How to recycle your old electronics
There’s nothing like a shiny, new device, and with frequent new releases, many people upgrade every couple of years. Cell phones with their two-year product cycles, are the biggest source of e-waste.
Putting electronics into a landfill risks leeching toxic metals. Further, a lot of what’s in landfills gets exported to developing countries where there are fewer laws about exposure to e-waste.
A good deal of what’s meant to be recycled ends up being illegally exported too, unfortunately, but it’s still important to recycle. But as consumer awareness and pressure increases, more companies are stepping up to regulate the recycling process. Many take back their own products, and some take back all electronics for reuse or recycling.
What are best practices for dealing with your old electronics gear?
Of course, giving them away or donating them to a charity or thrift shop is great if they still work, or you can sell your stuff for some cash ,via online marketplaces or classifieds, yard sales, etc.
Places to donate used electronics.
You can get valuable tax deductions by donating. Donating used equipment also keeps it out of landfills. Dell has a partnership with Goodwill where they will accept used electronics for donation and recycling. If there’s no location near you, you can do it through the mail. Info here.
This article on Mashable gives you that one and four more charities.
Extend the product lifecycle.
Using your products for longer keeps them out of landfills and necessitates buying less. If your computer is overheating, it may not be broken, perhaps it just needs a fan cleaning. Various parts can be replaced and upgraded–the keyboard, battery, memory, motherboard, screen, and more, may be replaceable if they’re no longer functioning well.
Being careful to avoid viruses, turning on software updates, and generally maintaining both hardware and software will keep your gear lasting longer. Be sure to use a charging cord that’s appropriate for the power needs of your device.
Recycle or trade in.
This helpful page on the EPA site has a list of stores and manufacturers that recycle as well as more info about donating. The EPA reminds you to delete your data and remove batteries. (Even though the recycling cos. say they delete your data, it’s a good idea to do it yourself! As for batteries, you should ask the place you’re taking it to if they can deal with the batteries or if you need to recycle them separately; check local laws for details.)
A lot of manufacturers will take back their own products. But even better, Staples and Best Buy will recycle electronics for you even if you didn’t buy them there.
Staples and Best Buy will recycle electronics for you for free.
You can sometimes trade in old electronics, if the place that accepts trades deems them to have some trade-in value. The trade is that they’ll give you a store gift card. Staples has an in-store and online Technology Trade-In program where they’ll evaluate your device. If they don’t accept it for trade, they’ll recycle it for you.
Best Buy also does electronics recycling, just bring the item to them.
According to the standards posted on their site, devices or their parts will not be incinerated or disposed of in a landfill. Recycling companies are required to make all data unrecoverable, and are not allowed to export non-working components or items. They screen for anything that can be reused or refurbished. They don’t employ “forced, bonded, indentured or involuntary prison labor.” Hopefully, they stick to these promises.
If we all do our part, at least we can lessen the environmental impact caused by our gadgets. Computers cut down on waste, too, by eliminating a lot of processes and other equipment that would use more resources. A computer or tablet can now be a phone, a camera, place to watch movies or TV, a recording device, word processor, fax machine, video editor, and more. Even a smartphone can perform these tasks. We no longer have to travel to do a lot of errands we used to need to. Photographers only use darkroom chemicals if they choose to. Many people telecommute, saving on gas, pollution, even dry cleaning.
So don’t feel bad about using a computer or tablet–just do it responsibly.