Electronics have made our lives both simpler and more exciting. If you are like most people, you have a bunch. How could you live without your cellphone, laptop and game player?
Chances are, like most people, you have a few that are broken or have been neglected so long that you can’t remember if they work or not. You hate to toss them in the trash because you are know that they contain some toxins like arsenic or mercury. It’s time to clean out that back closet, so what are you going to do with them?
Donate them. Do an internet search for a local agency that actually wants your broken computer. Some schools will take them for their classes. If you can’t find somewhere local, look for the National Christina Foundation online. They work with the disadvantaged and disabled, teaching them marketable skills like computer repair.
Recycle them. Many retail stores that sell a lot of electronic gadgets also have some sort of electronics recycling policy. Staples, for instance, will take most electronics or electronic component parts although they charge for taking the old, heavy cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors and TVs.
Most places will charge something for CRTs since it takes special equipment to recover their heavy metals. If you can’t find a place that will take them for free, make the sacrifice and pay the fee for old-style computers recycling; the average CRT contains over 2 pounds of toxic lead.
Some companies are also specialized in the recycling of computer.
Sell them. If you have some old device electronics that do still work, try putting them up on e-bay. They’re not old – they’re classic. Have you ever seen what video games from the 80s sell for on sell-or-pawn reality shows?
Trade them. Some retailers will take old, even broken, devices and give you some trade credit for a new device. Apple retail stores, for example, will give you a 10% discount on a new device if you bring in an old one. Even if the old one is broken, they will recycle it for you and still give you the discount.
Keep using them. Some devices are so versatile that if they can’t perform all of their functions they are still useful for others. A cell phone that won’t work with your new phone company can still take great pictures and maybe access the internet. You can give it to a child as a safety precaution since all working cell phones can still be used to call 911 whether they are associated with a phone service or not.
It takes a little effort and imagination to recycle electronics. However, disposing of them properly is rewarding both for you and the planet.