Recycle Bin: 5 Ways to Safely Discard Your Old Gadgets

Did you ever wonder what happened to that old TV you threw away? Like most other gadgets that are unsafely disposed of, it’s probably occupying a distant landfill somewhere in China or Africa, or perhaps even a dumping ground closer to home. Most of the gadgets that people throw out include lots of toxic chemicals -like lead, mercury and cadmium- which can be very harmful to us and out environment. At the rate the world produces e-waste (about 50 million tons each year), it’s important that we all try to dispose of our old gadgets responsibly.


Disposing Gadgets: Important Data Safety Considerations

Before you dispose of certain gadgets, like old computers and cellphones, you should wipe away all your personal data first. Just deleting the data from your recycle bin isn’t enough (the only removes the reference to the data, not the data itself). You should use software like Eraser that rewrites over your old data several times to make sure no one can access it again. If at all possible, just remove the storage – like SD cards and hard drives – before getting rid of your gadgets. If the person is unwilling to buy your gadgets without the storage, make sure he or she is trustworthy.

Now that we have the data safety considerations out of the way, here are 5 simple ways to safely discard your old gadgets:

Sell

The most profitable way to get rid of your old gadget is to sell it. The device doesn’t have to be in full working condition either – there are plenty of people out there looking for parts for their own devices, which your device might supply. The most common way people sell their old gadgets is by placing free ads in online classifieds like Craigslist and, of course, on eBay. Craigslist won’t do buyer and seller protection, but eBay does. Also, there are specialized services like Nextworth that may be interested in buying your gadget. You can get a free quote from Nextworth and, if they are interested, they will buy it from you. They cover the shipment costs too, so this is a pretty convenient option.

Reuse

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Restored old gadgets make for stunning center-pieces on your desk or at home.

Before disposing of your gadgets, ask yourself if they are still, in any way, useful. You paid good money for that gadget, so it makes sense to get as much out of it as you possibly can. Your old computer, for example, can be used for extra storage. You can even turn it into a server with free software (like NAS) from the internet.  Your old camera can be made into a standby for your new camera, just in case something happens to the new one. Your old tablet can be turned into a digital frame and mounted on the wall. You can even get your old gadgets restored, for retro value. There are many, many ways you can reuse your old gadgets – the only limit is your own creativity.

Trade-Ins

Nowadays, some manufacturers are willing to take your old gadgets off your hands and recompense you for it in some way. They usually won’t give you a lot for it, though. An old MacBook will get you a $50 discount on your new MacBook, which is laughable when you paid hundreds of dollars for the old one. Not all the offers are bad, though, but you’ll have to work hard to find the good ones. Amazon.com has a pretty good trade-in program going on: it will take your old gadgets off your hands and give you an amazon.com gift card that you can redeem at their store.

Donate

You don’t need your old gadgets, but there are plenty of people out there that do. Ask your friends and family if they could use some extra gadgets – you’ll be surprised at the response you get. You can also donate to local charities, schools, orphanages and non-profits. Just give them a call and ask them if they’re interested in a new-old computer.

Recycle

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Check your local safety norms to recycle responsibly.

If your old gadget(s) has to go, the safest, not to mention the most responsible, way to dispose of it is to recycle. Recycling reduces e-waste by a large amount, as large parts of your old gadget are utilized for new ones. Most e-waste contains respectable amounts of valuable minerals like gold, silver, copper and aluminum- all of which can be retrieved through recycling. Recycling e-waste has several advantages, like helping save the environment, conserving natural resources, saving space and creating jobs. There may be recycling programs in your area, which you could take advantage of. If you don’t know any, bestbuy.com will buy your gadgets from you and reuse and recycle them safely.

Conclusion

Disposing of your old gadgets safely and responsibly has become much easier these past few years, as more people become aware of the impact e-waste has on the environment. The goal is to use your old gadgets as much as possible and then either donate them or have them recycled to do your bit to preserve the environment.

 

 

 

Image credits: Grant Hutchinson via Flickr, Alexkerhead via FlickrTheen Moy via Flickr

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