If you watch television and have an older CRT (cathode ray tube) or analog TV set, you have undoubtedly heard that by February 2009, you will need to have purchased a converter box in order to view basic television programming. Most of us already enjoy digital television programming with satellite or cable and won't need to do much to prepare for the change. However, if you are one of the estimated 20 million households that do not take advantage of these services but rather watches TV using an antenna, you will not be able to receive any programming after midnight on the February 17, 2009.
CRT television owners can choose to purchase a converter box using a government subsidized coupon for the purchase or they can buy a newer model television that can accommodate the change to digital, like an LCD or plasma screen.
The change made by Congress to transition to all-digital television has been put in place for several reasons:
1. Better picture and sound quality is available with digital television
2. More free channel options are available with digital television
3. Transitioning frees up more frequencies that can then be used by emergency services.
What's The Big Deal?
Because many homes may in fact be getting rid of their older television, there is a growing concern as to what to do with those older TV models. An estimated 75 percent of unused and broken televisions get stored away rather than recycled or disposed of. Keeping an old set around is really not a good idea. Older CRT sets contain anywhere from four to eight pounds of toxic lead, a fairly unhealthy thing to keep lying around your garage. Additionally, throwing these TVs into a landfill is not too environmentally savvy either because the lead can leech into the soil and groundwater if broken. Recycling can help prevent the release of this hazardous lead.
Additionally, television sets are big, clumsy, non-biodegradable objects that take up large amounts of space in our nation's landfills. Many states have already started prohibiting or limiting the ability to dispose of electronic devices in landfills. California, for instance, was one of the first states to pass a law prohibiting the throwing away of old TV sets, followed by several other states. The Environmental Protection Agency website can give you more information on limitations in your area.
How Can You Recycle Your TV?
There are a number of different options available to CRT and analog TV owners wishing to dispose of their sets in the most socially and environmentally responsible way. Before handing over your TV to any of these organizations or companies, however, ask some simple questions to verify that they comply with state or local electronics disposal laws and that they send any hazardous waste to a facility that specializes in the safe and legal disposal of such things.
Donate It To Charity: Consider giving your TV to a local charity, church or hospital. They may be willing to take it off your hands as well as pick it up from your home. You can contact the Electronic Industries Alliance for a list of local and national organizations that accept used electronic items.
Local Goodwill, Thrift Stores: Thrift stores will generally take an older TV set as long as it is in working condition. If you don't know where to start, simply make a few calls and see who might be interested.
Electronics Retailers: Some retailers, such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Office Depot will work with television manufacturers to sponsor in-store collection of televisions, computers and other electronics devices. This service is usually free or there may be a small charge. This is an incredible convenient option for people that want to dispose of a TV and get a new one all in one shop. Some retailers may even pick up the old TV set when they deliver your new one.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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