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How to Recycle Old Electronics

Do you have old cell phones sitting in drawers?  Or maybe there’s that dusty computer sitting in the basement?  And don’t forget that tube TV that weighs about as much as an elephant.  Old electronics hardly seem to be something people would hang on to but it is one of the most common things I see when visiting homes.

Easy Ways to Recycle Electronics

The problem with allowing old electronics to take-up prime real estate in our homes is that they do more damage than just the physical space they use.  Think back to the last time you thought about that old laptop you still have.  What feeling did you have? What thoughts came to mind?  Most internal dialog about old electronics goes something like this:

“I should really do something with that laptop?  Where can I take it?  I can’t just throw it in the garbage.  But what about all my personal information on it?  Wonder if someone gets a hold of it and steals my identity? I have no clue. Maybe I can sell it? But no one wants an old computer and then there’s still my personal info.  Oh well, I’ll think about it another day.”

Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.  So many people have this conversation with themselves about the same old laptop year after year.  The problem with stored electronics seems so trivial yet it’s incredible easy to solve… once you learn what you need to do.  This is where The Decluttering Queen comes to save the day.

How to recycle old electronics the earth-friendly way.

Here’s everything you need to know about recycling old electronics….

Why do we hold onto old electronics?

It seems so illogical, so impractical, so stupid to keep old electronics lying around the house.  They serve no purpose.  They are often clunky and heavy.  And they are a huge eye sore.  But yet we still feel ourselves compelled to keep them.  There are three main reasons why we hold onto these ancient tools:

  1. We don’t know how to recycle them properly.

  2. We are scared that someone will steal our personal information off them.

  3. We want to have a backup in case we lose or break our new one.

Fear, lack of knowledge, and a feeling of scarcity are often the motives behind keeping these relics far past their expiration dates.  While these are all valid and common reasons, we don’t need to let them continue to control our decisions.  We can release the unsettling emotions we have and empower ourselves to finally tackle the problem.

Ways to Safely Recycle Old Electronics


Computers and laptops are often the hardest to let of go since they often contain personal and sensitive information.  Be rest-assured that registered recycling programs have strict guidelines on how they handle their received items.  Some people will also go through the extra step of physically destroying their hard drive with a hammer. You can learn more about that here.  Monitors should also be recycled properly.


It seems like often the ink cartridges for a printer are more expensive than buying a whole new printer itself.  I know many people that have bought new printers because it was cheaper than purchasing new ink.  While you may be saving a couple bucks, you are also left with an old printer that’s useless.  The first way to combat this problem is by researching the cost of replacement ink before you invest in a new printer.  Or you can consider buying refilled cartridges although they will often not last as long as new ones.  Many stores offer a discount on a new printer when bringing in an old one to get recycled.  For example, Best Buy offers 15% when you bring in any old printer for recycling.


Heavy, old tube TV’s are the worst.  They are heavy and often collecting dust somewhere in the depths of your garage or basement. Fortunately many can be recycled for a nominal fee depending on the size of the screen.  You can find a list of registered E-Cycle collectors through your state government website.  Flat screens are still popular and often can be sold or gifted to someone who could use them.  Or consider donating them to a nursing home or other residential facility.

Cell Phones

Cell phones seem to be the latest disposable commodity.  Ever two years we are enticed by our phone carriers to get the latest phone.  But what happens to the old ones?  This is one circumstance in which keeping the old one can provide a free replacement should you lose or break your new one.  You could also sell your old phone on sites like or even locally.  Or donate your old phones and accessories to a nonprofit such as Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine. This organization takes the profit from the used cell phones and provides cash grants to domestic violence organizations across the United States.

Want to swipe your old phone? Here is an easy guide on how to delete everything off an iPhone. Have a Samsung Galaxy?  Use this guide.   If your phone is really old, try searching online your particular make and model’s swiping instructions.

Cords & Accessories

Cords, headphones, and mouses are just as important to recycle as any other type of electronic.  Places like Best Buy often have drop zones right in their lobby – you don’t even have to go into the store!  You can also donate these to a local resale shop.  Many people living on lower incomes search these places for affordable used accessories.

Digital Media (floppy disks, USB drives, external drives)

Still have floppy disks lying around?  It can be nerve wrecking to dispose of something that might have information on it that you need.  But really how are you going to check that floppy disk?  Many people often smash their usb drives, external drives and floppy disks to destroy the information on them.  Then they take them to a safe recycle center.  These should NOT be thrown in the garbage.


Radios seem to almost be a thing of the past. If you are as old as I am, you remember those super rad double speakers that played both cassette tapes and cd’s.  Radios can be taken to recycling centers often for free.  Or maybe you need some tunes for the garage?  Kids also love to have a radio in their room to listen to music as they play.

Ipods & Tablets

Ipods and tablets can be another good source of revenue if you want to sell them to someone who doesn’t care about the age of their device.  Or many people are looking for older versions for their kids. There are places like BatteriesPlus that will replace broken or cracked screens for a nominal fee and often offer a $10 off coupon.  Ipods and tablets can also be taken to recycling centers such as Best Buy or other similar retailers.

Gaming Systems

You would be surprised at how popular retro gaming systems are. Some can fetch a pretty high price on eBay or Amazon.  You can certainly try selling them on these sites just make sure you are clear on their condition (working vs non-working, parts that are missing).  Alternatively, stores like GameStop offer trade-ins or even buy them outright from you.  Many people also enjoy introducing their kids to the “old-school” gaming systems they played in their youth.

Modems & Routers

Have you switched cable carriers more than a couple times?  If so, you may have some older routers and modems lying around.  I have had good success selling these on eBay.  You can also recycle them, often for free, at local electronic stores.  Or consider donating these to a non-profit as well.

Electronic Recycling Fundraisers

Another great way to rid yourself of old electronics and support your community is by participating in recycling fundraiser drives.  Many local organizations will partner with a registered recycling facility to sponsor a drive supporting their cause. Often a percentage of the recycling proceeds go directly to the organization.  Stay on the look out for these events or ask friends and family for suggestions.  This is a great way to safely dispose of all your electronics at once.  Keep in mind that many of these fundraisers will still have guidelines on what can and cannot be donated.

How You Can Get Started

The easiest way to free yourself of electronic clutter is by keeping up with it.  As a professional organizer, I would suggest you begin by collecting all your old electronics into one central location.  Check every nook and cranny in your home, car, and work place for those extra pieces.  Once a week, make an effort to recycle one type of electronic.  Tie it in with your errands.  Heading to Best Buy? Bring in those old cords.  Take advantage of secure recycling events.  Little steps lead to big results.

Managing your old electronics is not only beneficial to your home, but also the environment.  It is a way for you to safely dispose of those items in a responsible way.  This Earth Day make a commitment to taking care of this type of clutter so others don’t have to deal with them later.

For further questions on recycling old electronics, visit me on Facebook.  I love to connect with my readers helping them find better solutions to clearing the clutter!

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