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  • Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

6 Tips to Help You Recycle, Donate, or Re-purpose, Your Outdated Tech Devices



In today’s digital world, your brand-new device is practically obsolete before you finish removing it from the box. This practice of "planned obsolescence" is bad for both consumers and the environment. You can't just toss electronics in the trash. If tech devices aren't disposed of properly, toxins from their waste enter our soil and water supplies which can have adverse affects on our health. No one wants to hold on to all of their devices, but if you're struggling with letting go of your old tech, these tips should help.

People discard electronics at the drop of a hat and it's understandable. The economics of technology and gadgets encourages disposal of technology as opposed to repairing the broken device. Have you purchased ink for your printer lately? in many cases buying a new ink jet printer is cheaper than buying a set of new ink cartridges. The same goes for certain brands of smartphone and tablets. Why spend $200 to fix a $100 device. Unfortunately, planned obsolescence has broader and more serious consequences than many of us think about. Simply put, sending our old electronics to the landfill is not good for the environment. So what should you do to make sure you recycle your technology responsibly?

1. Backup your data. Before erasing anything, be sure to back up your data. This may seem obvious or you may think there's nothing you need saved on your old device, but it's better to be safe than sorry. There are plenty of options for backing up information, including external hard drives, flash drives and cloud backup services such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud Drive, so select a method that works for you. Many of your devices are automatically backing up your data, if not, now is a good time to turn that feature on.

2. Wipe Your Devices. Taking the basic steps deleting data from or reformatting a computer hard drive, or doing a factory reset on a gaming system, smart phone or tablet should be enough to keep most people seeing the data that was on your devices, but it it isn't fool proof. If you’re still concerned, consider physically destroying your device to erase data from your smart devices and computers. For computers, remove the hard drives from your computers and take a hammer to them to destroy the data. For smartphones and tablets, remove your phone’s SIM card and cut it in half to destroy the data. With any of your electronic devices, if you’d rather not deal with the erasing process on your own, seek out a technology professional like me and Integral.

3. Most Tech Companies Now Have Recycling Programs. Most large tech companies have their own recycling programs, which are free and easy to use for recycling your tech or trading it in.

  • Best Buy Recycle: Best Buy will recycle just about any tech product, ranging from TVs and computer monitors to DVD players and video cables.

  • Apple Recycling Program: You can send your old Apple products back to the company for proper recycling. If they have any monetary value, Apple will apply it toward a gift card.

  • Dell Mail-Back Recycling Program: Dell's mail-back program partners with FedEx so you can responsibly recycle your unwanted computer equipment.

  • Nintendo Product Recycling: Because game systems aren't recycled very often, Nintendo tries to minimize waste with a free take-back program, and either refurbishes systems or recycles parts for new products.

  • HP Global Citizenship: HP allows you to trade in any product from any brand, recycle ink supplies and more.

  • Sony EcoTrade: Sony accepts both Sony and non-Sony products (as long as they're eligible) and lets you trade them in for credit toward your next Sony purchases.

4. Donate Your Devices to Non-Profits and Refurbishing Programs. It's great to recycle, but sometimes your old and unwanted gadgets can be useful to someone else. These non-profits and programs work to refurbish and deliver cellphones and other electronics to those in need.

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Resources: The EPA's website is a great resource for anyone looking to recycle his or her gadgets, citing reasons to recycle, what to do before you donate and where to drop off your electronics.

  • Cell Phones for Soldiers: Non-profit Cell Phones for Soldiers provides U.S. troops with a cost-free way to call home from their active stations. Your donated cellphone will be traded in for calling cards and other communications devices.

  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: You can donate your unwanted cellphones to the NCADV, which partners with Cellular Recycler for the collection of used electronics and uses proceeds from refurbished gadgets to help stop domestic violence.

5. Sell or Trade In Your Gadgets. There are some programs that offer you money or replacements for your unwanted gadgets, making sure you don't waste any money.

  • Gazelle: Gazelle is a marketplace that pays you for the devices you no longer need, and also helps find new homes for them, ensuring little-to-no waste.

  • Glyde: You can buy and sell a variety of devices on Glyde, and also compares the different amounts you can get from other sites.

  • Amazon Trade-In Program: The Amazon Trade-In Program gives Amazon.com gift cards in exchange for eligible electronics (as well as DVDs, books and other items).

6. Repurpose Your Old Gadgets. You can always give some new life to your gadgets by reusing them in different ways. You can give that old smartphone or tablet to a younger child or a senior aging at home. Turn that old computer into a spare computer that is used only to do Internet searching, geneology or to stream show to your smart TV.

What do you do with your old devices? Leave me a comment in the comments section.


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