4 Ways to Recycle Electronics

by Adria Saracino

With Moore’s law in full swing, it seems like every day brings  the release of new technology. This is great for those of us who love to play  with the  latest gadgets, but it also means that e-waste is increasing at an exponential rate as we toss old technology into the dump.

This can lead to a variety of health and environmental concerns, as nasty  chemicals like lead, cadmium, mercury, brominated flame retardants and  hexavalentchromium compounds leak into the ground and water supply. There are a  number of  ways to avoid such a fate, as long as we think strategically about  what  to do with our old devices before we chuck them into the bin.

Re-Sells and Buy Backs

If you’re going to splurge on a new device, why not recoup some of the costs  of the old one? Re-sell options are available on a number of sites, including Amazon and eBay. Just write a description of the device, upload good  photos and let the bidding and buying begin.

Buy back and trade-in programs won’t be as profitable as selling items  directly, but they’re also a good option for people who don’t have the time or  desire to track sales, answer potential buyer questions and monitor bids. eBay Instant, Gazelle, Nextworth, BuyMyTronics and Trade2Save are just a few companies that will take your used  laptops, digital cameras and other digital devices. They’ll handle  the entire sales process, meaning upfront cash for you and less worry.

Donate Your Technology

While your technology might be too outdated or slow for your purposes, there  are plenty of people both abroad and at home who can use what you no  longer  need. Donate  your cell phone to a non-profit like Hope Phones, which gives phones to public health  professionals in developing countries, or Cell Phones for Soldiers, which enables returning soldiers  to stay in touch with family and friends as they readjust to life at home.

Similarly, local schools are always in need of computers, as are libraries  and other public departments. Contact potential recipients ahead of time to  ensure what you have meets their needs, or search through recipient databases  for your region at eCycling Central or uSell.

If you can’t find any takers, sell instead to a refurbisher, who will salvage useful bits  for new devices. And, of course, make sure  to wipe any stored data, either with  professional help or with disk cleaning software.


Recycling can also be a good option, but make sure you research companies  first, as many say they’re recycling when they’re really shipping e-waste overseas to the detriment of local people. There are a number of fantastic websites out there to help you sort through the  mass, including this comprehensive ratings list from the environmental site,  e-Stewards.

Get Crafty

Give outdated technology new life by getting creative and crafty. Take, for  instance, this  clock made from hard drive platters and floppy disks, or this one made from a computer circuit board. Get inventive,  but make sure to  avoid batteries and screens, as they may contain cadmium, lead  and  mercury.

There  are many different ways you can handle old technology, just as long as  you think outside of the trash can. So choose your route, do your  research, and  do a little kindness to the earth as you upgrade to that  super cool new  gadget.