When I help people setup a new computer, camera or printer, the standard question asked by the new gadget owner is; “What shall I do with the old one?” I think that the value of tech curbside recycling is highly undervalued.
Curbside recycling involves hauling your old hardware out to the curb and just leaving it there. In most moderately busy neighborhoods (HOA’s rules aside), a piece of technology on the street will be snapped by a collector or hobbyist in less than 48 hours and often much quicker. The item gets reused or put to work in someway, you didn’t have to fret about where to take it and haul it long distances, and the device more than likely won’t end up in a land fill…a win-win-win situation.
Other suggestions I give for recycling old computer/tech gadgets include:
- Donate to a church or organization (most schools no longer accept old computer donations)
- Drop the item off at a Goodwill or Salvation Army store if they will take it
- Find a neighborhood garage or yard sale and leave the item with them if they don’t mind
- Many cities have a toxic waste and technology waste collection day or ongoing site to take these types of items
- Put an ad in the local paper to give-away your item. Most newspapers don’t charge for this type of ad
- Use online services like Freecycle or eBay to get rid of your old tech.
- For old cell phones, check with your cell phone provider, many offer free recycling and donation for your old cell phone
When it comes to donating a computer or laptop. Make sure you first erase or physically remove the hard drive. You don’t want to expose yourself to identity thieves by giving away a computer with potentially telling information on the hard drive. If you leave the hard drive in the machine, and your system came with recovery CD’s, use them to restore the computer to its original state and delete all of your data at the same time. If you want to leave the hard drive in and don’t have recovery CD’s, use Boot and Nuke or Active KillDisk to securely and completely destroy your data.
The bottom line on getting rid of your old tech, is that it can probably be used by someone, somewhere. Don’t just chunk it into the garbage, use one of these easy and quick ways to extend its life.