Electronic technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate, and the number of gadgets that are consequently considered old and obsolete is rapidly growing as well. It is estimated that the vast majority of these discarded items will end up gathering dust in closets, attics, and garages. All this waste has the potential to be a hazardous waste time bomb if not properly disposed of. Even though there have been some positive changes in recent years, a significant portion of the e-(electronic) waste generated in this country is still shipped overseas to developing countries with little or no environmental regulations.
Finding a responsible, eco-friendly way to deal with unwanted electronic gadgets can sometimes be a frustrating endeavor. Depending on where you live, there might not be any convenient options available, other than to put it in storage for future reference. The following tips and advice will hopefully offer you a better way to deal with your e-waste.
Cash For E-Trash
Selling your unwanted electronics on eBay or Craigslist are good options, but be sure to take precautions against online scammers, and always meet the prospective Craigslist buyer at a well-lit, public place. It’s always surprising what people will pay for certain types of used equipment. Generally, newer items like smartphones sell very well, because of the thriving “fix & flip” market overseas, but even old computer parts like CPU towers from the 1980s/’90s are in demand, due to the number of precious metals present.
Charity is a Virtue
Sometimes donating, or just giving away your old gadget is a great way to help someone less fortunate, while at the same time keeping the item out of the waste stream. The tax deduction you are allowed to take is an added bonus. Before going this route, make certain all your personal data and files have been wiped, even if this involves physically removing the hard drive, as cyber thieves are very resourceful these days!
Recycle – With Caution
Finding an e-waste recycler to take your old electronics is not difficult – the hard part is locating a reputable company you can trust to process the item in an ecological way. Often times seemingly legitimate recycling companies are nothing more than a front for unscrupulous operations that flagrantly pollute the planet. Since it can be very frustrating and time-consuming to “vet” any company, a general rule of thumb is if the business is an old and well-established scrap metal recycler, they will probably apply the same ethical standards to their e-waste division as well.
Everything Old is New Again
Refurbishing companies like My Computing RX are a great choice if you change your mind and decide to keep the gadget. They have the ability to take what is considered obsolete equipment and upgrade it to sometimes better than new standards. Many perfectly functional computers are abandoned way too prematurely for want of something as simple as a new, fully supported operating system. The wealth of spare parts some old electronics might have is also an incentive to deal with a repair business, as your gadget might be just what they need to complete a job!
Is This Purchase Necessary?
Before considering any new consumer electronics and potentially adding to your e-waste woes, be sure to ask if you really need it, or if your desire to own it is merely some form of impulse buying. If you can’t live or work without the item, then the next step is to locate a store, or online vendor that will either buy it back, issue some form of credit, or take it as a trade-in for some other merchandise.
Taking the time to properly dispose of e-waste is something every consumer of electronics should seriously consider. 25 states currently have landfill bans on e-waste in place, with more pending.