These days, many consumers are upgrading to ecofriendly, Energy Star certified appliances. Newer appliances-such as refrigerators or washers-use significantly less resources than older models and replacing your old unit can be a more sustainable choice. Moreover, the price difference for an Energy Star model versus a standard model is usually quite minimal (and will be made up in energy savings over time), making it a great time to buy ecofriendly appliances.
For example, when I moved into a new home last summer, I replaced an older refrigerator with a new Energy Star model and saw significant savings on my electricity bill. It was a great choice-both for my wallet and the planet-as I was using less resources and taking another important (and easy) step towards going “green.”
While it may sound more sustainable to go out and replace all of your appliances with Energy Star appliances, it is important to remember that manufacturing new appliances takes significantly more resources and energy (in terms of mining metals, producing plastics, shipping them, etc) than running your older, less ecofriendly appliances. Rather than getting rid of functioning appliances, the best bet for the planet’s health may be to use your appliances until they break and upgrade them to Energy Star appliances at that time.
That said, purchasing Energy Star appliances is only half of what it takes to green your appliances-you will also want to pay attention to how you dispose of your old appliances. Many appliances contain a variety of toxic chemicals and consequently, the most ecofriendly option is to recycle them. Thankfully, there are many different options for recycling your old appliances.
The best options for recycling your old appliances when upgrading to Energy Star appliances are:
Donate Old Appliances to Resale Organizations – If you are replacing a working appliance with an ecofriendly Energy Star appliance, you should donate your old appliance. Rather than throwing it away or simply sending it to a recycling center, it will get into the hands of people who need new appliances but cannot afford to buy them. There are a number of different options around the United States including Habitat for Humanity, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Salvation Army. Keep in mind that you should clean your appliances thoroughly and make sure that they contain all of the parts (and manuals if you have them).
Freecycle or Craigs List – The websites FreeCycle and CraigsList can be helpful options for recycling old appliances-both working and non-working. You can offer them for sale-possibly giving you further financial incentive to upgrade-or for free. Even non-working appliances are often able to be disposed of this way by people who will repurpose them or take them for scrap. If they are going to be scrapped, it is worth asking about how they will dispose of potentially toxic parts. If they don’t have a good answer, you should probably look elsewhere for recycling your appliance.
Utility Company Recycling Programs – In some states-such as Michigan-utility companies offer options for recycling old and inefficient appliances. These programs are designed to encourage customers to upgrade to Energy Star appliances and sometimes even offer financial incentives such as rebates. It is certainly worth calling your utility companies to see if they offer such a service. The Energy Star website also maintains a listing of special offers and rebates.
Retailer Pick-Up Programs – Many appliance stores will pick-up your old non-working appliance when they deliver your old appliance. This can be an easy option for recycling appliances, but it is important to make sure that the stores are actually recycling the appliances and not just throwing them in a landfill.
Recycling Services – There are a number of different companies and government entities that will recycle old appliances for consumers. Your local appliance dealer can often point you in the right direction, or you can look online. For example, Earth911 has a helpful search option (just enter what you want to recycle and your zip code) for finding recycling facilities. When recycling appliances, you may have to pay a bit for a company to pick it up, but if you look around you can often find somewhere that will pick it up for free.
There are many options for recycling appliances and it is an important step if you are upgrading as part of an effort to go green. Recycling old appliances keeps harmful chemicals out of the landfill and is the ecofriendly thing to