Staying up to date with the latest technology can leave you with a lot of older electronic devices that you no longer need. While these items might not be advanced enough to meet your ever-changing needs, you shouldn’t just throw them away.
“Electronic products are made from valuable and scarce resources such as rare metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture,” says Josh Cohen, founder and CEO of Junkluggers, which removes unwanted items, repurposes them through local charities, and takes unsalvageable items to recycling facilities. “The product creation process causes the release of greenhouse gases into the environment.” By reconsidering how you handle these items, Cohen says you’re reducing the amount of greenhouse emissions. “But that’s not all, you’re also conserving our limited natural resources, as well as reducing the environmental impact associated with mining and processing new materials.”
Not sure what to do with your out-of-date technology? Here are three primary things that you can do with old electronics (instead of throwing them away).
The first option can actually help you recoup some of your money. “Electronics, including smartphones and watches, tablets, video game consoles, et cetera, are relatively easy to offload on local marketplaces, such as Craigslist and 5miles,” according to Luis Perez, founder and CEO of Remoov, which helps organize and dispose of unwanted items. “You’re likely to find buyers who are more than willing to buy a previous version of a device.”
So, how do you determine the right selling price? “Amazon, eBay, or a simple Google search can point you in the right direction to easily find the market value of pretty much any electronic device,” Perez explains.
“Also worth noting is to search for companies that will recycle electronics for you, including chain stores like BestBuy and Staples that may offer trade-ins for certain electronics that are good condition,” he says.
And there are even more options. “Ppeer-to-peer marketplaces are another way to recycle (and save on) school supplies, considering that parents, students and teachers (K-12 and up) can find deals on good-as-new electronics they otherwise may not elsewhere,” according to Perez.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of selling your unwanted items, consider donating them. “You can call eco-friendly junk removal services, like Junkluggers, who will donate items in good working condition to local non-profit organizations, then deliver the rest to a DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) registered business specializing in properly dismantling used electronics,” Cohen explains.
You can also donate your electronics to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, according to Perez. “You may be able to get a tax write-off by donating to these two nonprofits or to charity shops in your community or online.” For example, Perez says 5miles connects those in need with those who have stuff to give away via the site’s Free & Donations and Wanted channels. “Following a natural disaster is also when the need for unwanted items becomes greater,” he explains.
In addition to selling or donating your electronic devices, there’s a third option. “The best thing to do with your old electronics is to bring them to e-waste facilities that properly dispose of and recycle the component parts according to strict EPA regulations,” Cohen recommends. “Use websites like E-cycling Central to find reuse, recycling and donation programs in your area.” The site is simple to use. You type in your state, and the results are sorted by city and zip code – and the available programs are also categorized as private, national program, non-profit, municipal, et cetera.
One final note: before parting with an electronic device, always remember to wipe all personal information from the device and remove memory and SIM cards from your phones.
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.