Reader Alicia asked the following question:
What’s the best way to dispose of broken electronics? I have a drawerful of old cameras, Discmans, earbuds, etc. – can I just throw them out or is there a better way to get rid of the clutter?
Great question, Alicia! Your notion to keep the electronics out of your trash can is correct. Electronics should be donated to charity or recycled–not sent to take up space in a landfill.
Listed below is a small collection of resources for what you can do with old electronics. This list is obviously not exhaustive, so hopefully people will add some additional ideas into the comments section. Also, a search of your local government’s website with the terms “tech recycle” or “electronic recycle” will likely yield a number of results specific to your community.
Before I get to the list of disposal and recycling services, I would like to remind you that if you are getting rid of a computer or any electronic device with a hard drive that you should properly delete the contents of the drive first and reset it to factory settings. To do this, check out the following programs:
- Disc Utility to do a wipe on a Mac computer or iPod.
- Darik’s Boot and Nuke is the Unclutterer staff’s favorite for PC and Linux hard drive erasing.
Remember that smartphones and smartwatches should have their data erased and reset to factory settings as well.
Now, on with the list for disposing of old electronics:
- Both Dell computers and Apple have trade-in programs. Apple’s program includes iPods and iPhones.
- Best Buy has a trade-in and recycling program for all sorts of electronics including video gaming systems, audio and visual equipment, and cameras.
- The National Cristina Foundation can tell you which charitable associations in your local area accept used electronics. Just type your zip code into the search box.
- Goodwill and The Salvation Army accept electronics in some areas, so call your local agency to find out if they participate in these donation programs.
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.