Season of Gifts: Get New Tech, Recycle Old Tech

Recycle your old electronics, please!

OK then, we all know that Santa Claus — as well as his various representatives and minions — will be calling on many if not most of our households before the end of the year. Often, the gift givers will come bearing electronics of some kind.


It might be a new smartphone, a tablet, a PC, a TV, or something else electronic (and hopefully, magical). Almost as often, it will be replacing something older, less capable, and perhaps even relatively obsolete.


Sure, that means the old stuff has to go, but please, please, please: Don't throw your outdated electronics in the trash. The last thing our landfills need are the heavy metals and other nasty chemicals that can leach out of old electronic waste (also called "e-waste") into the environment.


Practice Proper Disposal Instead


When it comes to old-but-still-usable electronics of any kind, finding another home for such devices is infinitely preferable to improper disposal in a landfill. For old PCs or laptops, parts, and components (e.g. keyboards, mice, monitors, cables, drives and so forth) I turn to a local charity group named Reglue.


Reglue specializes in refurbishing older computers (laptops, desktop and anything else that works, or can be made to work). These good folks install Linux on such devices and gift them to underserved students in the local community (all over central Texas).


Kids use them for schoolwork and to obtain a vital connection to the Internet, to help bring them and their families onto the right side of the infamous "digital divide." If you use your favorite search engine to ask about "computer donations in [Name of town]" you can usually find at least one or two agencies or charities in your area that handle this kind of thing.


For Older Cellphones, Resale May Be an Option


If the service provider who sells you a new cellphone doesn't offer at least a modest trade-in for the old phone, then you can always look to online traders to get something for the old device. I've done business with Gazelle many times over the years, both coming (new devices incoming) and going (old devices on their way to a new user). Here again, you can almost always find another home for the old device, if you're willing to expend some time and effort on such a quest.


When in Doubt, Try Goodwill Industries


In all of its U.S. locations, Goodwill Industries accepts and safely disposes of e-waste through its normal dropoff intake system. Partnering with Dell in many states, Goodwill offers up the "Dell Reconnect" program which permits consumers to "responsibly recycle any brand of unwanted computers or other computer equipment in any condition."


I make at least two runs a year to Goodwill (which has three different locations within 5 miles of my house) to drop off old components, cables, monitors, audio and video equipment, and other kinds of electronics. If Goodwill can't find a way to refurbish and resell old electronics, it operates numerous recovery operations where the equipment is stripped of recyclable materials, and the remainder is incinerated to comply with environmental and waste reduction standards.


So remember: Don't toss old electronics in the trash when you get new stuff. Find a way to dispose of those things responsibly, through one or more of the outfits mentioned here (or their local equivalents) in your area. Happy holidays!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.