January marks a time of new beginnings and resolutions. The Christmas shopping season often brings with it new technologies to replace your old ones. So the question is, just what are you going to do with that old tech?

Sadly, most electronics and technology equipment that no longer has a home winds up in a landfill. Not only is this bad for the technology—nobody likes getting dumped in a landfill—it’s also extremely bad for the environment. Electronics contain all kinds of chemicals, such as mercury, lead, and PCBs that can leech into the groundwater and cause a whole host of problems.

Considering repairing a device when it stops working instead of buying something new. And, as always, shop around! Just because one place tells you it will be $200 to fix the screen on your smartphone it doesn’t mean that someone else can’t do just as good a job for $100.

If you’ve upgraded to something new, consider your options for the old tech. Sell it, give it away, or donate it to a good cause. For example, not-for-profit agencies are always looking for older computers to use.

However, before the device leaves your hands, make sure to securely wipe your information. Also, remember to remove memory cards from cell phones or digital cameras. This is for the benefit of protecting your private information, and giving you savings. Why buy another SD card when you already have one?

For the do-it-yourself types, consider what you can do with that old tech. An old laptop could become a dedicated recipe machine for the kitchen, or even a digital photo frame. An old smartphone could become a remote control, or a portable media device.

If you want to ditch the old tech, consider bringing it to a “big box” electronics retailer, such as Futureshop or Staples. Many locations will take back old electronics such as cell phones or printer cartridges and send them to be recycled or disposed of properly.

Many cell phone carriers will take back old cell phones in exchange for credit that can be used towards the purchase of a new phone.

So as you look around and see all your older tech lying about, consider some of the above options instead of just tossing it in the trash. The Earth will thank you, and the landfills will avoid looking like Island of Misfit Tech Toys.


This article first appeared in Memorial University’s student newspaper: The Muse http://themuse.ca/2013/01/16/old-tech-new-ideas/

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