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Old Gadgets Can Be Useful, Too

2011 December 27

Reposted from USA GOV

By Felicia Chou

‘Tis the season to be gushing about the new electronic gadgets you’ve received for the holidays, and figure out what to do with your old ones. Sure, you could keep them in your closet or attic, waiting for the day VHS tapes are all the rage again, or when radio-sized phones are back in style. Maybe that old TV can be used as a giant paperweight. But there are plenty of better alternatives to put your unwanted electronics to use.

I’ve had this laptop since college and believe it or not, it still works. Well, besides the fact that the touchpad and keyboard aren’t working; and I have to keep it plugged in because the battery is pretty much dead. If, like me, you don’t want to part with your old computer just yet, see if you can upgrade the hardware or software to put it on par with your new gadgets. In my case, I would replace the battery and the keyboard, and plug in a new wireless mouse. Or, after clearing out your personal data, you can donate working electronics to those who need them.

The next best thing is to recycle your old gadgets, but before you start carting loads of electronics to your nearest electronics collection program or drop-off point, check if they’re working with a third-party certified recycler. You’re probably thinking, third-party what? Well, companies that recycle electronics can be certified by outside organizations (like R2 Solutions and eStewards) and regularly audited to make sure that your electronics will be managed safely. That way, you can rest assured that your old gadget is being recycled in a way that is protective of our health and the environment. Check out R2 Solutions and e-Stewards® for a list of certified recyclers.

So, why shouldn’t you just let your electronics sit at home and collect dust, or worse, get thrown away in the garbage?

Electronics are made of precious metals and materials, like gold, copper, and glass. If they’re thrown away, all that precious material that required a lot of energy to mine and manufacture will go to waste. When you recycle your electronics, those precious materials can be used in other products, such as electric cars or watches. You’ll also be preventing the pollution that would have been caused by having to mine and manufacture raw materials. In fact, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power over 3,000 US homes for a year.

So while you’re having a blast trying out all the new features on your shiny new gadgets, just remember to put your old ones to good use. I, for one, will be looking forward to the new battery and keyboard to keep my beloved laptop working for as long as I can.

About the author: Felicia Chou is a Program Analyst in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery at EPA. Find out more about what you can do to green your holiday season at http://

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. Sharon Ford permalink
    December 27, 2011

    Always interested in ways to reuse, recycle, upcycle, ecycle, etc.

  2. kiyohisa tanada permalink
    December 28, 2011

    In Japan, there is “an interesting thing”.
    Japan spreads “the Internet”, and “the smartphone is common, too”.
    At “the old house”, a telephone wire of “the analog network” still goes.
    If it is an old telephone for exclusive use of the old “analog network ,”
    If electricity goes through “a telephone wire ,”
    “A call” is possible without “a power supply to a telephone”.
    I know it, and there uses them in “analog network” now.
    It was the story of the analog network telephone which “resisted a blackout”.

  3. Ted from buy heart rate monitor permalink
    December 29, 2011

    I do personally prefer to go to shops, which provide the possibility to upgrade your old phone or other gadget as you are can save money and at the same time you are getting new gadget.Or just first sale your old one on the auction like eBay and get your self new one .There is also in big shopping centers small shops where you are can always sale your old items and get some cash for it.

  4. permalink
    October 13, 2012

    Wow this is really well put. When my electronics tend to get old, I always end up putting them online or in a garage sale. Great post! I will social bookmark this if you dont mind. I would like more people to actually read this helpful information. Thanks

  5. Robert permalink
    May 18, 2013

    You can also use your old smartphone just as mp3 player or use it in the kitchen to read cooking recipes on the internet.

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