BoomerTECH Adventures: Don’t throw it away – donate, sell or recycle your old electronics
If you’re like me, you probably have a drawer (or more) full of old batteries, cables, phones, mice, and maybe laptops and computers taking up valuable space just waiting for you to do something. thing with old electronic equipment that you no longer use. .
I have at least eight laptops stacked in my basement awaiting proper disposal. But before deciding how I am going to get rid of these old devices, I have to clean each computer so that my data is erased. In an upcoming topic, we’ll describe several ways to erase your data so you can safely dispose of your old computers, phones, and tablets.
Did you know that electronic goods, including computers and phones, are the fastest growing waste problem in the world? We have all seen pictures of huge amounts of discarded gear. Just last week, I participated in a hazmat recycling day for my small town. The amount of discarded computers, keyboards, televisions and related equipment was staggering.
The United States alone dumps between 300 and 400 million electronic items per year, and less than 20% of this electronic waste is recycled. E-waste accounts for 2% of US waste in landfills, but it equates to 70% of all toxic waste.
Electronic devices contain toxic materials including mercury, lead, zinc, nickel, barium, cadmium and chromium. Once spilled, these toxic chemicals can seep into groundwater and, if burned, pollute the atmosphere. Either way, we can be harmed by these toxins from discarded electronics.
Fortunately, we have several options for disposing of old electronics: donate, sell, or recycle (responsibly). Let’s take a look at each of these options and see how each might work for you.
Donate: If your old phone or computer is still working, seriously consider passing it on to someone else, a family member, friend, or anyone who might use it. My wife and I regularly pass our old phones on to a son and daughter-in-law because they don’t need the latest and greatest (like us!). They have been using our cell phones for at least three years or until we upgrade and pass them the next set. Or give your old phone to a tween as a first phone or to an older family member as an upgrade to their flip phone.
Additionally, many charities are partnering with cell phone refurbishers and recyclers to raise funds while keeping phones out of landfills. Organizations such as Cell Phones for Soldiers, Eco-Cell and Recycling for Charities are just three of many. A quick search for articles describing how to handle the donation of old electronics is a good place to start.
Sell: Remember that companies like Apple and Amazon will buy back devices like computers, tablets, and phones that are in good working order. Apple has an easy-to-use online process for you to see how much your device is worth. BestBuy has a similar buyback program. Companies like Verizon, AT&T and others will accept exchanges on new purchases.
Recycle: Most cell phone providers have drop-off bins or mail-in programs to make it easier to recycle your old phone. Many communities offer recycling days once a year like the one mentioned above. There are also local businesses in most cities that recycle electronics for a fee. A little homework on your part will give you a plethora of options for recycling your old electronics.
Whether you’re selling, donating, or recycling your old devices, be sure to check out our next article on preparing your electronics for disposal. Good luck cleaning up anything you no longer need or want. It will take some work, but disposing of your gear responsibly is the way to go. Happy cleaning!
BoomerTECH Adventures (boomertechadventures.com) provides expert advice and resources to help baby boomers and seniors build skills and confidence using their Apple devices. Boomers themselves, BoomerTECH Adventures leverages their skills as educators to create experiences that meet individual needs through timely videos, Zoom presentations, tech tips and blog posts.
Obituary: Edward E. Green