Wannabe wired: e-waste

Do you have a drawer full of old cellphones? A closet stacked with ancient PCs? A box of wires, accessories and batteries with no home? It can be tempting to hoard old electronics because of their perceived value. But for those of us that decide to part with our out-of-date devices, the question then becomes, how?

You might be tempted to just toss your old electronics into the trash and be done with them. But that isn’t the way to go. Not only do most of the plastics in these devices never degrade, but they often contain toxic e-waste which is harmful to the environment, animals and people.

So, exactly what can you do with it?

Well, the absolute first thing you want to do is to make sure you back up and remove any and all personal data from those devices before you get rid of them. Your old Iphone 4 might have been lying abandoned in a junk drawer for the last 6 years, but it still has all of your personal information on it. So charge up those old devices, back up anything you need and initiate a complete factory reset to make sure you clear all of the data.

Once your devices are clean, one of the simplest methods to get rid of them is through donation. Stores like Lowes, Best Buy and Home depot have cellphone refurbishing programs. And Microsoft will often accept old laptops and desktops to refurbish. If you prefer to keep your donations local, you could always ask around with local charities to see if they are in need.

Of course, there is always the option of selling off old electronics. I have personally used the decluttr app. Decluttr accepts many outdated electronics and it is a very simple process. You simply download the app, use the barcode scanner to scan in whatever you are planning on selling. The app will give you a price and total your amount. Once you are done you follow a few simple steps to print out a postage-free label and mail off the box. You can usually expect payment with a few weeks.

Straight recycling can sometimes be an option. Some recycling plants take in e-waste, though it’s always best to call and check ahead of time before loading it into a car and driving it there.

Many of the same stores and companies that accept old phones and laptops will accept chargers, wires, accessories, TVs and video game consoles as well. Though, again, you could also donate many of these items to local charities, churches or schools.

Dead batteries are some of the most common e-waste to be improperly disposed of. Single-use batteries from AAA to the massive D-cells litter landfills around the country. Again, many stores such as Home depot and Staples have battery drop-off locations. Instead of tossing them into the trash when they die, or more likely dropping them in a junk drawer, toss them into a can and then take the can to recycling when it’s full.

I know it can be tempting to hang on to those old electronics, but sometimes it’s best to let these things go. You might be sitting on a gold mine. Or better yet, you might have useful devices that could be repurposed by local charities.

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