What the Tech? What to Do with Old Electronics to Keep Them Out of Landfills


While much attention is focused on recycling plastics and cleaning up parks and cities, an even greater problem in the United States is the amount of electronic waste that winds up in landfills.

As electronics keep dropping in price, it’s sometimes cheaper to buy something new than to pay to have something repaired. This is creating a growing problem. Where do you dispose of electronics?

Sooner or later we all have to get rid of an old computer and many people just trash them. But consider this: inside those computers are lead, mercury, and chromium. They’re toxic.

Dangerous chemicals cause all types of health problems. So if you shouldn’t trash them? What do you do?

E-Waste recycling centers are opening up across the country. Non-profit organizations will accept, and even pick up old computers and TVs and remove the parts that can be used again before disposing of the cases. Search Google to find an e-waste recycling center near you.

Most won’t charge you anything.

Best Buy has a great recycling policy. While the retailer doesn’t take some large items it will take computers, routers, printers, cellphones, old hard drives, and small appliances.

You simply take the electronics to a Best Buy location to drop them off. You’ll get a discount on a replacement item and if it works, you might be able to trade it in for a gift card.

The best way to limit the number of computers in landfills is to make yours last longer.

● Rather than tossing a laptop because the battery doesn’t last long, replace the battery.
● Replace the spinning hard drive with a solid-state hard drive with no moving parts.
● Clean out the dust with canned air. Dust turns to grime that’ll eventually damage the parts inside.
● Keep up with updates from Apple and Microsoft.
● Use an anti-virus and anti-malware program.

And the age-old question: is it best to turn off the computer when you’re not using it?

Leaving it on overnight will use a small amount of electricity but turning it off and on every day will limit its lifespan. Every time you turn it on all those parts start turning again. And most computer issues happen when it starts up. So rather than turning it off, put it to sleep overnight.

Turn it off about once a week to reboot everything and install any updates.

Today’s computers should last 8 years or more. Extending their life, even for a year, is going to help save the environment, and will save you a lot of money.



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