You probably know all about the three R’s that we learned in elementary school — reuse, reduce, recycle. Recycling is one of the biggest ways we can make a positive impact on our environment. It prevents plastic from entering our oceans, keeps materials out of the overgrowing landfills, and reduces our use of greenhouse gasses that pollute our air. However, unlike a water bottle or plastic bag, you may not know how to recycle your old electronics.

If you’re still holding on to the cellphone you had ten years ago because you never knew what to do with it, you’re not alone. It feels wrong to just… throw it away. However, with technology moving as light speed, electronics like cellphones, laptops, tablets, and even headphones get phased out so much faster than they used to, which means you can find yourself with a pile of electronic waste (e-waste) that you don’t know what to do with. According to the smartphone recycling company, Decluttr, “Approximately 57.4 million metric tons of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2021.” And that number isn’t slowing down any time soon. As we continue to phase through cellphones quicker and quicker, e-waste builds more and more, filling our landfills and leaching chemicals into the ground. And if they’re burned, those chemicals are released into the air, contributing to global warming.

The good news is these electronics can be recycled just like paper and plastic? Recycling is especially important for things like batteries, that can be hazardous if simply thrown away.

The first step is to make sure your devices are wiped of any personal information (this applies to phones, computers, tablets, etc.) by performing a factory reset (just make sure you have everything you want saved). From then on, you have a few options. If its in good enough shape, you can resell the device to be reused. There’s plenty of companies, like Decluttr, that can help you with that process. Many cellphone companies allow you to trade in your old device and receive a discount on your new one. But if you really just want to get rid of it, try getting a hold of Call2Recycle, one of the biggest recycling programs in the U.S. It allows you to bring e-waste to places like Best Buy or Home Depot to recycle at no cost to you. Goodwill also offers a recycling program.

As for batteries, they are actually considered hazardous waste in the state of California, and have to be dealt with appropriately. Luckily, it’s not too big of a deal to recycle batteries. Call2Recycle has an e-waste disposal directory where you can search for the closest place to bring your old batteries and other e-waste.

Yes, it takes a little more effort than simply tossing your old headphones or cellphone or batteries in the trash, but think of all the good you’ll be doing our environment by taking the small extra step to recycle your e-waste. We all live on this earth, and have to treat it with kindness!

Do you recycle your e-waste? Let us know about your experience in the comments. We always love to hear from you!

Cleo Egnal
Tagged: how-to