Recently a friend asked me, "Where do gadgets go to die?" My first response was that gadgets don't necessarily have to perish and might even serve some purpose still, even if it isn't for the current owner anymore. Here's a quick list of some of the best places to drop off an old gadget for recycling - and you might even get something useful in return!
- Target: The superstore chain recently made the move to become more of an electronics powerhouse. On a greener note, Target also added a new incentive e-cycling program: bring an old gadget in, get a gift card on the way out. Check with your local Target location to see what might be accepted.
- Best Buy: Best Buy has actually been doing the gift card offer for awhile now, but it can be conducted in-store or even online. The electronics retailer takes things farther with offering a haul-away service for oversized products like refrigerators and kiosks at every location nationwide for recycling everyday products like batteries, CDs/DVDs and even old gift cards.
- Verizon: The wireless provider accepts all devices, regardless of wireless carrier or model. To participate, you'll have to go through a 4-step process in which your phone will need to be appraised, then you'll be given an offer and shipping information. If everything checks out, you'll be getting something green in return.
- Apple: The Cupertino-based company does like to maintain an eco-friendly image with a recycling service for its own products. For starters, if you turn in an old iPod, you can get a 10% discount towards a new one. Computers are welcome as well, but the process is a bit different. Apple accepts both Mac and PC desktops and laptops, although non-Apple products will cost consumers $30 to recycle. But if your computer has any monetary value left, you'll get that in the form of a gift card too.
- Staples: This retailer accepts used desktops, laptops, monitors, printers, fax machines and all–in–ones at every Staples location nationwide. Unfortunately, only Dell products are accepted for free. Everything else gets a $10 surcharge. It might seem strange to pay for recycling, but it is probably a safer option to donate through a store rather than leave it on the street - especially when it comes to a gadget that could leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Yet personal electronics, such as digital cameras and cell phones, are accepted for free. Ink cartridges are welcome as well, and if you donate 10 per calendar month, you'll get $2 back in Staples Rewards for each cartridge.
- Goodwill: If you just want to plain get rid of something, Goodwill locations across the country will take your old electronics. Just check with the closest location to you before making the trip down there. You might even get to claim a tax deduction, depending on the worth of the product.
- Close the Gap: There's plenty of good that can come from donated electronics. Many are refurbished and re-purposed for schools and other nonprofit organizations around the world. Close the Gap is one such international organization that accepts old computers from businesses and corporations for communities in developing nations. Other companies that do similar good deeds include Digital Links and the World Computer Exchange, the latter of which actually specifies on its website what it is currently searching for in specific regions.
- EcoSquid: Type in the brand and product name into this search engine, and you should get some results revealing cash offers for your device and/or the "best way" to recycle the old gadget. To get an accurate idea of what kind of condition your product is in, you'll have to fill out a brief survey first. Similar options that might work for you include Green Phone and Flipswap.
- Check with local departments of sanitation: Many cities and states offer e-cycling programs now, and many of them will even pick up your old computers and TVs, among other things, from your house directly. All you have to do is probably lift the darn thing to the curb. Other times, you might have to haul stuff down to the dump, but it will be taken cared of beyond that point.
A few things to remember before donating an old electronic product. Don't forget to format/wipe the hard drive and restore old products to factory settings when applicable to protect yourself to identity theft.
Do you have an electronics recycling source to suggest? Or possibly one to avoid? Let us know in the TalkBack section!
[Image via Recycle Free]