How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Electronics

Let’s try something. Quick! How many electronic products do you own? Cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions…gaming consoles, fitness trackers, thermostats, security systems…they add up don’t they?

If you find that total creeping toward numbers in the teens or higher, you certainly aren’t the only one. According to a study conducted by the Consumer Technology Association in 2013, the average American household owns 24 consumer electronic products. And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they’re the fastest-growing slice of what Americans are throwing away.

In a world in which a new gadget comes out seemingly every week, it’s no wonder American households are drowning in tech. Throw in a capitalist system that rewards built-in obsolescence and you have an electronics industry that thrives on the quick turnover of new products and a society that can’t get enough. Our waste management system just can’t keep up, and it’s putting us and our environment at risk.

So what should we be doing with broken or unwanted electronics? Let’s take a look.

Protect your data

Before you send those broken electronics to your local recycling facility, make sure you erase all of your personal information. Donate without wiping your data and your credit cards, social security numbers, family photos and banking information could be out there for the taking.

Recycling required

Electronic products contain toxic substances like lead and mercury that must be disposed of carefully. These materials can be so dangerous that, so far, 25 states have passed laws requiring that old electronics be recycled. Don’t abide and you’ll be fined.

One company, Call2Recycle, has drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries and cell phones all over the United States. Additionally, many cities have started sponsoring collection days for old electronics. Visit TIA E-cycling Central for a list of events by state!

Keep reading: Do You Know Where Your Electronic Waste is Going?

Give it away

If your electronic device still works, there is a market for it! Start by checking out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore if you have one near you, or call around to senior organizations and recreation centers.

Here are a few more programs that can use or repurpose your old electronics:

  1. Dell Reconnect by Goodwill
  2. The World Computer Exchange
  3. eBay for Charity
  5. Apple GiveBack
  6. Amazon
  7. Office Depot

Keep reading: Top 10 Most Important Items to Recycle

Whether you recycle your device completely or simply find it a new home, giving your old electronics new life is a great way to help curb the waste problem we’re experiencing today. Thanks for doing your part!


Barbara S
Barbara S14 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Lizzy O
Past Member 16 days ago

many thanks

Ganaisha C
Ganaisha Calvin22 days ago

mine tend to be beyond repair if i upgrade

Caitlin L
Caitlin L23 days ago


Hannah A
Hannah A26 days ago

thanks very much

Jan S
Sara S28 days ago

thank you

Olivia H
Olivia Habout a month ago

many thanks

Lara A
Lara Aabout a month ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.

Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.