We know, it’s embarrassing: The holidays roll around — then post-holiday sales roll around — and suddenly we have a bunch of new stuff. But it comes with guilt. Sure, the new phone, tablet, e-book reader, computer, game console, or TV is great … but now we also have an old phone, tablet, e-book reader, computer, console, or TV taking up space. Sometimes they find new uses immediately; other times they’re just pushed aside into a drawer, closet or under the bed. After all, that old gear is probably worth something to someone somewhere, right? It’s not junk: We were just using it last week! And most can’t simply be thrown away: they contain toxic materials, heavy metals, and rare earths that leach into the environment.
Fortunately, hiding gadgets in the recesses of your house and forgetting about them is not your only option. Recycling, donating or selling old electronics is easier than ever. Here’s how.
Much of the work of letting go of old devices happens before you unplug them. You’ve got to preserve your information, then scrub your old devices clean of your data. This includes documents, photos, email, and messages, but also a myriad of hidden settings and files: You don’t want whoever uses it next to be able to log in to your Facebook account. Same goes game consoles and even seemingly innocuous things like set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. Here are the basics:
Back up your data—Make a working copy of your data before wiping a device clean. We know this seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people lose their photos, music, email, texts, and address books when they decide to upgrade their phone. Once you’ve made a copy (to a hard drive, SD card, cloud service, a new device, etc.) make sure the backup works before wiping your old device. Record any passwords or license codes you need in a secure place.
For iPhones and iPads, Apple’s iCloud and iTunes offer online and local backup to a Mac or Windows PC; third party backup tools are available. Android users can go with Google or a number of third-party apps and services, including some from device manufacturers.
When backing up a computer, be sure you can boot from your backup. On a phone or other mobile device, spot-check your data to make sure it’s accessible. Some things are easy to replace—most apps and media purchases can be re-downloaded, given enough time and bandwidth — but that adorable video of your kid sister with gummi bears up her nose might be unique in the universe.
Cancel services — Don’t pay for services you won’t be using! If you’re getting rid of a phone, cancel your phone service or transfer it to a new device. (Same goes for tablets and notebooks with mobile data service!) If you’re using cloud-based media or backup, cancel your subscriptions (if you won’t use them) or de-authorize your old device and set up service on your new one. Lots of services have three- or five-device limits. Moving from Xbox to PlayStation, or vice versa? Cancel your PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold membership if you won’t be using it. Ditching that older Roku set-top box? If you won’t be using Amazon Prime Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix or whatever elsewhere, stop paying for it. The same advice applies to software subscriptions. Moving from Windows to Mac? Might be time to rethink that Office 365 subscription.
Erase your info — For phones, tablets, and many other devices, you can clear off your data by performing a factory reset. Often, this means digging through configuration menus because reset options are usually tucked away to prevent accidental erasures. For computers, it means re-formatting your drive and (maybe) re-installing your operating system, whether from a recovery partition (like OS X Recovery), a backup drive, or original installation discs. It’s tempting to think simply deleting your visible files (or your user account) is enough to protect you, but recovery programs can still pull information back after deletion, and just deleting the obvious stuff leaves loads of personal data behind, like passwords, account names, software registrations, and even banking information. It’s best to completely format the drive. If you have the time, choose “thorough” or “most secure” options that overwrite the disk several times and let it run overnight.
Take out any SD cards, USB drives, and other removable media. Remember: it’s not just phones, tablets, and computers that have sensitive information! E-book readers, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, DVRs, boomboxes, audio receivers, set-top devices like Apple TV, and digital cameras can all carry things like usernames, account info, Wi-Fi passwords, and more. Reset everything.
If you’re selling or trading in your device, disable any tracking services like Find My iPhone or LoJack for Laptops. Otherwise, the value of your device drops to zero.
For phones and tablets with mobile data — Remove your SIM card. Every device is different, but in general it’s either in a tray you can pop out, or tucked in with the battery. Check online (most device makers post instructions — here are Apple’s) or in the instructions that came with your device.
Get rid of it
If your stuff is just junk — maybe it’s broken, too old to be useful, or you simply want to be done with it — you have lots of options for safely disposing of gadgets and electronics.
- The Greener Gadgets site operated by the Consumer Electronics Association lets you search for recycling and disposal services by ZIP code. They only cover nationwide efforts in the U.S., but that includes major retail chains like Staples and Best Buy (most of which will accept a wide variety of items), so it can be a great resource for finding recycling locations in a hurry — like when you’re moving.
