What To Do With This Old Phone?

Christmas is coming and so are new toys, so what can we do with the ones we're retiring?

Confession time: is over; Ol' LG has been replaced. 

It was a good run, and I thought of commemorating the occasion by ceremonial torching, running over it with my car, or chucking it over a bridge like they do in movies. All seem like pretty satisfying options—but aren't the most environmentally conscious—so I looked into possible solutions.

Maybe you've got some electronics lying around the house, too. Instead of taking them to a nearby landfill, here are some things to consider:

  1. It's probably not trash

    Unless it's pre-1995, of course. If you bought an old computer in the last decade or so, check to see if it can be upgraded or refurbished; you might make or save some cash. In Manassas, a place like Potomac eScrap will buy anything from power supplies, batteries, printers and scanners, to routers, answering machines, VHS players and even insulated wire (hello, Winter Cleaning, anyone?).

  2. One man's trash could be a woman's treasure

    Want a more fuzzy feeling? Battered women shelters in particular are always accepting cell phones for the use in case of emergency. All charged cellular devices are required to dial 911, regardless of service or signal. Most cellular carriers offer donation drop-off at retail locations.

  3. What about the stuff no one wants?

    If it's too old or in terrible condition, bring it to a recycling facility. The Virginia Department of Environmental Equality website lists many local recycling locations (a few of which are in Chantilly). Some charge a fee, depending on the device.

  4. Future generations will thank you

    By donating, selling or recycling, you'll be keeping toxic chemicals out of the ground. Substances like lead and mercury can leak into water from old televisions, cell phones and computers.

  5. Do your grandparents a favor, too

    Those from the Depression era tend to save and reuse things until it really is time to say goodbye, so they may not feel so comfortable with newer technology. My own grandmother never made use of the Mac computer in her house because no one really taught her how use it; however, she loves the Kindle she got for Christmas last year. Small steps can help older generations connect with technology (and hopefully, by default, with you). 

Really, the best thing we can do is reduce our electronic consumption. Instead of updating gadgets every few years to the shiniest ones, consumers should take inventory of what really is still usable. Or perhaps this means spending more money on the thing you'll use for 20 years, instead of what you know you'll only use for five. You'll save yourself money and have a lot less things to dispose of in the end. 

Happy reducing, reusing and recycling this holiday season. 

Erin Gibson December 05, 2011 at 03:17 PM
What does everyone else do with their old, unwanted tech gadgets?


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