Taking the NextStep in your reuse journey
A few months back, I was in the market for a new flatscreen TV. After all, there’s nothing better than snuggling up and watching a favorite movie on a dreary winter day.
I wanted a state-of-the-art system that was “new” to me but not “new.” While there are many great options for buying nearly new electronic products (i.e., thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, etc.), I sought a one-stop shop where professionals could help me make the best decision.
Enter the NextStep Recycling ReUse Store, located at 987 Garfield St. in Eugene.
Until then, I had never stepped foot inside the business, and I was shocked to see what occupied its well-organized shelves. While its “bread and butter” commerce comes from repairing and selling refurbished computers donated at the NextStep Recycling Donation Center (245 Jackson St., Eugene), the store sells everything from TVs to computer bags to video game consoles to USB cables, said Sam Motley, store manager.
While I was very tempted to purchase my first Xbox console, I paid $120 for a 2019 widescreen smart TV, an accompanying soundbar, and a TV wall mount. It was a fantastic deal, considering that new soundbars alone sell from between $95 and $300.
And perhaps just as importantly, I saved electronic devices from the landfill.
According to the World Health Organization, electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest-growing solid waste stream. For reference, less than a quarter of e-waste produced in 2019 was known to be formally recycled. Furthermore, e-waste can be dangerous if recycled improperly – particularly for children and pregnant women. Conversely, unwanted electronics also contain precious resources that can be recycled.
“My biggest surprise working here was that if (NextStep wasn’t) here … all the things found in the store would be in the garbage and go in the landfill,” said Koby Drake, a NextStep sales associate. “And all of the things here are in perfect working condition.”
NextStep currently recycles more than 2 million pounds of e-waste annually, and customers and donors come from as far away as Roseburg and Salem.
“(Our customers) can get a lot more dollar to dollar than they can at a new store,” said Motley. “We are a huge resource for affordable electronics.”
Additionally, the nonprofit’s “ePower Our Community Partnership” program gifts computers directly to children and adults living in foster care, persons experiencing disabilities, family members leaving domestically violent relationships, migrant worker families, individuals with barriers to educational and employment needs, underfunded schools, and nonprofits.
So put your unwanted electronics to good use and pick up something new to you simultaneously: A true win-win.
Daniel Hiestand is the outreach coordinator for Lane County Waste Reduction and a monthly columnist for The Chronicle.