Think about getting rid of electronic waste as we approach Earth Day

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Earth Day is next week and there will be a lot of reminders about recycling, composting and, in general, lowering our impact on the world. Many of these things have become part of our daily lives, but when it comes to electronics, we are throwing too much of it away.

Phoenix holds hazardous waste recycling events about once a month. That is where they collect hundreds of gallons of paint along with old cans of who knows what.

"What we want to do is divert from our landfill," said Albert Alvarez, an environmental specialist with the Household Hazardous Waste program for the city of Phoenix.

We found people lined up in the middle of the morning to make sure their waste doesn't end up polluting the water or air and a lot of them were dropping off electronic waste. We're talking about old TVs, computers, printers and speakers.

"We brought some old computer equipment," Kelly Halvorsen said. "An old 8-track player, speakers."

We want giant computer monitors and bulky old TVs that don't work anymore out of our houses, but cellphones stick around because they don't take up much space. It's estimated 120 million phones are sold in the U.S. every year, but only about 12 million are recycled.

"They're afraid of recycling anything that has their information on it," said Karin Harris, president of Egreen IT Solutions.

She said reputable companies will delete your information and help you get rid of products full of heavy metals.

"You have beryllium, cadmium, polycarbonates, lead, mercury -- all these items in electronics,"  Harris said.

She guessed they would collect about 15,000 pounds of electronics on the day of the event. It sounds like a lot, but we throw far more in the trash bin.

"We estimate in the recycling can at home or garbage can at home, a little less than 1 percent are household hazardous waste or electronics in there," Alvarez said.

That adds up to 200 million tons of hazardous waste a year. And that's just in Phoenix.

"It's almost like it's not terribly convenient to recycle," Halvorsen said. "You have to really want to recycle at this point."

It takes effort to get in the car and recycle these things, but it is getting easier. You can now take electronics, plastic bags and light bulbs to stores such as Best Buy and Staples.

Most cities will take your hazardous waste at the waste transfer stations. Here is some information from Phoenix and Scottsdale: