As consumers, we’re always looking to upgrade our devices. But what do you do with your old technology?

Many times we stash old equipment away in a drawer just in case, thinking we might save it as a backup or it might have value later on. The honest truth is if you’re not using it, it’s time to find it a new home. Just because devices aren’t new to us doesn’t mean they can’t be useful to someone else. Rather than sending unused devices to a landfill as electronic waste, or eWaste, do some research to figure out if others could benefit from them.

Donate Your Old Devices
Working devices that might not be the most current model on the market can provide schools, community organizations, and other nonprofits with much-needed equipment their budgets don’t always allow for. Teachers love using tablets in the classroom because they provide interactive learning via apps; additional laptops are always beneficial for word processing and doing Internet research. Schools might also want your used equipment for after-school programs. The best way to find out if your local school is accepting used equipment is by calling the main office. Some school systems also refurbish old cell phones so bus drivers don’t have to rely on their personal devices in case of an emergency.

Other organizations in need of digital devices, televisions, and other components from your entertainment system include local Scout groups, churches, community organizations, and nonprofits. If you regularly volunteer, ask your contacts at local nonprofits or organizations if they might benefit from a device donation. You can even ask your neighbors! Chances are someone knows an organization that would gladly accept your used equipment. Just be sure to factory reset any of your devices before handing them off!

Auction Off Old Devices
While working devices can be given another life elsewhere, nonworking devices shouldn’t just be thrown away. Check online auction sites to see if there is a market for your used laptop or mobile phone. Many times discontinued, nonworking models are coveted for their parts. Savvy DIYers use them to fix their own machines for a little bit of money, rather than a huge outlay of cash. Those on the hunt for a particular brand and model of device set up alerts that let them know when what they’re looking for is being offered for sale. You won’t subsidize the purchase of your new device with the money you earn from selling a nonworking one through an auction, but you’ll get more for it than you would if you simply recycled it.

Consider Recycling
If your device isn’t sought after for parts, recycle it. Many community waste management programs accept electronics as part of their recycling program. Commonly accepted items include computers and their accessories, televisions, VCRs, printers, toner and ink cartridges, printer drums, fax machines, scanners, digital cameras and memory cards, tablets, radios, stereos, tape players, gaming consoles, power and network cables, controllers, modems, and rechargeable battery units.

Your electronics may go to an electronics recycling facility or local or international groups with nonprofit status. They could be destroyed, refurbished for use, or metals and plastics could be stripped from the items and sold. While some waste management facilities require their contractors to destroy the memory of digital devices, it’s always best to use a data-wiping tool to erase any personal data from your electronics before recycling them.

Wipe Data from Devices
Factory resetting your device works to remove any personal data, and data-wiping tools are often available online for free. These will work to clear your Internet browser’s cache of cookies and history, email contacts and messages, documents, items in your recycle or trash folder, passwords to cloud-based services or websites, and any nontransferable software.

In today’s digital age, our electronics and devices keep us connected to the people and things we care about most. Passing along used working devices to organizations makes us feel good about our purchases and the ability to help others, while well-organized recycling programs help keep nonworking items out of our country’s landfills.

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Leticia Barr

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Leticia Barr

Leticia is the founder of the award winning Tech Savvy Mama, a site that assists parents in navigating the ever-changing world of technology. She uses her experience as a former teacher and technology specialist for a large DC Metro area school system to share new technology and educational resources, including her passion for hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. Through her blog, Leticia also encourages parents to unplug and to seize teachable moments by creating conversations with kids at all ages and stages.

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