How to Dispose of Your Old Cables and Cords Properly

Over at the Wall Street Journal, writer Katharine Bindley asked us to admit one thing to ourselves: Somewhere, in the back of a closet or an attic, we all have a box of unused cords and cables. Collected throughout a lifetime, their individual purpose remains unclear—yet you hold onto them in fear that you might, one day, need that mysterious white cable to fix your internet connection, or hook up your television, or, uh, solve some other, very important unforeseen tech issue at home.

Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s finally time to ditch the box once and for all. If you haven’t used a cord or cable in the last two years, you probably won’t ever need it. In fact, if you have any wires left over from a previous move, that’s an even better reason to ditch them; chances are you’ve forgotten their purpose entirely, and if you didn’t need them during the transition, you won’t ever really need them, period.

That’s even more relevant now that it looks like Apple’s lightning cable might be dead, meaning a USB-C cable is possibly all you’ll ever need. There’s a guaranteed ten cables gone from your box.

But what, then, are you to do with this box of cables you’ve so carefully collected over the years? Well, for one, don’t throw it in the trash. It’s electronic waste, and some contain dangerous chemicals, like lead or mercury, that can leak into landfills and water sources. You shouldn’t be so quick to throw them in your yellow bin, either; chances are your local curbside recycling program won’t accept them.

Instead, you do have plenty of alternative recycling options when it comes to getting rid of your stash of cables. PlanetArk has a locator you can use to find a nearby e-waste recycler which may strip out the metal components of your cables for recycling.

Certain charity stores will also accept these wires as donations, too, in case you’d like your box of cables to do some good.

MobileMuster is another recycling service in Australia that will take your handsets and their cables off your hands. You find can find a drop-off point or book a pick-up.

And if you’re wondering how to get rid of the rest of your electronic waste, like say, your used phones or laptops, here’s our guide on the subject.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.


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