How to Easily Recycle the Old Electronics You Can’t Sell

August 28, 2019
A pile of used electronics including a laptop, headphones, mouse, and keyboard.
Damrong Rattanapong/

We’re big believers in selling your used gadgets. Your old gear is probably useful to someone, and it’s a shame for it to gather dust. But not everything can be sold, or it just might not be worth your time.

Rather than creating more trash or spending hours searching for a buyer for a $2 used gizmo, we recommend recycling your old electronics. It’s faster and easier than you might think.

Wipe Your Old Tech Before You Recycle (or Sell) It

As always, you’ll want to wipe your hardware of any personal data before recycling it. If it’s an old phone, perform a factory reset. If it’s an old computer, wipe its hard drive. You don’t want your personal data left on any device that leaves your possession.

But what if you have an old hard drive or another storage device that doesn’t work anymore? If it has private information, you’re probably better off destroying the drive rather than trying to donate or recycle it. That will ensure no identity thieves can get at your tax documents, emails, or other private data.

RELATED: How to Wipe (Securely Erase) Your Devices Before Disposing of or Selling Them

Just Donate It to One Place (Even the Broken Stuff)

A Goodwill sign in front of some trees.
Ken Wolter/

Recycling doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to perform a web search for twenty different places in town to donate all your gear. You can probably take all your old tech to somewhere like Goodwill—yes, even if it’s broken, Goodwill will take it.

Goodwill will take everything from old desktop PCs, laptops, and computer monitors to printers, scanners, smartphones, and even the Microsoft Zune. Other household electronics are accepted, too. As this Goodwill South Carolina‘s website says, “It’s all valuable to Goodwill!”. If your old gear can be refurbished and sold, it will be. If it can only be recycled, it’ll be recycled instead. You don’t have to think about it.

If you prefer another donation organization—perhaps a local one—there’s a good chance they also accept electronics. Perform a search for “electronics recycling” in your town, and you’ll find other places you can take it. Want to support local thrift stores that won’t recycle everything? Donate your best, most valuable gear to them and then donate the old, broken stuff to a larger thrift store or electronics recycler instead. Even Best Buy offers electronics recycling at its stores.

It’s just that simple: You can likely take all the technology you want to get rid of to a single place. That organization will find the best home for your old gear, and you won’t have to think about it.

You’ll even get a tax receipt for your trouble. (Of course, that’s only useful if you itemize your deductions.)

RELATED: Is It Worth My Time to Sell All My Used Crap?

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