Photo via Flickr: Theogeo

Photo via Flickr: Theogeo

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?

–Jennifer Grayson

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5 Responses to “How do I recycle a broken hair dryer?”

  1. Karen Says:

    Did you have any luck finding out how to recycle your hair dryer? Mine died last week and I’ve been searching around on the internet with no luck. The funny thing is I didn’t think to call the manufacturer until you mentioned it here.

  2. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    Unfortunately, I haven’t. I did get my hair cut this weekend, though, and my stylist told me that many of the professional hair dryers can be repaired. A professional dryer is much more expensive than your average drugstore Conair or Remington, but the ability to have it repaired, plus its much longer life span, saves you money in the long run. And, of course, buying a higher quality product that will last over a short-lifecycle one that ends up in the landfill is always a wiser environmental choice, in my opinion.

  3. Jennifer Grayson Says:

    I did. Here’s an update:

  4. Laura L. Says:

    Best Buy will take just about anything electronic, they have a video on their site about what they do with it. They also take ink cartridges, batteries, & cords. Even those old CRT tv’s & monitors (the kind with the fat back).

    They remove plastic parts, cut them up & make them into new plastic. Metal & glass gets recycled the same way (except melted down). At this link you can click on the Learn More part & see if your state has any restrictions:

    Also, as a heads up:
    Hard plastic tops from bottles, cosmetics, etc… can be recycled at Aveda salons, just collect until you have a bunch & turn them in to a local Aveda. They use them to make new cosmetics bottles. **If you didn’t know, the tops aren’t supposed to be thrown in with the rest of the PETE & HDPE plastic that is accepted at most recycling centers & picked up by waste management.

    Light bulbs can be recycled at Ikea’s or Home Depot’s, Ikea takes any kind, HD takes only CFLs.

    **A lot of times, employees aren’t aware of the programs unless they’re a manager so calling & asking doesn’t help, the website has the best answers.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Why would you expect a company to be responsible for taking back its products once they quit working? This is a ridiculously entitled point of view. Would you expect a car manufacturer to take back your car if it breaks down? Would you expect Pizza Hut to come to your house and throw away the pizza box for you when you finish eating? Once you buy the product, it is your property and your responsibility.

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