10 Things You're Throwing Away, But Should Be Recycling

10 Things You're Throwing Away, But Should Be Recycling

Jason Yang
Jun 17, 2013

What to do with obsolete or older home electronics, appliances, and personal devices after an upgrade? Often, yesterday's tech find their way to be stored in a basement, garage, closet, or attic. Others are simply thrown out with the garbage or left curbside. But many tech and home appliances can see another day if taken to the proper places for recycling or refurbishing... 

The EPA provides a helpful resource to locate local places to recycle tech and electronic waste. Consider the following statistics:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.

  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Best Buy offers a complete list of what they will accept in most stores for recycling. Office Depot charges a small fee for their tech recycling services. Check with your local government to see if they offer free electronic recycling services, such as the Montgomery County program here in Maryland.

Recycle Old Cell phones
With newer models being regularly marketed every few months, outdated personal devices like cell phones and music players are often stockpiled into storage after being replaced. Consider donating an older phone to a good cause such as Cell Phones for Soldiers or Hopeline (for victims of domestic violence).

Recycle Old Ink Cartridges
Printer ink cartridge need to be regularly replaced, but old ones are usually discarded right into the trash. According to Cartridge Fundraising, over 13 cartridges are thrown away every second in the United States. Many retailers will offer you a discount if you bring in your old cartridge for recycling, or provide recycling bins for drop off.

Recycle Old Batteries
Don't let battery acid leak from landfills and into soil or groundwater! TLC talks about the problem with tossing batteries out in the trash, and we recently shared resources about safe battery disposal.

Recycle Computers
Eventually a computer transitions from just being "old and slow" to the designation of truly being antiquated and need to be retired. Computers usually contain a mix of recyclable and hazardous waste materials, and should not be thrown into the trash. Some manufacturers like Apple offer to pay for the value of your older machine with a gift card or simply safely dispose/recycle it, making recycling an old machine worth the time and effort.

Recycle Laptops
Remember laptops use batteries, so disposing them right into the trash is not recommended. Consider dropping off old laptops to retailers who will take them in to safely dismantle, recycle, and process. Apple Retail Stores will take in any Apple branded device's battery; Best Buy will do the same.

Recycle Printers
Often times an old printer is just tossed out in the trash. Instead, consider taking it to a recycling center, while remembering to remove the old cartridges beforehand for proper recycling as well. Also donating working models to Goodwill or the Salvation Army may offer the opportunity for printers to see another day.

Recycle Computer Monitors
It used to be big large glass CRT monitors were the standard. But they're now as outdated as tube televisions. Take old CRT monitors to retailers like Best Buy or local E-waste recycling centers for safe disposal (for example, Los Angeles offers scheduled Household Hazardous/Electronics Waste Collection Events).

Recycle Televisions
Just like computer monitors, older TV sets are being phased out with flat screen upgrades. All that glass and the cathode ray tube within can wreak environmental havoc when tossed into a landfill. Owners of older Sony and LG televisions can dispose of their sets at Waste Management locations, up to five per day at no charge. Waste Management also accepts other Sony and LG electronics, and TV accessories.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Instead of throwing old CFL bulbs into the trashcan, send away for a Think Green CFL Recycling Kit. Order online and a packing box is sent right to the home for safe recycling, avoiding hazardous mercury from leaching into soil and ground water.

Recycle Household Appliances
With the boon in popularity of stainless steel appliances, last generation's appliances are increasingly finding their way into landfills at an astonishing rate. Make sure to follow guidelines for safe disposal of refrigerated appliances as hazardous components; refrigerant can be quite harmful. GE lists home appliance donation centers, and the Energy Star government site offers additional old refrigerator recycling services.

More recycling resources:

(Images: Shutterstock/Crisferra, Gregory Han; Shutterstock/Lebin Yuriy, Shutterstock/Michael Zysman, Shutterstock/dwphotos)

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