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What To Do With Your Old Electronics

If you have a stack of old electronics, you might not be sure what to do with them. And when you upgrade your phone, what do you with the old one? Find out in this What To Do With Your Old Electronics post.

For more ways to stretch your dollar, check out all of our frugal posts.

Three old cell phones with the words "What To Do With Your Old Electronics" digitally written on top.

Pete and I both use our cell phones until they’re completely useless. The last time I upgraded mine was because I would (literally) charge it three times a day to keep a charge. And that’s after keeping it on low power mode all day. I did that for months until my phone got too old to update its operating system. I lived with that for a while until I couldn’t update any apps anymore because they weren’t compatible. 

The last time Pete upgraded is because his phone just stopped charging. First it was just the port that didn’t work, so a wireless charger was fine. And then, suddenly, the wireless charging option stopped too.

Electronics don’t last forever, but it would be nice if they did.

So, instead of having a phone that lasts a decade, I have a box on the bottom shelf of my desk, filled with old electronics. There are old devices, chargers, a ton of wires that maybe go to nothing, and at least one old mp3 player. They just live in that box now.

Sometimes I pull out my old iPhones to grab photos off them, so at least those get used as gigantic SD cards. The other electronics are just paperweights. But yet, I keep them.

Don’t be like me. Purge yourself of your old electronics. As the saying goes: Do as I say, not as I do. I put together a list of things you can do with your old electronic devices. Hopefully it helps you part with your old tech (and maybe get a little extra money for those devices that are just taking up space in the junk drawer).

Earth Day is a great day to teach your kids about sustainability. Get 5 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day At Home in this post.

We usually think about getting rid of our old electronics when we’re spring cleaning or when it’s Earth Day.

If all the Earth Day chatter about making less waste and recycling got you to this post, you’ll love our Ways To Celebrate Earth Day At Home post too.

What To Do With Your Old Electronics

Affiliate links are included in this post and Drugstore Divas may make a small commission if you use them.

An iPhone opened to the app store.

Gift them

A few years ago, Pete’s cell phone screen cracked. It was just awful. The more he tried to use it, the more the liquid crystals started leaking out of the LCD screen. It was horrible and the phone became completely unusable. And, even worse, we had 2.5 months left on his loan agreement for that phone. In theory, we could have just paid it off in bulk, but for the principle of it, we didn’t want that.

Luckily, he had been gifted an old cell phone from his dad years before that.

That cell phone was old, really old, but he was still able to use it to text and make phone calls. And that got him through those few months before he could upgrade.

If you have an old phone, hang onto it for a friend. Someone’s gonna need it.

A phone open to the Alltrails app.

Use old phones for music

A long time ago, I got a phone for review on the blog. We had service on it for a month before canceling it. We ended up living in a dead zone for the service provider. So we could use it on WiFi, but that was it.

Instead of just adding it to our box of old electronics after the service contract ended, Pete added a ton of music to it. He used to connect it to a Bluetooth speaker while we were at the farmers market and played music without draining the battery on his actual phone.

So, instead of going out and purchasing a new music player, you can use an old phone as one. And, if you can grab WiFi, you can use it to stream music online as well.

A square Bluetooth speaker plugged into the wall.

Donate them

If you have an old tablet, laptop, or phone, you can donate them. Be sure to clean all of your personal information from the electronics, then donate them.

You can call your local schools or senior centers to see if they will take any handheld electronic donations. If you can’t find any local charities to donate to, you can Google and national charities that will accept donations of consumer electronics, then find out how to send your products to them. Some will offer a free shipping label and some will ask that you cover shipping charges.

If you have an old television that you need to get rid of, Habitat For Humanity and other similar organizations will take it. The only exceptions are tube televisions. No local charity that I know of will take that type of old TV.

A woman sitting at a desk, using a laptop.

Use them for parts

My brother built his last few computers using parts from older computers. And Pete actually took the hard drive out of one of his old laptops to use as an external hard drive.

Personally, I don’t know how to do any of that. It’s all way beyond my understanding. But if you know more about computers than I do, or if you have an IT friend who knows a few things, you can salvage any working parts.

A hand holding a cell phone with medicine and tissues nearby.

Recycle them

You aren’t supposed to throw away any electronics. Instead, you need to recycle them.

As easy as it would be to just throw it in a dumpster and be done with it, that’s not how it works. Garbage pickup — even bulk pickup — won’t haul those away for you.

There’s a good chance you have a local recycling center or hazmat facility where you can drop off electronic waste. You can easily Google the drop-off locations closest to your zip code and bring your old electronic products there.

Those locations may charge you a fee to dispose of your electronic equipment though. So, you may want to hang onto your items until your town has a free dump week.

Our county’s dump sites have a free dump week every spring around Earth Day and another every fall. Residents can drop off items like electronics, latex paint, florescent light bulbs, used cooking oil, household and rechargeable batteries, and a bunch of other old stuff that isn’t supposed to go in the trash. That’s the best place to take your items if you can store them until a free dump week because you don’t have to pay.

The outside of a Best Buy store.

You might also look at your local Best Buy store. You can recycle up to three items per household per day, regardless of where you bought them. Best Buy will take everything from old computers and tablets to ink and toner cartridges. So that’s really convenient. More details here.

If you don’t live near any Best Buy retail stores, the chain has a mail-in program where you can send products to Best Buy for recycling.

A hand holding open a Kindle device.

Sell them

Pete goes through phones more often than I do, so when he needs a new phone, we go to Amazon and look for unlocked, refurbished Android phones. You can find a ton of great phones at a great discount.

That’s part of Amazon’s electronics trade in program. You send in a little information about your electronic item (cell phones, video game consoles, accessories, etc.). Once Amazon accepts your item, you send it to Amazon and Amazon will recycle and refurbish it — then sell it, of course. You get a discount on your next electronics purchase, plus a gift card for the assessed value. Gift cards are sent after Amazon receives your item.

An iPad playing a slot machine game.

Trade them in

If you’re buying a new device directly from your phone provider, you can trade in your old smartphone for credit towards your new one. My mom did this when she got a new phone in the winter and, besides the ridiculously long time it took to transfer her personal data from the old phone to the new one, it was a pretty painless process.

Plus, she got a discount towards her new phone and didn’t have to deal with properly recycling her old phone. So that’s an easy way to get rid of your older devices and get some credit for them.

You can also head to your local Best Buy store with your electronics and take part in its trade-in program. You’ll get a Best Buy gift card that you can use towards a purchase of a new product.

Which of these things to do with your old gadgets works best for you? Let us know in the comments.