It’s out with the old and in with the new, especially when it comes to your tech devices. You always want the latest and greatest cell phones, televisions, laptops, headphones, and speakers. So what do you do with all those old gadgets when you’re done with them?
With an alarming 50 million tons of electronic goods being thrown away around the world every year, the time has never been better to see just how to recycle and repurpose your tech products. The answer is simpler than you may think.
What is E-Waste?
Merriam-Webster defines e-waste as “waste consisting of discarded electronic products (such as computers, televisions, and cell phones).” E-waste stands for “electronic waste” and has come to define any tech gadget or device that’s ending up in landfills and harming our planet.
Why is E-Waste Bad?
People are becoming more and more addicted to technology. Unfortunately, due to that amount of interest, many gadgets and devices are ending up in landfills. In fact, e-waste increased by 21% over the last 5 years.
E-waste is a problem because many tech devices use mercury, or some other element like lithium, copper, palladium, lead and cobalt, in order to function. These chemicals are scarce, but they’re also extremely important in creating the products we use every single day so they shouldn’t go to waste. Not to mention, these chemicals can be hazardous to the environment if they seep into the land, air, and water.
For both of these reasons, it does more harm than good to simply throw your old tech devices into the trash.
What Tech Devices Can I Recycle?
The good news is most of your tech devices can be recycled. You just have to take some time to do your research. Don’t just throw your gadgets in the garbage!
The following tech devices can be reused, repurposed, or recycled:
- Cell phones
- DVD or Blu-ray players
- Voice assistants
- Game consoles
- Wearable gadgets
- Office equipment
Laptops & Tablets
Is it time to say “goodbye” to your laptop or tablet? Wipe your data first and then you can find a place to recycle or donate it near you. You can also recycle keyboards, computer mice, and monitors.
Broadband equipment, like routers, hubs, and cable boxes, can be recycled. Reach out to your provider to see what they recommend as they likely have some kind of collection service that’s free of charge.
Cables & Chargers
You can easily recycle cables and charging bricks by bringing them to a local drop-off location. Look into also donating old cords to STEM programs who may be able use the wires for various science projects.
Both Androids and iPhones become outdated really fast, which is why most people upgrade their smartphone every 2 years. Luckily, you can recycle your old device at a number of places.
This one’s for the people who still have tube TVs in their basement! You can easily get rid of an old TV by taking it to a nearby recycling facility. If it’s too heavy to carry, contact a junk removal service and they’ll take care of it for you.
DVD or Blu-ray Players
Streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ have taken over the way we watch movies and shows. Thankfully, many recycling facilities will take your DVD or Blu-ray players if they’re no longer being used.
Do you have a bunch of old CDs taking up space in your house? You can donate them to a secondhand store and try to make some extra cash, or send them to the CD Recycling Center of America or GreenDisk to get them disposed of properly.
You can typically recycle portable speakers at any facility that accepts “audio equipment.” If your speaker still works, however, you should consider donating it to an organization in need, or trying to sell it at a secondhand store.
Gamers love retro consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Before you toss it in recycling, try to sell it online, or better yet, regift it to a kid in your family.
Headphones & Earbuds
Is the left earphone louder than the right? First, try to fix your headphones or earbuds by holding them with electrical tape or changing the sound settings. If that doesn’t work, you can search for a recycling facility near you.
Smart Watches, Fitbits, VR sets, and many other pieces of wearable technology can be brought to a drop-off location or recycling center. Consider also donating this technology to a nearby community center or gym.
Cameras & Camcorders
Sony, Canon, Dell, LG, and HP are a just a few companies that offer recycling programs for old camcorders and cameras. You can also get many other electronic gadgets recycled at their facilities.
Remarkably, 375 million empty ink and toner cartridges are thrown away every year! You can recycle them as well as old scanners, copiers, and printers at a nearby e-waste facility.
There are a ton of appliances in your house that can be recycled, even if you need to hire a junk removal company to remove them. Keep this in mind if you plan on upgrading to something new.
The following appliances can be recycled at a local facility:
- Coffee makers
- Garbage disposals
- Vacuum cleaners
- Hair dryers
- Curling irons
- Hair straighteners
- Electric shavers
- Air conditioners
To save yourself some time and effort, gather all your old devices in a bin and keep the entire thing in storage. You can then recycle, donate, or sell everything inside in one swoop at the end of the year.
The best way to dispose of your old electronics is to:
- Search for a recycling center near you.
- Donate to a non-profit, library, or school.
- Turn your tech into cash.
- Repurpose your gadgets into something new.
Where Can You Take Old Electronics for Recycling?
You probably know where to find a grocery store and a good pizza place, but how about a recycling center? Most people don’t really know where one is close to them.
There are a ton of helpful directories and a few stores that will help you recycle your old electronics. Try any of the following:
- Apple stores
- Best Buy
- Office Depot
- Telecommunications companies
- Earth 911
Do you have an old iPhone or a Mac? Apple has a takeback program that allows you to trade in your device in exchange for a credit or gift card toward your next purchase.
Best Buy will take old electronics for recycling, even if they weren’t purchased at their store. This includes computers, cell phones, radios, appliances, camcorders, and GPS devices. You can even trade in some of these gadgets for store credit!
