7 Things You Can Do to Recycle Old Electronic Devices
We all have them in a drawer or on a shelf somewhere; outdated or broken electronic devices. Are they even good for anything now? Surprisingly, they can be quite valuable!
As we enter the holiday season, we are launching into a whole new cycle of buying new gadgets and trashing old ones. Consumption is picking up momentum, but can we afford it? Not too long ago, I wrote a lengthy article about consumer electronics and the consequences of our consumption – electronic waste .
Electronics make for particularly bad waste. Not only could toxic substances leak into the environment, and poison the soil as well as our drinking water; electronic devices also contain rare and precious materials. Extracting those materials already took a toll on the environment. Modern technology, however, allows us to recycle electronic waste and reuse many of its components to produce new devices. That’s if you want to go that far.
What To Do With Old Electronic Devices
At the end of its life, you can choose between a number of destinies for your old electronic device. Trashing it and thereby sending it to the landfill or incinerator is the worst choice you can possibly make. You can responsibly dispose of old electronics in many sensible ways, unless you decide to reuse or up-cycle the device for yourself, of course.
Reuse Old Devices Or Their Parts
You would be surprised in how many different ways you can repurpose and find a new task for your old electronics. This does take a bit of time and creativity, although we can help with the latter. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Your old computer could be turned into a web server, you could finally try Linux, or you could donate the computing power of your outdated laptop to science. If your laptop no longer works, read my article on what to recycle and what to keep before you dispose of it.
Even your last generation mobile phone or tablet still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Old Android devices make for a great audio player or portable gaming devices, you can turn any smartphone into an alarm clock or Skype phone, or try one of these creative ideas for old mobiles . Your outdated iPad — or any other tablet for that matter — could be turned into a digital photo frame. And these are just some of the possibilities; we have covered many more in the hyperlinked articles.
If you can’t or don’t want to reuse the entire device, don’t forget about its parts! For example, you can breathe new life into your old hard drive by using it as external drive or media center. Think your hard drive is dead ? Don’t trash it !
Upcycle Electronic Devices
Upcycling is the process of turning an object into something else, for example using a leaky bucket as a stool. We have previously shown you how you can repurpose everyday objects , including your spare computer and its parts . We even found creative upcycling ideas for your hard drive and showed you how you can upcycle old motherboards .
Gift Old Devices To A Friend Or A Random Stranger
Ask your family and friends whether they need your outdated devices or post them on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle where someone else may find them useful. Not only can you easily relieve yourself of your old junk, you can also get free stuff !
Donate To Charity
The noblest way to dispose of your old stuff is to donate it to a good cause. This not only works for furniture and clothes, but also for electronics. Many places collect old computers to repair and turn them into working machines for schools. You can also donate your cell phone and help others in need.
Trade Old Electronics For Gift Cards
Last year, Amazon added electronics to its Trade-in Store, meaning you can send them your used electronics and receive Amazon gift cards in return.
Sell Your Old Gadgets
In the US, you can recycle small electronics using USPS’s Return for Good program and MaxBack.
Recycle Broken Electronic Devices & Computer Parts
Finally, if all other options have been exhausted, make sure your old gadget gets recycled properly. Many cities offer recycling stations and in some countries stores have to take back electronic waste and recycle it.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has thorough information on electronic donation and recycling and Earth911 can help you find recycling plant locations . Readers from the US, UK, and Australia can find further recycling resources here .
Keep The Cycle Going
Generally, any electronic device or its parts can be reused, upcycled, gifted, donated, traded, sold, or recycled. Ideally, all devices will go through every single one of these stages before being re-born as a completely new gadget and starting the cycle all over again.
How many old electronics are lingering on your shelves and has this article given you ideas for some of them?