Every six months to a year it feels like there’s a new phone to buy, your laptop needs an upgrade, and even your tablet is out of date. But what happens to all that old technology after you make the switch to something new? If you’re anything like us it sits in a drawer filled with old phones or it makes its way to storage with the old dusty printers and desktop computers. Eventually, we’ll clean out our garage and throw it away and it will join the global pile of e-waste.
The amount of electronic waste in the world is incalculable at this point, but it is a heavy contributor to climate change and is even dangerous to exposed humans. Abandoned electronics crowd landfills with toxic metals and plastics that leach into the soil and water. If the electronic waste is burned it can pollute the air as well.
Getting rid of your technology because you no longer need it is a task that needs to be handled properly and with care. You don’t have to become a climate activist to dispose of your old electronics safely, there are plenty of options for what to do with your old tech. You can do something positive for the environment and potentially financially rewarding for yourself, ultimately the decision is up to you but we’re here to give you a few options!
Sell it and Make some Cash
Even if you think that old smartphone in your junk drawer is massively out of date, you may still be able to sell it. It’s a great way to help the cost of any newer technology and there are plenty of ways to make money off of that outdated phone or computer.
- Some retailers take back their own products, you can look into where you bought it from to see if they’ll buy it back.
- You can also sell old tech yourself online, with tools like FaceBook Marketplace, it's easier than ever to list it and get some instant cash.
- There are also plenty of companies who will take your tech and sell it for you. This is a great hassle free way to get that old tech out of the house while making a buck.
Donate it to a Good Cause
If you aren’t able to sell it for some reason, donating that old tech can be a great sustainable way to get rid of outdated devices. Even if your computers are somewhat old, they can still be utilized by different organizations.
Shelters for people who have experienced domestic violence often take old smartphones and laptops to replace items that their clients had to leave behind or to help with more secure and safe communication. Another option is that schools, after school programs, community youth programs, and religious organizations can often use older devices to run basic programs that help participants.
Some of these donations may even be tax deductible, so being generous with that old tech may help you when tax season rolls around.
Be Kind to the Environment
If your old tech is too broken or outdated to sell or donate, make sure you dispose of it in an eco-friendly way. Don’t just toss that broken phone in the trash and let it pollute the environment from a landfill, there are a few easy ways to ensure your old tech is disposed of properly.
Make sure that you’re giving it to a certified e-waste recycler, luckily there are several well-known organizations that take most electronics for safe disposal.
Most local Goodwill stores not only take donated equipment but they partner with Dell to recycle the electronics that they can’t sell. Another retailer who will accept technology for recycling is Best Buy, they’ll take nearly anything and dispose of it properly. You can also check with your local recycling and trash pick up service as they might even have more options for you!
If you’re not sure if there’s anyone in your area, check out earth911, which is an incredible resource for anything you need to recycle. Simply put in your zip code and what you want to recycle and they’ll provide a list of all the certified places that will take your old electronics.
Always be sure to give your unusable technology to an organization that knows how to dispose of it properly and with care!
Be Careful of Hazardous Materials
You might think that throwing that old iPod or a few batteries in the trash is no big deal, but it can have long lasting effects. Electronics that sit in a landfill raise concerns about air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution. The air can be polluted when the electronic waste is burned down to the copper. If not disposed of properly, toxins from electronic waste like lead and arsenic can enter the soil and water supplies.
That’s why it’s important to let someone handle the devices who truly know how to safely dispose of them with the least amount of impact on the environment. Even something as thoughtless as throwing batteries in the trash can have a negative impact, especially rechargeable or lithium batteries.
Some cities have specialized programs that help you recycle batteries with the regular trash pick up, while others have special drop off days so you can bring your toxic household items like batteries and paint for proper disposal and recycling.
It may take a little more effort but think of the bigger impact you can have on our environment by doing this one task.
Don’t forget to Cancel or Transfer your Subscriptions
When you donate or recycle your old computers, remember to transfer any software subscriptions. It’s fairly common to have a software subscription like Microsoft Office 365 or the Adobe suite that requires users to log in, rather than having machine specific licenses. Remember to deactivate any subscriptions on your old devices that you are giving away so you can reactivate them on your new tech and keep all the programs you need for daily use!
Erase your Data
Whichever method you choose to get rid of your old tech whether it be selling, donation, or recycling make sure to erase any information stored on them. This will protect your data from anyone who would want to steal it and use it. This is especially important if you’re selling the devices yourself or you are donating them to an organization for use or recycling, you certainly wouldn’t want your personal data falling into the wrong hands!
However you dispose of that old and outdated technology just make sure you're doing it in a way that is safe and healthy for our planet. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to our team and we’d be happy to answer whatever we can and steer you in the right direction!