Many Target stores have kiosks set up near the entrance or exit. These cardboard bins are there to collect a bunch of electronics, not limited to MP3 players, batteries, and smartphones.
You can purchase a tech recycling box on the Office Depot website. Fill this box up with 20 pounds worth of electronics, and Office Depot will then take care of the recycling for you.
Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all have trade-in programs for your old cell phones. They will either recycle them or donate them to those in need. For instance, Verizon gives old phones to victims of domestic violence through their HopeLine project.
TerraCycle has a free recycling program where you can collect your electronics and ship them directly to their facility. They accept cell phones, tablets, cables, headphones, and even ink cartridges.
If you don’t have a store near you that accepts e-waste, you can try Earth 911’s directory instead. Type in your zip code and the site will pull up a facility within 10 to 20 miles.
It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to recycling. RecycleNation makes it all way easier! Simply visit their site and type in what you’re trying to recycle. You’ll then get a generated list of nearby facilities!
This is another directory you can use to find a local recycling center. Call2Recycle is a particularly great source for recycling used batteries, and they even have drop-off locations at Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples stores across the United States.
You can’t just throw your old electronics in the curbside bin. Do a Google search for “recycling centers near me,” check one of the directories listed above, or take your old electronics to a store that offers e-waste recycling.
You can donate gently used electronics to any of the following non-profit organizations:
- Cell Phones for Soldiers
- World Computer Exchange
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- National Cristina Foundation
- Salvation Army
- Community Centers
There are 1.3 million people in the U.S. military. Cell Phones for Soldiers has made it their mission to provide active-duty members with cell phones they can use to stay in touch with their loved ones.
Students in developing areas struggle to have access to the computers they need to be successful. The World Computer Exchange collects refurbished computers and sends them to those in need.
Nearly 20 people per minute are abused by their partner in the United States. NCADV is doing whatever they can to help, including collecting gently used electronics. They then sell these gadgets in exchange for more funding.
Your used computer could go to an individual in need. Reach out to the National Cristina Foundation to donate your laptop to refugees, people with disabilities, and others who could use the technology boost.
With over 3,300 Goodwill stores in the United States, you can easily find a location near you! Drop off your gadgets, and other odds and ends, when you’re no longer using them.
The Salvation Army is similar to Goodwill. They will take items that you no longer want and sell them to someone else. This is a good way to give a second life to your devices.
Your local library could be looking for a donation of computers, tablets, or headphones. Call them directly and speak with someone in public relations to find out if they can use your gadgets.
Park districts and YMCA centers offer many free programs and services. They don’t make a ton of money, which is why they might have a need for your gently used electronics.
Funding has been hit hard for some schools, so every little thing you can do helps. Get in touch with your local district and see if they need e-readers, tablets, keyboards, or any other devices.
You can also reach out to a nearby charity or non-profit and ask if they are in need of electronics or appliances. Homeless centers, animal shelters, the Red Cross, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and more are always looking for donations!
You can trade your old electronics for cash at any of the following places:
- Disc Replay
- Half Price Books
- Next Worth
- Green Buy Back
- Planet Green Recycle
- Facebook Marketplace
- Garage Sale
Disc Replay is a secondhand electronics store that will give you cash or store credit in exchange for your video games, consoles, controllers, CDs, and movies. Find a location near you!
Don’t let the name fool you! Half Price Books sells not only gently used novels, textbooks, and comics, but also games and movies. Visit any of the 127 stores across the United States.
Find out the value of your devices, and Next Worth will give you cash. You also get the peace of mind knowing the site is recommended by The Wall Street Journal and Money Magazine.
Check out Green Buy Back if you have a smart watch, game console, or camera you no longer want. This website will give you a free quote and send you money in exchange for your gadgets.
Planet Green Recycle has a handy chart on their website that shows just how much you’ll earn in exchange for specific models and brands. You can sell your phone, laptop, and a ton of other electronics.
Do you have an old cell phone or iPod? Get an offer from Gazelle and ship it to their site for free. In exchange, you’ll get an Amazon gift card, PayPal credit, or a check.
Take a quiz on the Glyde website to see how much your cell phone is worth. From there, trade it in and receive cash or money through PayPal.
Download the OfferUp app on your phone, and you can post pictures of any gadget you no longer want. People in your area will then reach out to make offers. Be sure to meet in a public place for everyone’s safety!
Facebook Marketplace is designed for people who use the social media platform frequently. It’s not only a good way to sell old tech devices, but also to score amazing deals.
If all else fails, you can hold a garage sale right at home. Sell old tech devices and appliances, as well as other items like clothes you don’t wear and toys your kids no longer use.
Here are some ways you can repurpose old tech devices:
These are just a few ideas of how you can upcycle your old devices and appliances. Go to a craft store, get a ton of supplies, and be creative! It’s much better for the planet to repurpose your gadgets into something new.
Why Should I Recycle Electronics?
The process for finding e-waste solutions has never been easier! After all, technology has put a world of information at our fingertips.
The United States produces more e-waste than any other country, which is why you should recycle your electronics. It’s important that we all do our part in protecting the planet!
The Bottom Line
People are always looking for gizmos and gadgets, even if they’re gently used. There’s no reason why you should be throwing electronics into the garbage! Donate them, turn them into cash, or find a repurposing project. Your last resort should be bringing your gadgets to a recycling facility near you.
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