Here's What to Do with Your Old Electronics
August 12, 2019 by Burnzie Welles
If you’re in the market for new electronics like cellphones, laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, or audio equipment, chances are you’re replacing something that’s now sitting at home collecting dust. Unless you like the idea of old electronics piling up in your garage, you’ve got to do something with those used gadgets.
But despite the fact that nearly 45 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2016, many people still don’t know exactly what to do with old electronics. In fact, the United Nations estimated that only 20% of that e-waste in 2016 was recycled. That contributes to an already growing global waste problem, as well as economic inefficiencies as precious materials that make up our devices – like gold and platinum – go to waste.
So, are you scratching your head over what to do with old electronics? We’ll go over three options below.
What to Do with Old Electronics
1. Recycle It
Many electronic devices, like smartphones and laptops, contain precious metals and other high-value materials that can be reused in new devices if recycled properly. The problem is that it’s not quite as easy as throwing it in a special bin like you do your used milk cartons. Luckily, there are lots of organizations dedicated to collecting and recycling electronic waste.
Consumer Reports provides some great options for electronics recycling programs you can contact.
2. Donate It
If your device is still in working condition, you may want to consider donating it to a good cause. While traditional organizations like Goodwill or Salvation Army can be hit-or-miss, there are several organizations that specifically take e-waste donations and provide them to low-income households, veterans, those with disabilities, and more.
Before donating electronic devices for future use, always make sure to wipe any data to prevent identity theft. (More on that below.) It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask about the types of devices and quality your desired organization accepts, as well as any other guidelines you should be aware of.
3. Sell It
You may be able to make a few bucks on devices that are still in decent condition. While this option does take some effort, including researching the best places to sell old electronics, it can be well worth it. Of course, as with recycling or donating electronic devices, it’s extremely important to destroy any personal data from phones, laptops, tablets, or gaming consoles before putting your device in someone else’s hands.
Always Remove Personal Data First
As smart devices have become ubiquitous, so has the threat of data and identity theft. Even if you only plan to recycle your electronic devices rather than donating or selling them, it’s imperative that you wipe any personal data – including your phone number, contacts, photos, location data, and anything else that could identify you – before parting with your gadgets.
It’s not enough just to delete files. In fact, the safest way to remove data is to physically remove hard drives and memory cards. If you want to make sure your devices are still usable but wiped clean for future users, you’ll want to go through several steps to make sure no one can recover your data, including securely backing up what you do want to keep before removing or destroying anything permanently. You may also want to enlist the help of your cellphone or tablet provider to securely remove personal data.
Consumer Reports provides a helpful guide on how to wipe your devices clean before recycling, donating, or selling.
What about other items?
Whether you’re moving, doing a home makeover, or simply replacing an old device or appliance, the excitement of buying something shiny and new is often eclipsed by the stress of getting rid of the old thing. Luckily, when you buy a new appliance or mattress at Howard’s, we’ll haul off the old item for you, free of charge.