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Pandemic downtime has made me acutely aware of just how many electronic devices have accumulated in my house over the years. While cleaning out my garage, I found two TVs, one desktop computer, three laptops, two iPads and a couple of landline phones.
Call it planned obsolescence or an insatiable thirst for the latest $1250 Apple iMac; these days, many of the most high-end tech products can feel dated after just a couple years on the market. At the same time, it can be hard to part with that iPhone 6 you shelled out $700 for in 2014, even if it’s basically worthless by modern phone trade-in standards.
The good news is most e-waste is recyclable. Even if your old mobile phone or computer doesn’t work or is severely damaged, there is a significant amount of metal, plastic, glass, copper and silver that can be recovered and reused.
In an effort to be a more eco-conscious consumer, I am donating all of my obsolete electronics so they can be of use to those who need them. While I took some of my less impressive gadgets to Goodwill, I ended up taking advantage of some retailers’ recycle programs for a few newer-looking items.
If, like me, you have a plethora of electronics that no longer serve you, take a look at the following places that offer credit or cash for donated electronics, as well as some more charitable organizations with fantastic causes.
The cool thing about Best Buy‘s recycling program is it will accept a wide variety of tech products, including some Best Buy does not actually sell. Customers can recycle in store, online or via a scheduled pickup for an additional fee. If a recycled item still has value, you’re eligible to receive a Best Buy gift card. If you’re interested in knowing the amount you’ll receive before recycling, check out the program here.
PRO TIP: You can recycle up to three household items (TVs, appliances, audio, computers, ink cartridges, video games and gadgets, cameras and more) per day. Plus, many of the items will guarantee discounts on your next electronic or appliance purchase. Make sure to check out the full list of promotions if you’re gearing up to make a big tech purchase.
Microsoft accepts laptops, tables, phones and gaming consoles. If it deems the product you’re trading in valuable, you will receive payment via Paypal or directly to your bank within 14 days of your device’s inspection. If the device no longer has value, Microsoft will wipe your data and safely recycle it for you.
Office Depot and OfficeMax
When you join Office Depot and OfficeMax‘s free Recycling Rewards program, you earn $2 back in rewards for every recycled cartridge when you spend $10 in a single month. The retailers will then give you a reward payout every quarter.
Office Depot will recycle up to 10 empty cartridges per month.
This isn’t super helpful unless you’re trying to get rid of Sony products, but what the program lacks in diversity and rewards it makes up for in ease of use. Sony is committed to recycling your old tech in an environmentally conscious fashion, and in most cases the whole thing is taken care of at no personal cost. If you’ve ever tried to offload one of those hulking, three-dimensional Sony TVs from the early 2000s, you know it’s hard to find a more cost-efficient method than this.
AT&T is the perfect place to bring old phones and tablets. The AT&T Trade-In Program allows you to safely recycle electronics in exchange for an AT&T Promotion Card. Done entirely online, AT&T will assess the value and give you a bill credit once they receive your shipped device.
This is one recycling program most people are already familiar with. After all, what do you think cell companies do with your old device when you trade it in for an upgrade?
Staples prides itself on being a one-stop-shop for all your recycling needs. It usually accepts pretty much anything that can be found in an office, including batteries, flash drives, bluetooth speakers, mice, keyboards and coffee machines. Like Best Buy, Staples’ trade-in program nets you a Staples gift card.
PRO TIP: When you sign up for Staples Rewards, you’ll earn $2 back in rewards on every recycled ink or toner cartridge.
The pandemic has been eye-opening; I am now much more inherently aware of how much I own and how little of it I actually use. Donating gently used clothing and electronics has brought a new level of appreciation to my life. Below are some great charity organizations that accept electronics.
Secure the Call works with domestic violence centers, senior citizen centers, police and sheriff departments by reconfiguring old mobile phones to only be able to call 911. The organization is currently running a COVID-related initiative that repurposes donated phones into video call devices for patients in quarantine.
Cell Phones for Soldiers is an organization accepting gently used cell phones for resale. All sales are used for prepaid minutes for soldiers deployed overseas.
World Computer Exchange accepts donated, working electronics in an effort to create computer labs for primary schools and colleges in developing countries.
Digitunity works to create equity throughout the country by providing computers to households that need them. They don’t receive the donations themself, instead connecting donors to partner charities that give the computers directly to individuals and families.
PRO TIP: Donating to a library, school or nonprofit program could give you a tax break on next year’s tax return.
What To Do Before You Donate
So you’re ready to donate? Remember that your devices could end up in multiple hands so it is essential to wipe any personal or stored data before turning anything over. Some organizations offer to do this step for you, but if it gives you more peace of mind, follow the steps below to clear out all your files, photos and important documents on your own.
Back Up Your Data
Back up all files, photos and important documents onto an external hard drive.
Wipe Your Data
Now that the external memory is cleared, you’ll want to reset it back to its factory settings. Simply put, remove all internal data. This will clear all your stored passwords and anything else still hiding. To do this, follow the steps below:
Wipe Your Android: settings –> system –> advanced –> reset options –> erase all data
Wipe Your iOS: settings –> general –> reset –> erase all content and settings
Wipe Your Windows Computer: settings –> update & security –> recover –> reset this PC –> get started
Wipe Your Chromebook: settings –> advanced –> power-wash
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