- Earth911’s search feature lists both nationwide and local recycling locations by city name or ZIP code, along with what products they accept. Search results are not just limited to electronics, so you can find places that’ll take toner cartridges, lead-acid batteries, metal, appliances, and even plastic bags.
- E-cycling Central lists electronics recyclers and refurbishers by state, but also includes some local non-profits that can take electronics off your hands and help out the less fortunate.
- Call2Recycle is a non-profit focusing on rechargeable batteries and mobile phones, which contain some of the most toxic stuff that winds up in landfills. Call2Reycle’s search feature covers nationwide and local no-cost recycling locations in both the U.S. and Canada.
Many municipalities and counties have partnered with private companies to set up electronics disposal or recycling services. There may be a fee for recycling some items, like CRT monitors or televisions, but sometimes the service is part of your utility bill, and many places waive fees during periodic recycling drives.
If you want to wring every last penny of value out of your gear, you have two options: sell it, or trade it in.
Craigslist and eBay are the most-common venues for selling your stuff, but they’re not for everybody. With Craiglist, you have to meet and deal with prospective buyers, or invite them over to check out large items: not something everyone is comfortable doing. Of course, eBay is more hands-off, but if you don’t already know the ropes of selling on eBay, getting things listed can be as painful as filling out income tax forms. However, selling your stuff directly is probably the best way to get top dollar for it.
Trade-in programs give you cash or credit for your old gear — but usually less than what your gear could command in the open market. Companies offering credit for trading in recent products include Apple, HP, and Sony — and these can be great options if you’re upgrading to a new product from the same company.
Many retailers offer trade-in programs for recent products they think they can refurbish or re-sell. Amazon will take back eligible items for Amazon Gift Cards, and offers free shipping to get the items into Amazon’s hands. (Unsurprisingly, this means Amazon doesn’t take heavy items like TVs, but they do take Blu-ray players, headphones, and even wireless routers.) Best Buy will take trade-ins at many of its retail locations in exchange for Best Buy gift cards. Even if they won’t offer a gift card for your stuff, they will still recycle it for free.
Se i valori di permuta di Amazon e Best Buy sembrano irrisori, potresti avere altre opzioni. NextWorth accetta un'ampia varietà di tablet, telefoni, fotocamere, computer notebook, oltre a console di gioco e persino videogiochi. Se ti piace la loro offerta per le tue cose, puoi stampare etichette di spedizione UPS gratuite o portare articoli in più di 1.500 località negli Stati Uniti (inclusi molti negozi Target) per essere pagato con assegno, PayPal, carta regalo Target o un pre- carta pagata. Allo stesso modo, Gazelle paga telefoni, tablet e prodotti Apple tramite assegno, PayPal o carta regalo Amazon. E-Cycle punta maggiormente alle aziende e alle imprese, ma pagano tramite assegno o PayPal per smartphone e tablet recenti e applicano lo stesso regime di cancellazione e protezione dei dati che offrono alle aziende.
Se i $ 50 offerti per il tuo vecchio MacBook Pro in permuta sembrano una perdita di tempo, forse puoi invece ottenere punti karma (o almeno una detrazione fiscale), purché funzioni ancora. La National Cristina Foundation offre un servizio di localizzazione per abbinare la tua attrezzatura a organizzazioni non profit, scuole, enti pubblici e organizzazioni di volontariato locali semplicemente inserendo un indirizzo o un codice postale.Potresti pagare per la spedizione, ma non ci sono costi o espedienti nascosti , e molte organizzazioni non profit locali verranno a raccogliere roba. E-cycling Central (sopra) elenca anche una serie di organizzazioni non profit insieme ai riciclatori tradizionali. Hai un vecchio telefono che raccoglie polvere? Dai un'occhiata a Phones 4 Charity e assicurati la chiamata.
Ci sono molti buoni motivi per mantenere i vecchi dispositivi: un computer di backup può essere un'ottima idea, un tablet di due anni continuerà a far divertire i bambini e i vecchi telefoni possono ancora chiamare il 911. Ma se hai solo l'elettronica seduta inattivo e occupando spazio, ci vuole solo un po 'di lavoro per fare la cosa giusta. Andateci.
Immagine principale per gentile concessione di Shutterstock / Pablo Hidalgo