Managing E-Waste: What To Do With Your Old Gadgets

Photo Credit: Floyd Wilde

Photo Credit: Floyd Wilde

We’re in the trenches of gift giving season. Hanukkah began the evening of 11/27 and Christmas is only two weeks away. And geeks everywhere are dreaming of unwrapping a shiny new gadget. But that new shiny means your old shiny is being retired. But that leads us to the e-waste problem.

E-waste is the trash generated from our digital lifestyle. Old phones, tablets, computers, and what ever else you have that beeps and/or blinks. Because of the materials used, it’s particularly toxic as it breaks down. But fear not! Just because you have the newest thing doesn’t mean your old thing needs to end up in a landfill. Depending on the gadget you can sell, donate, or recycle it.

Before You Begin…

CLEAR YOUR DATA! For the love of all things 1’s and 0’s wipe that device. If it’s held some particularly sensitive data smash the hard drive before you get rid of it, because even after being cleared out there’s still recovery methods if someone wants it bad enough. Any computer I have ever had has had it’s hard drive smashed before I’ve disposed of it. Tablets/Phones (for me anyway) have been find with a simple data wipe. I just don’t keep sensitive data on there like I do a PC.

Sell

Most often, this is what I do with my old gadgets. I’ve been through quite a few since I basically tried ALL the phones. I’ve used Gazelle (affiliate link, #FeedABlogger), which was painless and simple. But if I’m going to sell to a company, I prefer to sell to Amazon. Let’s face it, money at Amazon is basically like getting cash anymore. Plus, they tend to pay a bit better and take more of your stuff (books, games, controllers, name it and amazon probably takes it). But if the gadget is worth a particularly good amount, I’ll use Glyde. You’re selling to another individual, with Glyde offering some sort of protection. You list your item, when it sells they send you a box, and they handle the money. I also have bought phones from Glyde and have had good experiences.

Of course there’s always craigslist and eBay. But really the hassle isn’t worth it to me. I just want the thing gone, I don’t want to deal with questions and meeting with people.

Donate

If you don’t want to sell your old gadget (or it’s not worth much) you can always donate it. Most places are looking for phones to help those who need them. Programs like Cell Phones for Soldiers get phones into the hands of those stationed overseas. The Julian Center here in Indianapolis gives domestic violence victims a phone in case they need help in an emergency. Secure the Call gets phones to seniors, police, and domestic violence victims. Organizations like these don’t care if a phone has the latest features, they care if a phone can get people the help they need when they need it.

Recycle

Recycling old gadgets is always a last ditch effort for me. There are too many stories of abuse within the system. Stories of kids in third world countries burning the devices with no concern to safety. I know not all places are like this, but I always wonder where these gadgets end up at the end of the line. I’m sure there are companies that do so responsibly, but without a detailed description of where these things go I’m just not comfortable with it. If you do want to recycle your phone, Mother Jones has done some research into the better companies to do it through, although the article is a bit dated. If you’re looking for a place to recycle near you, earth911.com provides a searchable list.

With all the options out there, give your old gadget a chance at a second life. I’m sure I’ve missed some of your favorite places to send old gadgets, let me know what they are.

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