What to Do With Technology and Appliances You Don’t Need
by Deb Powers
When Tech Republic writer Lindsey Gilpin went looking for a charging cable at her parents’ home a few years ago, she found a surprise: a cache of nearly a dozen old cell phones, Blackberries and other outdated, unused tech sitting in a box, waiting to be recycled. Lindsay’s parents aren’t unusual. Cell phone providers make it easy to upgrade to a new phone. Giving your old phone a new home? Not so much.
It isn’t just old mobile phones, either. All over the country, old laptops, cellphones and tablets — as well as unused household appliances — are sitting around taking up space, or worse, ending up in landfills. In fact, so many old electronics end up in landfills that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has coined a phrase for it: e-waste, short for electronic waste. In addition to phones and laptops, e-waste includes televisions, old VCRs, DVD players, stereos, copiers, fax machines, tablets, computers and just about anything that has a circuit board. Yep, that includes your washing machine and coffeemaker.
Check out why getting rid of your unwanted devices and appliances is so complicated, and learn how the Curb-It app makes it as easy as 1-2-3.
Why E-Waste Is a Problem
According to a United Nations estimate, less than a quarter of all U.S. e-waste is recycled, which means up to 75 percent of old devices end up in landfills. That’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen — or already in the process of happening. What happens when e-waste ends up in the trash stream?
- Hazardous chemicals, like beryllium and mercury, can be released into groundwater or the air.
- Lithium-ion batteries — the standard for most rechargeable batteries — can cause fires when they are compacted with other waste.
On the other hand, if these things can be recycled, here’s how the world benefits:
- According to the EPA, recycling 1 million laptops saves as much energy as it takes to power 3,500 homes for a year.
- Every million cell phones recycled recovers 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium.
Being a Responsible Recycler Is Complicated and Expensive
It shouldn’t be hard to recycle all those items, but it is. The EPA says you should delete all your personal information from any devices, remove any batteries to recycle separately, and then find the appropriate place to recycle your device or appliance. That’s where it gets really tricky.
Some Cities Only Accept E-Waste Once or Twice a Year
In the meantime, your old devices take up space in your home that you could put to better use.
Cities With Curbside Recycling Often Don’t Allow Electronics in the Bins
Trying to include them in your trash or recycling bin can land you with a fine.
Many Cities Charge (a Lot) to Take Away Your Electronics and Appliances
That can get really expensive, especially if you own a business that has to recycle a lot of old devices, or are a landlord trying to do an apartment cleanout.
Finding the “Appropriate Place“ to Recycle Can Involve Hours of Research and More Expense
A lot of electronics companies will take your old devices when you upgrade, but that often means sending for a sticker or box to ship them in, wiping them, packaging them and shipping them. While some charities do accept old computers, laptops and devices, that involves researching to find them and following their instructions to get your device ready to donate.
How Curb-It Makes Your Recycling Life Easier
Curb-It is an eco-friendly, responsible solution to finding new homes for your unwanted electronics and appliances. With the Curb-It app, donating and recycling your old devices and appliances is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Take a photo of the item(s) you want to donate or recycle and upload it to the app. Curb-It works with local removal companies in most major metro areas. All of the Curb-It Haulers are background-checked and insured. When you post your job, local companies post their competitive bids, so you get their best prices.
- Review bids from device and appliance removal companies near you. Compare the bids by price, star reviews and number of jobs they’ve completed, and award the job to the hauler that meets your needs best.
- Pay for the job when it’s complete. When the job is finished, your payment will complete — and you’ll have more room for living.
When you choose Curb-It to help you declutter, you can be assured that all of your old devices will go where they’ll do the most good and the least damage. Curb-It’s registered Haulers will choose the best option: donation, upcycling or recycling. The landfill is always their last option, so you can feel good about recycling responsibly.
Best of all, Curb-It has options that suit every situation. Whether you’re simply decluttering a room or need a service as a business partner, Curb-It will work with you to create the perfect plan for your needs. Need more information? Check out the FAQ page and get started today. All you have to lose is your clutter.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer who specializes in home, education and lifestyle topics. She draws on her experiences as a teacher, mother, grandmother and all-around creative spirit to help others achieve their own goals.