Did you bring home a new gadget? Here's how to properly dispose of the old one.

Tidying up your space often means getting rid of old electronics that have been cluttering up your office closet for so long that the company doesn't even sell that model anymore. In your big sweep, you might be tempted to toss them in the trash, but you'll need to think twice: Some states have banned electronics from landfills as the materials can cause environmental damage if they aren't properly disposed of. Cathode Ray Tubes (if your TV has a round screen, it's probably a CRT), computers, and rechargeable batteries are some of the most commonly banned items, but it varies from state-to-state.

Luckily, you have lots of options for safely getting rid of your old gadgets, and, in some cases, you might get rewarded for your troubles. From cell phones to microwaves and cords to calculators, there's a company that will either recycle or redistribute your devices. In all cases, you should carefully read the site's instructions for turning your products in, as most provide in-depth lists of the products they do and do not accept. Many will request that you take out any removable batteries and wipe the hard drives of personal information.

recycling bin filled with electronics
Credit: Getty Images

First and foremost, you'll want to check if the retailer that you bought the device from has a buyback program; this generally means you turn in your old tech produce and get a credit so that you can get a new one at a reduced price. Nonprofit organizations such as Computers With Causes and World Computer Exchange accept old (but working!) computers and other electronics, keeping them out of landfills and encouraging technological literacy in communities that don't have regular access. Goodwill will take working devices off your hands, but they'll also accept and fix most broken items, too.

Even if your device no longer works, it can still be useful. Recyclers will break it down so that the components can be repurposed. This means that raw materials get a second life and virgin resources won't have to be extracted. Many retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and HP will recycle almost all of your devices for free or, if they are bulky or have CRT monitors, for a small fee. You can also go through municipal and local recyclers. The Consumer Technology Association has a very user-friendly list of certified electronics recyclers—the certification assures that the recycler is handling the device in a way that is safe to both the environment and their employees.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
December 29, 2019
I would have found this article more helpful if they'd spoken more about identity theft using old electronics other than a superficial "wipe the hard drive". It is good to know that some of my electronics could be harmful. It would be better to know which electronics and what substances... Who What When Where Why Thanks!