How To Safely Dispose of Old Tech
By: Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service company.
When old tech is thrown out, it is known as eWaste. eWaste, or electronic waste, can be extremely harmful to the environment due to the materials that are used during the production of our gadgets. Once your old tech is dumped into a landfill or incinerated in a furnace, harmful chemicals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and barium and leech into the earth surrounding them as well as the air. If these chemicals are spread into the ground, then they can also contaminate water and plants as well. The Nerds from Nerds on call are here to explain what exactly you should do with those old gadgets.
The first step is to confirm whether or not your old device has any value. A good place to start is Gazelle.com, as they offer good pricing on recent generations of smartphones or tablets. Gazelle.com is best for newer, working items, so selling that first generation iPod Nano with 2GB of storage may be a challenge. If you are unable to get anything from your first option, look into Amazon’s Trade In Program. You can receive Amazon gift cards for a wide variety of items such as: phones games, electronics, movies, music, cameras, headphones, speakers, and more. The only catch here is that the item must be in “acceptable” condition, which is to be judged my Amazon upon arrival of the item. Staples also has an eCash Card incentive for trading in old tech. They will give you a quote for your item, and if it is in working condition, they will offer an eCash card.
So what do you do if the item you are trying to get rid of has no value? Well, if it is a large item like an old tube television or a home appliance, go online to TotalReclaim.com, fill out the online form to schedule a pickup of your electronics or appliances, they will go as far to pick up old HVAC units. If your old tech is small, you can take it into Best Buy and drop it off in the recycling kiosks by the front door. There is no fee for in-store drop off of items of any size, and electronics in all conditions are accepted. If you have a big item to recycle at Best Buy, simply take it to the Customer Service area.
Before you run to a nearby recycling center, remember to be sure that all of your personal information is removed from the device that you are throwing away. For Windows users, visit Fileshredder.org, it is a free service that will write over the area of the hard drive that files were stored in. If you are using a Mac and have OSX, this feature has been built into your Disk Utility Menu and you do not need any additional software. For Mobile devices, find the “Restore Factory Default Settings” option so that all of your app data and apps that you have installed will be overwritten. The old device will be back to the way it was when you first bought it If you are using an Android device, enable the “Encrypt Phone” option before restoring the phone or tablet. When you encrypt your device, it makes any data that is retrieved off of the device after the restore unusable. Newer iPhones and iOS mobile devices automatically encrypt data on the device which is a nice security feature.
So, before you toss out that old smartphone, tablet, or computer, be sure to first check if it is worth anything. If you can make a few bucks back to put towards the newest generation of gadgets, why wouldn’t you? If there is no value in the device, schedule a pickup of large items or drop small items off into eWaste centers or recycling kiosks. Be sure you have removed all traces of any personal information from the device so that the next user does not find themselves wading through an ocean of credit card numbers and billing information.