What happens to your TV on Feb. 17th?

So, despite the urging of the Obama administration and the fact that the government program is out of converter-box coupons, it's looking like the Feb. 17th deadline is still operative for the Big Digital Switchover.

If you can't get a converter box right away, you may be tempted (and is this the idea?) to buy a brand new digital TV, which makes your analog one obsolete. So then what? Gonna toss it in the trash, or leave it by the side of the road?


No, that's the kind of thinking that got us into this mess. (I'm sure if all those people at the beginning of SCTV knew how bad things were gonna get, they would never have carelessly tossed their TVs out their windows like that.)

You can take your set to an electronics recycler, but here's another layer of difficulty - some of these recyclers just take the precious metals they want and then toss the rest in a landfill. Others send the whole set overseas to have the potentially toxic parts disassembled where health regulations are weak to nonexistent.

One solution is to only take your TV or computer to a certified recycler who has signed the Pledge of True Stewardship, as explained by the Electronics Take-Back Coalition. This way you can be confident your set is leaving as small a footprint as possible.

So far, though, this ambitious program has collected few enough pledges that it's a little hard to find one of these responsible recyclers. Using the Take-Back coalition's map, it looks like the three options in PA are all further away than Baltimore, making the latter a better bet (NJ and DE so far have none). But are you really going to drive your old TV set to Baltimore?

Realistically, certifying recyclers' adherence to responsible policies is something the government should be doing, to make this a reasonable option. What's that? Who in government is gonna have time to do that? Simple: The thousands of employees hired for the task as part of the revised economic stimulus package!

It could work, and people could work. TV gone, planet saved. Good night and good luck!