but R2 recyclers also sell refurbished electronics.
Is this as convenient as heading to the big box store? No… you’re certainly going to find a more limited range of devices offered. If you don’t have an R2 recycler nearby, and need to rely on those with online sales, that limits you even more. The trade-off, though: you’re going to find great deals on computers that you know will perform as advertised: part of the R2 certification involves a take back policy. Some of these recyclers take the extra step of offering warranties… up to a year in a few cases.
Do the kids really need the latest devices with all the bells and whistles in order to do their homework? Probably not. If necessary, you can buy peripherals to extend the functionality of that refurbished computer… which can then be recycled at the end of their useful life, too.
Have you bought refurbished, either for the kids or yourself? What did you look for? Share your knowledge and experience with us in the comments…
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