If you have a few old cell phones tucked away in a drawer and some ancient computer towers and monitors taking up space in your garage, you are not alone. Plenty of us have old tech gathering dust in our homes; as we purchase the shiny new device the previous one tends to get shoved aside.
If you would like to take back your junk drawer and garage storage and finally get rid of these old tech devices, it is actually pretty easy to do so. As a major bonus, there are eco-friendly ways to do it that don’t involve sending your stuff to the landfill.
Transfer data and then wipe it clean
Before you donate or sell those dusty old smartphones, spend some time transferring and backing up any data and photos and then completely wipe them to be sure any sensitive data is safe. You might be surprised to find photos from your cousin’s wedding on your old smartphone; transfer them off of the phone, along with any contact info and other data you may need.
Next, because those phones probably contain all sorts of sensitive information, use a factory reset to “wipe” the devices clean and clear the data in the phone’s memory. Your owner’s manual, if you still have it, should have advice on how to wipe a phone, or you can find the info online or call your local carrier for advice. A SIM card may still contain sensitive info, even on a “wiped” phone, so remove that too prior to disposing of the phone.
In the case of an old computer, transfer any data to a zip drive and then pull out the hard drive. To play it really safe, sign up for an identity theft protection program to monitor the state of your financial information and accounts. Since identity theft can happen when you are donating old tech—even when you are pretty sure you have successfully wiped the devices clean—an identity theft protection program can give you invaluable peace of mind. You’ll get 24/7 detection of the malicious use of your personal info and you’ll be immediately alerted you if something is amiss.
Find a buy back retailer
If you have a Best Buy in your town, this is a great place to take your old tech. The store will gladly take your old devices off of your hands, including computer parts like those huge old towers, ancient cell phones and tablets. An employee can determine if the items you are dropping off to be recycled are worth anything; if they are, they will present you with a Best Buy gift card.
You can also check with your smartphone carrier to see if they have a buy back/trade in program. If you have an old Apple device like a laptop or phone you might be able to drop it off at an Apple store, possibly for a small credit.
Bring it to a recycler
There are a number of nonprofit organizations that can help you recycle your old tech gadgets and keep them out of the dump. Call2Recycle has drop-off locations for both old phones and rechargeable batteries; just enter in your zip code on their website to find out where to take your items. Check your local garbage company’s website to see if they offer an annual electronics recycle day; you can also check EcyclingCentral.com to see what donation events take place in your state.
Keep your drawers, garage and landfill as empty as possible
It’s reassuring to know that you don’t have to banish your old tech to the trash can. By spending some time to clean your old devices of your personal info, investing in an identity theft program and then looking into buy back and/or recycling programs, you can clear out the old devices in an eco-friendly way.
Do you have any ideas or tips to share on how to keep old tech devices out of our landfills – please share them in the comment section?
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