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7 Things You Can Do to Recycle Old Electronic Devices

Tina Sieber 29-10-2013

We all have them in a drawer or on a shelf somewhere; outdated or broken electronic devices.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 Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More .

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 5 More Cool Things To Do With An Old Computer Don't chuck out your old computer, just yet. Though it may not seem like it, there are still some jobs it can serve. It's not obsolete just yet, whatever the tech companies would rather have... Read More could be turned into a web server, you could finally try Linux, or you could donate the computing power Can We Contribute To Space Exploration? These 7 Online Tools Say We Can What about the man on the sidewalk? The high-schooler in the science class? The mother who once dreamt of suiting up for a space flight? Will there dreams remain so, or can they contribute to... Read More of your outdated laptop What to Do With Old Computers: 10 Cool Uses for Used PCs and Laptops Read More to science. If your laptop no longer works, read my article on what to recycle and what to keep Disposing Of An Old Laptop - What To Recycle, What To Keep Laptops are a treasure trove of parts that can live more than one life. Whether they continue a life as spare part or become the subject of a DIY tech project, you can get a... Read More  before you dispose of it.


Even your last generation mobile phone or tablet still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Old Android devices 5 Alternative Uses For An Old & Out Of Date Android Phone If anyone were to craft a Toy Story homage based on smartphones, it would be a depressing tale. Smartphones are bought, loved, and then discarded – often all within two or three years. While these... Read More  make for a great audio player or portable gaming devices, you can turn any smartphone into 5 Interesting Uses for a Spare Old Smartphone Read More an alarm clock or Skype phone, or try one of these creative ideas for old mobiles 8 Creative Ideas To Recycle Your Mobile Phone Without Throwing It Out Recycle mobile phones. I wish that should be the catchphrase for all of us to live by. While researching this article, I came across quite a few official mobile industry websites of consumer rich countries... Read More . Your outdated iPad 5 Cool Things You Can Do With Your Old iPad After Upgrading It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the new iPad. The new display is a significant upgrade and, for people who use their tablets to view text frequently, well worth the price of admission.... Read More  — 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.

Skype Phone

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 3 Ways To Breathe New Life Into An Old Hard Drive It's in the human nature to collect stuff and in the digital age we mostly collect data. For a long time, the storage capacities of hard drives seemed to increase too slow to match user... Read More by using it as external drive or media center. Think your hard drive is dead How to Repair a Dead Hard Disk Drive to Recover Data If your hard disk drive has failed, this guide will help you with the hard disk drive's repair and data recovery. Read More ? Don’t trash it 5 Good Reasons To Save Your Old Hard Drive From The Trash Most of us have our data spread across several devices, storage media, or services. Storage capacities continue to expand at affordable prices, digital devices diversify, and as a result we are increasingly moving data to... Read More !

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 10 Great Geek Hacks: Repurpose Everyday Objects & Get The Most Out Of Your Electronics If you're looking for a way to get the most out of old everyday objects that have become obsolete, like cassette tapes and CD's, or want to put everyday objects like binder clips, bread clips... Read More , including your spare computer and its parts What Can I Do With My Spare Computer? We all know the mantra of efficient product usage: Reduce; Reuse; Recycle. When it comes to computers though, changing technology and the need for tech-minded people to upgrade makes it hard to reduce consumption. This... Read More . We even found creative upcycling ideas for your hard drive 3 Creative Upcycling Ideas For Your Old Hard Drive Care to get the most out of your old hard drive? Even if the drive is dead, there may be one more creative use left in it before submitting its remains for recycling. It is... Read More  and showed you how you can upcycle old motherboards Recycle Old Computer Motherboards As Placemats, Jewellery, Notebook Covers & More How do you dispose of your old computer hardware? Some people take their old PCs to the local landfill; others wipe the devices and donate them to schools or relatives. I prefer to make as... Read More .


Cat Bed In Old Monitor

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 Get Free Stuff, Give Away Your Junk & Save The Planet The Freecycle Way Freecycle is the world’s largest network of recyclers who, instead of throwing away, selling or otherwise disposing of their unwanted goods, give it away instead. It’s both an environmentally and pocket-friendly way of picking up... Read More !

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 5 Great Ways To Donate Your Old Computer Read More  to repair and turn them into working machines for schools. You can also donate your cell phone Recycle For A Cause: 5 Ways You Can Donate Your Old Cellphone & Help Make The World A Better Place We can help by donating our old cellphones (and other electronics), so that the recycling industry can reclaim some more percentage from the precious metals that gets mined. But that is not the only way... Read More  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.


Amazon Trade-In Store

Sell Your Old Gadgets

Your old Mac or iPhone Are You Selling An Old Mac Or iPhone? These Sites Will Snap It Up Have you ever tried to sell your used electronics on eBay? It is next to impossible. Sure, if it does sell you might make a pretty decent amount of money, but trying to make you... Read More  will be easy to sell. Whether you choose to put it on eBay or use one of the other sites that will re-sell your device Trade Your Old iPad For Money On These 5 Websites Every iPad enthusiast (and everyone in general) has heard of Apple’s new iPad. While some people feel the update is not significant enough, many are still planning to buy it. With its retina display and... Read More as a refurbished model.

sell electronic devices

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 5 Ways to Find Recycling Plant Locations in the US Recycling is always better than chucking it all in a landfill. Here's our look at Earth911 and several other recycling sites. Read More . Readers from the US, UK, and Australia can find further recycling resources here Help the Environment: Places Where You Can Donate Old Computers Electronic waste, or e-waste as it is more commonly known, is a huge problem facing both the developed and undeveloped world. Many old computer parts contain materials that are hazardous to the environment and burying... Read More .

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?

Related topics: Green Technology, Recycling.

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  1. Garry
    March 19, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    What about old computer cables, serial, parallel, video, audio, BNC, RJ45, RJ11?
    I literally have boxes/bags full of this stuff gathering dust in the loft. I was going to take most/ a lot of it to the skip. And I do mean a lot, some old and relatively unusual stuff from the 90s, mostly of casts from old jobs. Is there somewhere that would reuse cables like this?

    • Tina Sieber
      March 30, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      Good question, Garry. I guess if you don't have the time to go through your collection and sort it into different buckets (donate, sell, recycle, etc.), I'd just try to send it all to a recycling depot. Or maybe post on Craigslist and see whether anyone is interested. Cables contain metals (like copper), which are valuable.

  2. Daryl
    March 12, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Get rid of it recycle. I help people move for a side job and it's so annoying moving bulky old computer monitors and televisions. No one wants to buy them stop being a hoarder for the love of his and recycle them.

  3. harman
    November 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    You can also keep that old device for future or also for a great collection of old electronic device ...........or many thing that you can do with your old device.

  4. Dean
    October 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Best Buy does recycling for lots of stuff, I believe. You can get some gift cards for Best Buy, too. Really convenient if a store is nearby.

    • Tina S
      October 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Dean!