If you are a technology lover like Michael Thomas Eckhardt, the chances are pretty good that you have a drawer (or closet, or even room!) full of old gadgets. Computers from the last century, Furby’s, flip phones, hard drives, busted laptops, cables, printers…the list goes on and on. You probably are aware that you should never throw your “e-waste” in the garbage – it is loaded with toxic chemicals that should be treated with respect to prevent leakage into the environment. You should also be wary of tossing a whole whack of personal information onto the garbage heap where anyone could pick it up. And thus, the burning question – just what can you do with all that stuff?
For technology that is truly past its prime, you should investigate the local options you have for recycling. Check with the waste management authorities in your city to find out about the programs they operate to take things like old technology, batteries and other items that need to be properly handled. Also be sure to check with the manufacturer – some, like Apple, will gladly take your old tech off your hands for responsible recycling. No matter how you will recycle it, however, be sure that you have wiped it completely clean to protect your data.
There are many people who would be very happy to get their hands on your old tech. If the item in question is simply not the latest rather than truly unusable, you may find that an ad in the local Craigslist or buy and sell Facebook page for your town is all it takes to find someone interested in taking your last-year’s Iphone off your hands. Even older gadgets and tech may have some value to someone – that giant box of cables that has been collecting dust in your garage may be considered a jackpot for some collector of old gaming systems who has been looking for months for the right cable.
There are many ways that you can repurpose dated technology that still works. The internet is full of practical and sometimes goofy ways (Apple logo belt buckle, anyone?) to make use of everything from old computer fans to cases to keyboards to CD holders. And of course, more recent technology such as tablets and iPhones can be put to many practical uses in your home or car.
Don’t overlook donation as a great way to find a new home for your old technology. There are a number of national charities that accept technology in pretty much any condition for refurbishing in support of local communities, to provide technology to low-income families, children, or to use for training. If you would prefer to donate closer to home, consider local women’s shelters whose residents may have left their homes with nothing, schools and community centers, or homes for seniors. You might also want to donate the tech to the local Salvation Army or other charitable groups that can use the technology themselves or sell it to support their missions.
As you can see, there are lots of things that you can do with your dated technology, some of which allow you to do some good for others while creating some space in your closet or cabinet. Whatever you do, remember to wipe your data to protect yourself!