The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world, generating more than 1,609 pounds per person per year. Congress alone can generate up to 11 million pounds of trash a year!
To put it another way, 5 percent of the world’s people generate 40 percent of the world’s waste.
Appliances are a huge contributing factor to this excess waste. In 2009, there were 3.8 million tons of major appliances and 1.6 million tons of small appliances contributing to municipal solid waste, according to the EPA.
Since appliance waste is detrimental to the environment, it’s in everyone’s best interest to minimize the amount of appliances we throw away.
When an appliance breaks, there might be an easy way to fix it. However, even if your appliance has reached the end of its life, there are a number of ways you could refurbish the unit. Appliances both big and small offer endless possibilities, since they are essentially a heap of metal material.
This article illustrate some of the ways you can repair or refurbish your appliances. Still want to get rid of your unit? There’s information on how to do that, too. No matter what route you decide to take, know that any of these options are an environmentally-friendly alternative to leaving your appliance on the side of the road.
Repair vs. Replace
When an appliance breaks, our first instinct might be to replace the whole unit. If your unit is a standard model and you are in the market for an energy-efficient model, by all means replace the appliance because eco models can reduce your energy bill and water consumption significantly, up to 50 percent in some cases.
If you already have an energy-efficient appliance or aren’t in the market to purchase a new unit just yet, you might be able to repair your appliance rather than replace it. If you aren’t handy yourself, consider calling an appliance professional to diagnose your appliance problem.
However, if you are at all handy, even in the slightest, you might be able to quickly repair the appliance yourself. Some of the most common appliance problems can be fixed by replacing a part, which could cost as little as $15.
Refrigerators, stoves, and washing machines are the appliances that tend to cause the most trouble. These troubles are oftentimes easily fixed by replacing a part, as outlined in this appliance repair infographic created by PartSelect Appliances.
Whether you hire a handyman or attempt to fix the appliance yourself, be sure to determine which side wins in the repair vs. replace battle.
Reuse Broken Appliances in Creative Ways
Here are some interesting ways you can refurbish your appliances:
1. Use an old refrigerator as a tool storage unit.
2. Use an old washer or dryer tub as a pot for a plant.
3. Turn a dryer drum into an outdoor fire pit.
4. Use an old circuit board to create new sturdy drink coasters.
5. Transform spare pieces into a beautiful piece of metal art.
When All Else Fails, Recycle
When your appliance finally dies and you’re ready to get rid of the unit (or spare parts), make sure to dispose of it properly. Appliances left on the side of the street are brought to landfills, where they will stay forever because they are non-biodegradable.
There are a few ways you can get rid of your appliances. One way is to donate them to Goodwill or other charitable organizations. You could also sell it (or give it away) on a site like Craigslist, where DIY enthusiasts oftentimes look for items they can re-purpose or fix. Some manufacturers will take back older appliances when they deliver a new one, so inquire about this option when purchasing a new unit. You could also use sites like Earth911 to find companies that will take these appliances off your hands.
Another way to get rid of old appliances is to use a recognized recycling service. Note that certain appliances (such as freezers, refrigerators, and air conditioners) contain CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbon, which is harmful to the environment. The Clean Air Act mandates that certain procedures must be followed when disposing of these items. If not, the EPA can charge fines up to $25,000. Most cities have a pick up service to take care of these kind of appliances, so look into your city’s guidelines before disposing of your unit. You can usually find information on The National Recycling Coalition website.
The steel from more than 39 million appliances recycled last year yielded enough steel to build about 160 stadiums the size of the new Pittsburgh Steelers stadium. Thus, properly recycling your appliances can greatly benefit the environment by providing a significant amount of building material.
Have other items that need recycling? Here are some tips for recycling other forms of e-waste.