Why Toss Your old Electronics When you can Recycle Them?

Published On January 11, 2013 | Green Tech

Several decades ago, it was uncommon for every household to have a personal computer. Now, households have desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Devices like iPods, iPhones and iPads are as common as Walkman players once were, and they don’t seem to stick around long. Phone manufacturers release dozens of new models every year, while Apple typically revamps its products once a year. This means that consumers are going through electronics at amazing rates. While you have the opportunity to get bigger and better gadgets, you also have a responsibility to recycle your old electronics.

There are a few reasons why recycling electronics just makes sense. If you throw something out in the trash, the materials can’t be re-used, even if they’re in perfectly good shape. Elements such as gold, silver, palladium and copper that are used in devices like cell phones can be recycled into new components. Plus, electronics in landfills have materials that can seep into the ground and water. This pollution is bad for humans, animals and plants alike.

Recycling saves energy in ways that you might not expect. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that recycling one million laptops per year saves enough energy to power 3,500 homes. The benefits extend to the individual consumer as well. Stores like Best Buy and manufacturers such as Motorola offer buyback programs. The same is true for cell phone carriers such as Sprint. Recycling your phone means a little more money in your pocket and helps ease the pain of buying that new phone you’ve had your eye on.

Selling your electronic device on eBay or Craigslist is a great option if your device still works. You can also bundle your old gadgets with cables and accessories so you won’t have to dispose of them either.

Third-party companies are more than happy to take old devices off your hands, even if they no longer work. Mail-in programs are some of the easiest to participate in, and if your gadget is old enough that you won’t get any money back, you can find drop boxes for cartridges, batteries and even cameras in many big box retailers and electronics stores.

Image via Flickr, by segearhart

Image via Flickr, by segearhart

Donating is also a great option. Cell Phones for Soldiers will accept your old phones and give them to United States service members and veterans. SecondWave Recycling offers a similar program.

When it comes to recycling electronics, there’s a whole range to consider. It’s not just phones and computers. Printers, ink cartridges, batteries and other items fall into the category of electronics that you can — and may be required to — recycle rather than tossing them in the garbage and sending them off to the landfill. When you’re recycling your laptops and other devices with removable items, you should remove the batteries, which might require separate recycling procedures than the device itself.

Before you toss out that old machine, consider upgrading it. Adding memory, hard drive space or inserting a new SD card can mean new life for your device and will save you the hassle of moving data or files to a different electronic item. Recycling your electronics can be good for the planet, other people and your wallet.

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