Recycling Electronics on the Internet

Recycling in General

I don't know about where you live, but here in Los Angeles, California, each household or apartment complex is issued enough green recycle bins/wheeled cans to accommodate most recycling. Unfortunately, the label on the can does not indicated electronic waste.

In fact, what is supposed to go into these cans is cardboard, paper waste, plastics marked with the recycle triangle, and wood.

Universal Recycling Symbol
Universal Recycling Symbol | Source

Recycle for Profit

Not quite instant, but you can get money for your old electronics as long as they aren't more than two or three years old. This depends on the item too.

There are ways to recycle your electronic goods and actually get some money back in the process. Apple products tend to have the longer recycling periods. Other items, such as MP3 players have shorter cycles.

Most cell-phones, smartphones, cameras, MP3 players, and tablet computers retain some value for two or three years after purchase.

Sell It Yourself

If you can't find the item you want to resell/recycle in the links below or you just feel the price offered is less than you can get on your own you might try selling on eBay or Craigslist.

I recommend using one of the sites listed below (You Renew, NextWorth, or Gazelle) to get a "ball-park" figure for your gadget. Then go to one of the sites named below with a price of your own; probably something close to what you've been quoted; close meaning slightly higher.

Craigslist
Posting items for sale on Craigslist is cost free. They only charge for real-estate listings and a few other types of listings. Personal items for sale by individuals is a usually no-cost proposition.

eBay
Selling on eBay may or may not cost you depending on the item. Unfortunately, you don't know until you start creating the ad, but the good news is that most of the time you don't pay a cent if your item doesn't sell.

Don't take my word alone for this, eBay has changed their sales policies more often than I change socks. So check the site before you find yourself paying a fee for selling something you no longer want.

Free-Cycling

FreeCycle
Can't sell your item? Never fear, you can still make sure it doesn't end up in a landfill or India where some poor schmo gets two dollars a day for breaking up your old item with a hammer.

There are a number of forums or groups on-line specifically set up to help you recycle your used goods. One is called Freecycle, and it's a Yahoo group. The group is subdivided by locale.

Craigslist
You can also give things away on Craigslist. Note that because Craigslist is located in San Francisco, going to the default home-page for "free" takes you to the SF site. You can launch craigslist from where-ever you are you can quickly locate "free" in the "for sale" section and post your item there.

Clearing Data Before Recycling

Of course if you are about to recycle you may be concerned about all the data you still have on your gadget. This article can help with that too.

Computers
Simply erasing your drive may not be that much of a security blanket. it's better to reformat instead. There are people out there who know how to recover, even from an erased disc, all of your old data.

Cellphones and Smartphones
There are services on-line for removing or copying and then destroying any data you may have left on your phone. See the links below for these sources.

MP3s and Media Players
This can be a little tougher, but you'll likely find the information on erasing the player in the manual it came with. However, if you can connect your MP3 player to your computer, and I'm pretty sure you can, the software for the MP3 player should allow you to remove any or all music files on the device. If you have a Windowstm computer you should even be able to do this by attaching to the device as if it were a file folder and erase from there.

EPA Recycling

The EPA also has a recycling program if all else fails. The program has alternatives to all of the methods mentioned above. The program deals with cellphones/smartphones, computers, and television sets.

Plugin To Recycle

Simply click the link above and click on the associated icon for the item you want to recycle.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
MacQuariumCat CaveMac2 Couch
MacQuarium
MacQuarium | Source
Cat Cave
Cat Cave | Source
Mac2 Couch
Mac2 Couch | Source

Some Personal Takes on Recycling

To my way of thinking recycling doesn't just mean dropping your old item into the recycle bin and hoping that something good comes of it.

Recycling, in it's purest sense, means extending the life of the item so that it doesn't end up back in the raw material loop or worse.

For example recycling an aluminium can takes just seven (7%) percent of the energy required to mine it, transport it, smelt it, transport the refined metal, shape it into a can, transport the cans to the producer, ship the canned product to the store, sell it, and transport it home.

If, on the other hand, you can find a use for the can very little energy is expended.

Reuse
Sometimes the best way to recycle eWaste is to give it to someone else so they can get extended use out of it. The list of links above for freecycling will help with that.

Adaptive Reuse
Sometimes the gadget you want to get rid of is so old no one wants it. Never fear, this is not the end of the world. For example, I have a PDA that was made a good twenty years ago. It runs on a single AA battery and has an address book, calculator, calendar, world-clock, you name it. It just doesn't make phone calls and it doesn't send e-mail (though it can be linked to Outlook mail).

In short, the device is now useless for it's original purpose because my smartphone does everything this gadget was designed to do and more.

So, I use it as a kitchen timer (I need at least three of these things for some meals) and because the timer can deal with hours and minutes it's perfect for things like slow-roast whole turkey or a crock-pot meal.

The case it came with just happens to be the perfect size for my smartphone so now I use the zipper clam-shell case for the smartphone.Also, because the case has handy pockets on the other side it's a perfect place for storing business cards.

Creative Reuse
When I told my wife I was writing this article she mentioned one Andy Ichimoto, a writer for the former MacUser magazine. The magazine wanted an interesting cover photo so Andy took an old MacIntosh and with a bit of work turned it into an aquarium.

Keep it in the Family
In my family, hand-me-downs are no insult. We all hate to throw things away. So typically a quick call to my mother, father, or brothers and sisters (or even cousins) could help keep an old item in practical use.

This isn't the best example, but it's still a good one.

My older brother loves to cook (I guess it runs in the family), but he's not big on buying kitchen gadgets. When I got married a new set of kitchen knives was one of the wedding gifts we bought with a gift-card.

What to do with the old set? I called my brother and learned he was about to recycle his own set as it just wasn't complete and he was tired getting them resharpened to little effect. My wedding gift purchase has eight cooking knives, eight steak knives and sharpening steel. My old set had five cooking knives in really good repair complete with a stylish block. Turns out it was just what he needed so he ended up with it.

I wish I'd kept the old set to be honest, they were better knives than the set my wife and I now own.

The "So Called" Moral
Not to be moralistic, but the plain and simple truth is if you have something you have no use for the best recycling possible is to get that item into the hands of someone who can use it.

The best recycling is the type that does not require that the item be melted down or scrapped. The best recycling means simply getting it to someone who can use it.

Coda

I hope this hub has given you some faith in recycling at the very minimum. The idea, of course, is to present the reader with more ideas than simply dumping the old gadget in the big green can. Though this is an option, I'm not sure it's a viable one. I've heard too many rumors about this stuff ending up overseas where someone with a hammer breaks it into it's component parts for less than minimum wage.

We can and should do better than that.

Besides, the materials we throw away today could be the very stuff we need tomorrow.

Andy Ichimoto
My wife couldn't remember exactly how Andy spelled his last name so if any reader knows Mr. Ichimodo (or Ichimoto) I'd love to hear from them so I can get my facts straight. The picture of the MacQuarium is not the one Andy made.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, either monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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