Our technology is becoming obsolete. Every day, yesterday’s hot new gadget becomes today’s old fashioned trinket with its features one-upped by the latest piece of tech on the market. It’s true for personal computers, e-readers, MP3 players, video game consoles and just about any other piece of hardware you can imagine. Planned obsolescence is how manufacturers make their money.
The problem with this constant upgrade cycle is the disposal of outmoded equipment. With very few exceptions, consumer electronics are not biodegradable. The metals, plastics and other synthetic materials that make up your DVD player or laptop will sit in a landfill for a very, very long time. Aside from the issue of landfills growing out of control, some of the parts in your electronics equipment may be harmful to the environment. Fortunately, there are green alternatives to just throwing your old equipment in the garbage. These options will help the planet and other people, too.
1. Sell your old equipment. There are plenty of consumers who don’t need to be on the cutting edge of technology. These people would be more than happy with last year’s model or even hardware from a generation or two ago. Use online auction sites or local advertising to connect with these consumers and sell your old equipment to them. You’ll make some money that you can put toward your next upgrade, they will get some still-usable technology at a discount and the planet won’t have to worry about your computer sitting there for a thousand years.
2. “Trade up” and “buyback” programs. One purely the domain of video game hardware retailers, buyback and trade-in programs are garnering wider acceptance at a variety of retailers. With these programs, you can trade in your old equipment and earn credit toward the purchase of new hardware. The retailer will refurbish your old hardware if it needs it and then sell it to another customer while you save money on your new purchase.
3. Give it away. If you’re not so concerned with profiting by selling your equipment or earning trade-in value and you’re more into helping others, there are many charities and non-profit organizations that will gladly take your computer or other electronic equipment as a donation. These organizations will either keep the equipment to use for themselves, which saves them money in the long run, or sell it for funds to cover their operating expenses. Either way, your old equipment goes to a good cause instead of the landfill.
4. Find an e-cycling company. As the need for electronics disposal has grown, so has the market for WEEE recycling companies. E-cycling companies are businesses provide pickup and disposal service for old computer hardware and other electronic equipment. These companies may charge a small fee for pickup, and then they will wipe any hard drives if needed and will sell your old equipment for parts or donate it to charity. Essentially, they will take the hassle of doing #1 or #3 above off of you, and they might even do it for free.
5. Contact the manufacturer. If you’re at a loss and don’t know what else to do with your old equipment, call the company that made it. They might take it off your hands for spare parts or they may just recycle it or donate it for you, charging no fee at all just to earn some goodwill from a customer. Some may even offer credit toward the purchase of new equipment or may take your old hardware when you buy new equipment directly from them. As always, contact each manufacturer for their policy on this.