When you organize and declutter your home in the spring, you can come across any old or unused electronics. Before throwing any unwanted gadgets, you may want to consider recycling or donating them.
Recycling or finding new homes for old electronics is not just an environmentally conscious alternative. Throwing them in the trash can be illegal in your state, says consumer reports. So what do you do with old electronics? Here are some options to consider.
Electronics Recycling Tips
Electronics consist of metals (some of which are toxic), plastic and glass, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mining and manufacturing of these materials use energy, but recycled electronics can provide an alternative source for these necessary natural resources and valuable materials. For example, EPA says that recycling of one million laptops saves the amount of energy that corresponds to the electricity used in 3,500 homes over a year.
Many electronics manufacturers and retailers have set up programs for the recovery of old, broken technology, EPA notes. You can also recycle through local NGOs or a local city or city, says Consumer Reports. Contact your municipality to see if there is a nearby drop-off center or an upcoming electronics recycling event. Through these programs, you may be able to return items such as computers, printers and cartridges, telephones, televisions and rechargeable batteries at the shut-off site or post.
Consider donation of electronics
Another way to recover the electronics is to send them to those who can continue to use them. If your electronics are old but still working, donation can be a good waste option for you. Consumer Reports says many non-profit groups accept donated electronics ̵
Prepare articles for recycling or donation
Although it is good to manage your electronics properly or give them new life through another owner, it is important that you protect any sensitive information you may have stored on the devices. Before sharing with the old computer, be sure to wipe the hard drive to prevent your personal data, including financial information, from ending in the hands of others, says the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Also, be sure to remove the memory and SIM card from your mobile phone and make a factory reset (sometimes called a master reset) before donating it. EPA also notes that you should remove batteries from electronics, as they may need to be recycled separately from the unit.
Recycle cables, wires and chargers
Once you've decided what to do with your old electronics, it's also a good time to clean up your wires. If you have a box or a box full of cables, cords, and chargers, sort it through to see who you still need and put aside those you don't. (If they belong to a unit you donate, you keep them together.) Here are some environmentally friendly options for disposal of all threads.
Offering Wires to Friends and Family
One of the easiest ways to manage some of these wires and cables is to ask someone else you know needs them. As the family handyman notes, you can have a friend or family member still using a device that you have upgraded – they may use the computer cables you no longer need or would like to have an extra phone charger at hand.
Recycle Unneeded or Broken Accessories
Many cables, cables and wires contain metals that can be recycled. According to Family Handyman, you can reuse them on a metal recycling facility. (If they contain copper, you can even sell them to salvage.) Retailers who accept electronics for recycling often take wires, chargers and wires, CNET says. If you bring goods to a recycling center, ask about cords and cables can also be released.
Donate to Community Organizations
These old cords can actually help kids learn about technology. Many schools and non-profit organizations now offer STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that can use all the cables you have collected, says The Family Handyman. Although the cables seem older to you, they may be good for a class or scouting project. Contact your local schools or youth organizations to see if they can use them well.
Organize What You Keep
After recycling the cables you do not use, HGTV offers some ideas for organizing the ones you still need.
- Label tape near their base so you know which device they belong to. You can use a marker, label maker or tape.
- Use a box to store cables that you do not use frequently. Bundle and label them before storing the box.
- Used ties, eyelashes or cable covers can help keep the cords securely in place and together.
When you start spring cleaning, don't forget to add cleaning of older electronics and accessories to your list. By recycling or donating the unused items, you can reduce your debris in an environmentally friendly way that can also benefit someone else.
Originally published March 19, 2015.