Just in time for spring cleaning, BECU’s Shred and E-Cycle event is a prime opportunity for community members to get rid of sensitive documents and old electronic items for free.
On Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., BECU employees will be at the Everett Mall, 1510 SE Everett Mall Way, accepting up to three grocery bags or two banker boxes of documents per person.
Similar events are typically held twice a year in Federal Way and Tukwila, typically in the spring and fall.
Documents will be destroyed courtesy of Shred-It, a professional document destruction service with mobile shredding units. They remain on-site until the two trucks hauling the shredded documents are full.
Shredding sensitive documents like old tax papers, bank statements, and credit card offers is always a great idea, as these are a common gateway to identity theft, says Todd Pietzsch, BECU’s senior manager of business development. Tax documents are especially sensitive, given they contain your full name, address, social security number, and income totals.
“That has pretty much everything on it that somebody who wanted to commit identity theft could use,” Pietzsch says of destroying sensitive tax papers. “It just takes a few things to become you.”
Likewise, it’s important to wipe the memory of old digital devices you’re getting rid of. That means more than just deleting everything, as doing so won’t permanently destroy most digital data.
Manufacturers usually provide instructions on how to wipe memory from old computers, phones, or tablets, ensuring that anybody who gets their hands on your devices can’t recover any sensitive information they once held.
A factory reset will usually do the trick, but in the most extreme cases, you can also physically destroy an old hard drive with a hammer or a couple of holes from a drill.
As for electronic recycling, BECU will accept old TVs, laptops, cellphones, monitors, and central processing units (CPUs) from computers through E-Waste LLC, a local, full-service, state-certified electronic recycling company. Have an old printer, VCR, or other miscellaneous electronic item? They’ll take that, too, though a small recycling fee may be involved.
Discarded electronics are an increasing issue in many landfills and incinerators across the United States and beyond. In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated about 82% of all electronics at the end of their lifespans went to these places instead of being recycled. This puts harmful and toxic materials like mercury, lead, and cadmium in places they’re definitely not supposed to be.
According to data from the Washington Materials Management & Financing Authority, Snohomish County recycled just over 2,411,000 pounds of old computers, monitors, e-readers, tablets, TVs, and portable DVD players just during 2021. In total, Washington State recycled more than 15 million pounds of these devices during that same time period.
One other note for the shred event, should you attend: Cash or non-perishable food donations can also be made here, and both will go to support Salt of the Earth Food Blessing.
Although the event goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the best time to show up is generally between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Whenever you show up, of course, the important part is that you’re getting rid of stuff you don’t need anymore, in a secure, responsible manner.
For more information on BECU and its shred events, see its website.