We live in a rapid technology cycle. If you don’t have the latest iPhone or fastest computer are you really living? This wouldn’t be a problem if this mindset didn’t quickly turn vital hardware into worthless trash. Your old gadgets can get left in the dust by each new tech craze. Trashed tech is quickly becoming a major environmental issue. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing at an alarming rate. It adds harmful chemicals to our air, water, and land. Not to mention, this buy buy buy mindset increases waste across the board. There’s waste in landfills, wasted money in your bank statements, and a waste of your old tech’s potential. You don’t have to have your old phones bronzed and put on your mantle. But it’s important to consider their potential value and possible use before you toss them.
We don’t live in a perfect world. If we did technology would be built to last. Everything would work indefinitely. Honestly, it seems like some technology is built to break down. Built-in obsolescence is a business strategy to keep customers in a continued cycle of upgrading. This doesn’t even factor in strange manufacturing choices like pairing high-powered devices with flimsy paper thin screens that break with ease. Everyone has heard at least one story of someone dropping their phone and cracking the screen as they leave the store.
Shotty chargers, fragile headphones and discontinued support can all contribute to the growing amount of e-waste. Add to that spontaneous purchases and fickle fads and you have a veritable cemetery of discontinued tech in your garage. And if you do keep that old phone or computer it can just contribute to clutter. So what do you do? There are a few options to retain the value of your used devices, and turn your tech trash into someone else’s treasure. Or you can even find a way to recoup some of the cash you put into your purchase. Here’s a list of valuable ways to help your community, the environment and even your bank account.
Maybe you love to stay, not just the cutting edge, but the bleeding edge of technology. You wait in line for upgrades and read the trades for updates on developing technology. That’s great. But before you toss that outdated phone, laptop or tablet you may consider cycling it through your family. Sure, tech-savvy children might not be thrilled with hand-me-downs. But this is a way to save money with family bills and peace of mind with wear and tear. After all, younger family members are less likely to take impeccable care of their devices.
You can also transition old devices to your work or business. This can cut costs and streamline your life since you already know how to use the device. It also can add a potential upgrade to your organization.
Just because you have lost interest in your device doesn’t mean it has lost its market value. Consider re-selling your device on the open market. You can sell it through popular auction sites like ebay or tech-reselling companies like SellCell or Gazelle. You could also sell it in your local community with apps like OfferUp and letgo. With all the economic stress and uncertainty, who wouldn’t mind a few extra bucks.
You can trade-in your devices to get discounts off your next purchase. Many cell-phone carriers and tech companies like HP will allow you to trade-in your older device towards a new one. This is a great strategy if you are prone to frequent upgrades. But be sure to check the going market value. It may be worth taking the time to resell the device yourself rather than take the trade-in value which may be lower. After all, you already own it to best make the most out of it.
Cell phones and computers have become necessities. You may have a television, laptop, phone, and tablet some people may not even have one. Many people in this country, and the world, are barely able to afford one of these devices. There are needy people in homeless shelters, safe houses, and community programs that can benefit for your tech. There are also refugees and families in battered women shelters who can benefit from your tech.
Also, while something may be obsolete stateside other countries may be a generation or two behind. Your old devices could help someone less fortunate in a foreign country upgrade their entire lives.
Besides larger charities and world programs you can donate your devices to help your community. You can contact local schools, recreation centers, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, and even senior citizen living facilities. Your old technology can help give someone a chance to do school work, learn a new skill or even start a business.
Here’s a list of specific charities to consider:
Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts all types of cell phones from any carrier and provides them to soldiers to be able to contact their families while overseas.
The Wounded Warrior Project accepts old laptops, office supplies and old exercise equipment and provides it to veterans and soldiers.
World Computer Exchange accepts all kinds of electronic equipment including computers, phones, chords, thumb drives, scanners, and even graphing calculators. They provide this technology to people in third world countries.
Close the Gap accepts computers, laptops, tablets and more to help bridge the gap in developing nations.
The International Rescue Committee takes donations of old technology for the refugees they serve.
Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT) collects old technology like phones and computer that students use to learn how to refurbish and repair these devices. StRUT has offices in California, Arizona, Georgia, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Washington.
Not every piece of old technology is a diamond in the rough. But that doesn’t mean it should find its way to a landfill. Proper recycling of technology is vital for the future of our environment. e-Stewards is an organization committed to disposing of e-waste recycling and refurbishment. They can direct you to local recycling centers and the best practices for recycling your equipment. Best Buy allows you not just to trade in but will also help you recycle most items. Staples recycles ink toner cartridges for Staples cash and also accepts technology. Office Depot sells a tech recycling service box. You can fill it with electronics and they will inspect and recycle it for you.
These are just a few of the various ways you can get rid of your technology guilt-free. It can be easy to get sucked into the hamster wheel of keeping up with the latest tech trends. But that doesn’t mean you need to be left with a graveyard of forgotten devices, an empty wallet, or an abnormally large carbon footprint. Hopefully, you can find a new home for your old device complete with peace of mind.