TMCnet Feature
December 07, 2021

Stop Throwing These 5 Tech Products Away Now



The tech explosion of the last few decades has been both a blessing and a curse for humanity. On one hand, tech products like smartphones and computers allow us to work more efficiently and to have more fun than would have ever been possible during our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. On the other hand, the gadgets in your life invariably become cheaper and more powerful with each passing year – and you’re going to want to upgrade.



That’s the downside of the tech boom. Billions of people around the world buy new phones, computers and other gadgets every year, and that creates a non-stop flow of electronic waste that pollutes your local landfills or ends up in gigantic dumps in developing nations. In the United States alone, we discard more than 2 million tons of electronic waste per year – and even when those items are taken to e-waste facilities, there’s no guarantee that the discarded items will be processed in a way that’s safe for workers and for the environment.

So, how can you avoid contributing to the growing e-waste crisis? The solution is really twofold. You probably have items that you currently discard simply by throwing them away in your regular trash. Those items need to be taken to recyclers or e-waste facilities. Knowing that recyclers don’t always process all waste in the most responsible way, though, reducing your electronic waste is also a matter of finding new uses for the things you’d have otherwise discarded. Thankfully, old gadgets are often more useful than you might realize.

Do you want to become a better steward of the planet? Stop throwing away these 5 tech products now.

Disposable Vapes

Do you vape? If you do, there’s a good chance that you use disposable vapes. Disposable e-cigarettes have exploded in popularity in recent years, both because they’ve come down in price and because their flavor selection has increased considerably.

The environmental drawback of disposable vapes, though, is that people often throw them away in their regular trash – and each one contains a lithium battery that will eventually become a groundwater pollutant. If you want to discard your disposable vapes properly, your best bet is to check with the manufacturer first. Some manufacturers of disposable vapes do have their own in-house recycling programs. If that’s not available, bring your used devices to an e-waste facility.

Batteries

You’re probably already aware of the fact that switching from disposable alkaline batteries to rechargeable batteries can go a long way toward reducing the toxic waste your household produces. Whether you primarily use single-use or rechargeable batteries, though, what you may not know is that battery recycling has become a very big business in recent years. There aren’t enough materials available to meet the market’s huge demand, and one reason for that is because so many people are throwing their batteries away instead of recycling them.

Thankfully, recycling small tech items such as batteries, printer cartridges and mobile phones is incredibly easy because major stores like Target (News - Alert) and Walmart have collection boxes for those items. Just drop your used batteries in the battery collection box at your favorite store, and you’re all set.

TVs and Monitors

Over the past few years, the proliferation of inexpensive big-screen TVs has driven many people across the world to upgrade their old televisions – and this is an area where bringing your old gadget to an e-waste facility might not be as responsible as you think it is. That’s because a recycling facility may simply put the item through an acid wash that strips the recoverable metals before sending the remaining waste to a developing nation. That’s not really a solution to the e-waste problem.

Do you have an old TV that still works? Here are a few ideas for extending its usefulness.

  • Move it to a child’s bedroom or give it to a friend or family member.
  • Set it up as an external display for your notebook computer. A 1080p TV can be an excellent computer monitor.
  • Do you have an older TV set with a CRT that still works? Contact your local arcade and see who maintains their games. Functioning CRTs aren’t easy to find, and they’re useful for refurbishing old arcade cabinets.

Phones and Tablets

There’s a reason why smartphone manufacturers like Apple (News - Alert) and Samsung have become so enormous – it’s because they refresh their devices each year, and the improvements made to the new devices are usually just compelling enough to convince consumers to ditch their old devices and upgrade. This is a case, though, in which disposing of your old device responsibly is incredibly easy.

Most older phones and tablets – even those that are several generations old – will still connect to networks and run most apps. Moreover, there are plenty of people out there who don’t want to spend a lot of money on mobile devices and are perfectly happy to save money buying previous-generation devices instead. Securely wipe your device and put it on eBay (News - Alert); you might be surprised to learn how much your old phone or tablet is still worth. If you have a device that doesn’t work, a company may still buy it for refurbishment and resale.

Hard Drives and SSDs

There has never been a better time to be a computer owner. Today’s computers do more with each passing hardware generation – and with the exception of video cards, they also cost less than ever for the performance they provide. Every time you buy a new computer, though, you’ve got to figure out what to do with the old one. Eventually, you’re going to reach a point where all of your friends and family members are perfectly happy with the computers they have and don’t need your used machines. What do you do at that point?

The most profitable way to dispose of an old computer is by parting it out and selling the components on eBay. Components like processors, motherboards, memory and particularly video cards will fetch surprisingly high prices – and once you’ve parted an old computer out, you’re left with an empty case that’s easy to recycle.

The one thing that you won’t necessarily want to sell when you part an old computer out, however, is the storage device. That’s because the recovery and theft of your personal data is still theoretically possible even after formatting and repeated zero-filling. So, what can you do with your old storage devices instead of throwing them away? Here are a few ideas.

  • Buy a box that can accept your old hard drives and convert them into a network-attached storage (NAS) volume. Store your favorite movies on the NAS for streaming over your household network.
  • Use your old hard drives for storing your personal pictures, videos and other important files. Although you may already use a cloud-based backup solution for those files, you shouldn’t assume that cloud-based backups are 100-percent safe. Your critical data is safest if it’s stored in multiple places simultaneously.
  • Use your old hard drives for mining cryptocurrency such as Chia. Chia uses storage space – not processing power – for mining, and you can accumulate the currency with an internet-connected storage device of any capacity.


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