New Life for Old Technology

After the initial joy and excitement of a new piece of technology wears off, most often you’re left with a nagging question: what do I do with this old cellphone/laptop/gaming system? Most of us have a drawer or box (or closet!) filled with tech gadgets we don’t use anymore, and while out of sight usually equals out of mind, sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with your technological detritus.

If you’re willing to do just a bit of research on the front end, you can part with your old devices with a clear conscience. There are four avenues of disposal:

Obviously this works best with newer devices, such as that year-old iPad or last-generation smartphone. The more recent the gadget, the better chance you have of recouping some of your money. Don’t expect, however, to recover every dollar you spent. Much like a new car, tech devices begin to depreciate fairly quickly. Consider sites such as eBay,, or Craigslist, as well as placing an ad in your local paper.

Trading In
Some retailers and manufacturers will accept your old device as a trade-in, particularly if your old device is still fairly new. Your reward could come in the form of a gift card (which you can use for accessories) or cash toward a new device. Retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Radio Shack operate trade-in programs, while manufacturers such as Apple, Kodak, and Sony have buyback programs. Be sure to ask what your options are for these types of programs.

If your old device isn’t “new” enough to qualify for the previous two options, and yet still isn’t exactly ancient technology, you may be able to donate your gadget to charity. If it’s in good working condition, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and sites like will be able to help your old device find a new home. Donations can be tax-deductible, as well, so check with your tax professional about the benefits of benevolence.

If any of the options above aren’t really options, and you don’t really want your old devices sitting around gathering dust, recycle them. Numerous programs exist that take old, unusable devices and break them down into their components for reuse or disposal. Some local governments operate e-recycling programs to keep toxic materials out of the community waste stream. Manufacturers such as Dell and Samsung, as well as a host of cell phone manufacturers, administer a recycling program. And retailers such as Office Depot, Best Buy, and Staples offer drop-off locations for electronic recyclables.

Whatever method you choose to dispose of your old tech gadgets, however, please heed these words of wisdom:

First and foremost — NEVER toss old electronics into the trash. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also illegal in many states, including Indiana. Tech gadgets contain materials such as lead, arsenic, and mercury, which are toxic and can contaminate soil and drinking water.

Secondly, wipe your information from the gadget you’re disposing. Items such as cell phones and computers can contain personal information like passwords and bank account numbers, which can open you up to a host of problems if that information fell into the wrong hands.

And finally, no matter if you sell, trade, or donate a used device, include power cords, cables, and chargers, as well as any manual, case, or accessories that go with it. Chances are, your new device won’t use the same accessories, and these items can be difficult to obtain if the device is several years old.

Whatever you decide, knowing that you’ve given your old devices a proper send-off will help you to enjoy your new gadget that much more.

How do you move on from your old technology? Leave a comment and let us know.