Photo: Marko Cvetkovic/Shutterstock

How to: Recycle Your Gadgets

by Michelle Schusterman Oct 27, 2009
The problems posed by e-waste are widely understood, but the frustration of trying to figure out how to recycle electronics often causes people to toss their used gadgets in the trash.

Unlike newspapers and plastic bottles, there isn’t a green bin to hold your old cell phone or laptop out on the curb, waiting for a truck to carry them away. However, there are several quick and simple options for recycling or reusing electronics.

Choosing the right program for you depends on the type of gadget you have, its condition, and whether or not you want a financial bonus for your efforts at being green.

Get Cash for Used Gadgets

Unless your cell phone is completely trashed or from the forgotten time known as the 90’s, you might be able to score some cash for it. Of course, there’s always Ebay or Craigslist, but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with bids, there are a few other websites worth checking out.

Gazelle and BuyMyTronics are two great organizations that offer cash in exchange for electronics. Gazelle accepts a huge variety of toys, while BuyMyTronics focuses on iPhones and iPods, gaming consoles, and cell phones.

Just submit your gadget info on one of their sites to receive an instant price quote, ship it to the address, and you’ll receive a payment via PayPal (or a mailed check) within two days. It’s worth noting that, depending on the age and/or condition of your toy, you might receive a quote of $0.00.

Both Gazelle and BuyMyTronics will still accept and recycle the worthless gadget, and the warm fuzzies you get saving the world from brominated flame retardants will surely be worth more than a few dollars.

Take It Back

Many companies offer recycling programs for their products. Dell will recycle any of their products for free, and they’ll also recycle any computer at no additional cost with purchase of a new Dell.

Apple also offers free recycling with purchase of a new Mac, and offers a 10% discount on iPods when you bring an old one in to be recycled.

When you need to recycle, a quick check of the company’s website should be enough to see if they offer similar incentives.

Donate to Charity

Consider donating your gadget to charity if you feel like you’ve outgrown it. Someone else might find it useful. Be sure to wipe your hard drive before passing your computer (or any gadget) on to someone else.

Consider Recycling for Charities; an organization that accepts electronics through the mail, recycles them, and donates the profits to the charity of your choice. These donations are tax-deductible for you, making this option a win across the board.

If you have a PC or Mac still in good condition, the National Cristina Foundation might be able to use it in their program benefiting those with disabilities, students at risk, and the economically disadvantaged.

Donations may be submitted online, and are accepted at no cost outside of shipping.

Local Recycling Options

To find an electronic recycling business in your area, EcyclingCentral provides a handy map and detailed lists complete with addresses, phone numbers, and company websites.

Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection agency’s website for more help on finding the most convenient recycling option in your area.

Community Connection

To learn more about e-waste, read Julie Schwietert’s article, The Problem with E-Waste and take in the visual mass of e-waste in photographer Chris Jordan’s photo essay – Intolerable Beauty: Chris Jordan Photographs American Mass Consumption.

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