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Why should I quit vaping for Earth Day?

Earth Day is the perfect time to assess your daily habits and identify where there is room to improve. Maybe it means composting regularly, maybe it means biking to work more, and maybe it means quitting a habit with a significant environmental impact: vaping.

Say you are done using your vape. What comes next? Do you peruse the internet to determine if you can throw it away? Stow it in a nightstand amidst a graveyard of candy-colored plastic? If vaping is a regular practice, your used vapes can start to pile up. 

Or, maybe you are looking to quit. You may find yourself looking to get rid of a stray vape, or looking to empty said graveyard drawer. No matter where you are in your quit journey, we’re here for you with some responsible disposal guidance. 

What is the environmental impact? 

Disposable vapes pose a significant environmental challenge, in terms of both the quantity and kind of waste produced.  

“Five disposable vapes are being thrown away every second by young people in the United States despite the devices containing reusable lithium-ion batteries,” reports the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. “Over a year, this amounts to 150 million devices—which together contain enough lithium for about 6,000 Teslas.”

The lithium used in disposable vapes is the same as the lithium used to power cellphones and electric vehicles, but the quantities in vapes are too small to salvage, and the batteries are often soldered into the device, making it labor-intensive and costly to separate for recycling. 

These lithium-ion batteries are defined as hazardous because they are toxic in nature, and disposal is further complicated by their susceptibility to catch fire when damaged. 

As a result, these devices are often gathered and shipped to waste facilities. Veolia, an international waste management firm, reports having incinerated more than 1.6 million pounds of vaping waste in recent years, and much of the waste is unsold or discontinued inventory. One U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report identified “245 fires between 2013 and 2020 that were definitely or likely caused by lithium-ion batteries” in waste facilities. 

How to dispose of your vapes. 

So what’s next? 

Most businesses, schools, and government facilities are subject to EPA standards for proper nicotine management, which the EPA defines as an “acute hazardous waste” at high levels. For individual households, the EPA advises utilizing a household hazardous waste disposal site to mitigate risk and ensure that this waste does not corrode and release chemicals into the environment. 

Fortunately, many towns and counties have collection programs for Electronic waste (or e-waste) and these services are typically free for residents. A quick search online can help locate an e-waste collection site near you, or contact your local solid waste agency. 

For instance, New Yorkers can locate a Special Waste Drop-Off site in their borough. These are sites where residents can drop off products that cannot be conventionally disposed of or recycled, including vapes and e-cigarettes. 

Pursuing extra steps for safe disposal can help you confidently part ways with any last vapes. 

The bonus benefit of these extra steps. 

Research shows that environmental design is more important to your quit journey than willpower. 

What’s one way that you can design your personal environment to make vaping more difficult? Make a personal commitment to correctly dispose of your vape each time you use one. 

Not only is this approach environmentally friendly, but it may help you have a long-lasting quit. Combining your quit with other behaviors, like living more sustainably, is more effective than focusing on one behavior alone.

We often say community is a powerful tool for quitting–while quitting is a personal act and journey, it is enhanced by the support of the people around you. Attaching your choice to quit to a sustainable mission is a meaningful way to care for your community, and can be a Why in your decision to quit vaping. 

Get started, and celebrate your wins. 

If you’re ready to get started, set a quit date–maybe it’s even this Earth Day. Take our free dependency quiz to get a personalized quit plan that’s in line with your nicotine goals.

Finally, keep in mind that even your small adjustments are worth celebrating. Quitting vaping is a big lifestyle change, but gradual behavior shifts make an impact.