Caring about the environment is patriotic.
May 4th, 2009
Update on 5.6.09: I contacted Remington, the maker of my broken hair dryer. Click here.
Update on 6.16.09: I’ve discovered a few recycling options. Click here.
My hair dryer finally bit the dust this morning. I’ve had it for so long now — at least seven years — that I don’t even remember when I purchased it. Hair dryers have a notoriously short life cycle, but mine probably lasted all this time because since moving to the sun-kissed climate of Southern California five years ago, I just let my hair air dry every day. Why waste all that electricity, right? But now, broken dryer in hand, it occurred to me that I had no idea how to dispose of it. How do you recycle a hair dryer?
Since starting this blog, I’ve found ways to recycle nearly every household item: curbside recycling for everyday glass, plastic, metal, and styrofoam; Staples for used printer cartridges; Gimme 5 for spent Brita filters; Craigslist for unwanted furniture — heck, I even mail our BPA-free toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups back to Preserve!
This wasn’t the only broken household appliance currently in my possession. The recent hand-me-down of a high-end Miele vacuum cleaner from my mom (I’ve learned my lesson about short life-cycle products; Miele vacuums have a 20-year life expectancy) left me wondering what to do with my old, run-down cheapo model. So what’s an eco-citizen to do?
Freecycle, a web-based network that lets you find a home in your community for unwanted items that would otherwise end up in the landfill (kind of like Craigslist, but everything is by donation only), is a possibility for my old vacuum — I’m sure there’s someone handy out there who could fix it up like new again — but who would want a broken hair dryer?
I called the Department of Public Works for LA County to find out if any kind of recycling program exists for small household appliances, but at present, electronic waste recycling only encompasses computers, printers, cell phones, etc. Next on my list? Call Remington, the maker of the hair dryer. (The office is closed for the day, but I’ll contact them first thing in the morning.) I think it’s telling, however, that even for someone as environmentally focused as myself, it didn’t dawn on me to call the manufacturer until after I had already researched community recycling programs. We as consumers have encouraged companies to keep churning out products, yet given them no requirements — let alone passed legislation — as to taking back those very things when they’re broken or we no longer find them useful. Why should we pay twice — once for the initial purchase, and again with our tax dollars for government-run recycling and waste disposal programs — for the products we buy? The onus should be on the manufacturers, yet we’ve given them a free ticket thus far. We commend companies that enact take-back recycling programs, instead of expect it. How did we allow this to happen?