Last night, my fella decided to replace his 15-year-old alarm clock. For the eight years I’ve known him, he’s had to fiddle with the dials and whack the speakers every night as he sets the alarm, so this is something of an overdue miracle.

But then there was this: “What are you going to do with it?” says I. “Throw it in the trash,” says he. “That’s not the proper way to dispose of a small electronic device,” says I, confidently. “Why not? It cost six bucks,” says he. “Because it’s full of heavy metals that end up in the waste stream in China,” says I, hoping I still sound authoritative. “Well, then what’s the proper way to dispose of it?” says he, pausing on his trashward march.

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“Uh …” says I.

We agreed that I had 24 hours to find out, or in the trash it goes.

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