Spring Cleaning: Electronics Edition


Old Mobile Phones,Camera and Camcorders
Old Mobile Phones,Camera and Camcorders
As you organize and declutter your home this spring, you may come across old or unused electronics. Before you toss those unwanted gadgets, though, you may want to consider recycling them. Recycling or finding new homes for old electronics isn’t just an environmentally friendly option; throwing them in the trash may be illegal in your state, says Consumer Reports. So what should you do with old electronics? Here are a few options.

Recycle Old Electronics

Electronics are composed of metals, plastics and glass, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says these materials are mined using natural resources or manufactured in a way that causes pollution. Recycled electronics can be an alternative source of these materials.

Many electronics manufacturers have set up programs for recycling old, broken technology, notes Consumer Reports. Through these programs, you may be able to return computers, printers and cartridges, phones, TVs, rechargeable batteries and even electrical cords to a drop-off location or through the mail, says Consumer Reports. Retailers of these products, nonprofits and local governmental bodies also often collect these items, says Consumer Reports.

If your electronics are old but still function, donation might be a good disposal option for you. The EPA says donated electronics can go to schools, nonprofit organizations and low-income families. In other situations, donated electronics can be a much-needed resource in times of trouble. For example, organizations like 911 Cell Phone Bank collect old cell phones and provide them to abuse victims, emergency service personnel and senior citizens as a way to call 911 in a crisis. As long as they have a charged battery, cell phones can be used to call 911.

If your electronics are outdated or have missing components, TechSoup.org suggests donating them to a refurbisher who can fix them up and pass them on to people who need them. A refurbisher can repair or upgrade the equipment and software before donating it so the item is ready to use right away. The EPA notes some donation organizations may not accept electronics that aren’t working or require a lot of updating, so you may want to make sure the device meets the refresher’s requirements before dropping it off. And, before you part with that old computer, be sure you wipe the hard drive to help prevent your personal data, including financial information, from ending up in someone else’s hands.

Tidy Up Cords

Once you have properly disposed of your old electronics, it’s time to clean up your cords. After recycling the cords you don’t use, Real Simple offers a few ideas for organizing the ones you still need. This includes:

  • Using a multiple-outlet adapter to save kitchen counter space
  • Wrapping excess cord length around an organizing device designed to keep it under control
  • Bundling your cords in a single tube, called a cable zipper, to consolidate the cords that hang under your desk

If you have cords or cables that aren’t in constant use, such as phone chargers, you can still keep them organized yet easily accessible. One solution, suggests  BobVila.com, is to attach thin cables to the side of your desk with small clips.

Spring cleaning can entail so much more than washing the windows or cleaning out a closet. If you’re planning to clear out unneeded electronics or want to tame your existing workstation, these options may provide some solutions — and even benefit others in the process.

By Cristel Mohrman

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