Recycling paper, glass bottles, and plastic is easy—you probably have a center nearby or curbside bins—but do you know how to safely recycle electronics and gadgets like cell phones, laptops, and batteries? Or are they piling up in your garage and basement, collecting dust, and adding to your clutter? Here’s how to get rid of them without harming the environment, and you might even be able to make some cash in the process!
Whether your phone is in working condition or not, many charities accept them as tax-deductible donations. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a charity that recycles gadgets like new or gently used phones to provide active duty soldiers and veterans free talk time.
Verizon’s HopeLine program takes used phones, chargers, and cords (from any plan or provider) and then refurbishes or recycles them. The refurbished phones are sold, and Verizon donates the money raised to fund non-profit agencies and to purchase wireless phones for victims of domestic violence. They will also take older, unsalvageable phones and dispose of them according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Do a quick search online for other reputable local charities and places to recycle your unused cell phones. Also, check the EPA’s website for more suggestions
Cords and Charging Cables
Like most of us, you probably have a drawer full of cords, charging cables, and AC adapters that have been collecting dust for years, and what’s worse is you likely have no idea if you still own the devices that these cords once charged! To rid yourself of this tangled mess, take it to a scrap yard or a recycling center that buys metal, so the copper wire inside can be salvaged. You’ll have a few more dollars in your pocket and less clutter in your drawers!
When a battery is out of juice, don’t simply toss it! Batteries, whether they are alkaline or lithium ion, are considered hazardous waste. Instead, store batteries in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until you are ready to recycle them. Before storing, make sure to cover terminals with clear plastic tape so that they can’t make contact with each other or with metal. This will prevent an accidental short circuit, which could cause sparks or possibly fire.
When you are ready to dispose of the batteries, call your local recycling center or city sanitation department to inquire about drop-off locations. If neither of these options is available, contact retailers like Staples, Office Depot, or Best Buy for recycling options.
Laptops and Desktops
To recycle electronics like laptops and desktop computers, ask your city’s sanitation department if they have any drop-off locations. Many retailers, like Dell and Apple, will often take used computers off of your hands—sometimes with a trade-in or buyback option if you are looking to purchase new equipment. If your computer is still in good working condition, you can also donate it to a thrift store. There is always someone in need of an inexpensive computer!
CDs & DVDs
Don’t just put your CDs and DVDs in the trash! Waste removal services don’t often recycle the discs because they are classified as number 7 plastics, which are either specialty plastics or plastic mixed with other materials. Unfortunately, they often end up in landfills. Instead, try selling your unwanted CDs and DVDs online. Ebay, Etsy, and other websites bring in droves of crafters looking for project materials. If you just want to get rid of them, you can also take them to your nearest electronics recycling center.