How to Recycle Electronics and Protect Your Information

Folks, it’s a new year! We may be in the thick of winter but bathing suits are already on the racks. Cringe! That means spring cleaning is not far behind! So while you get in the mindset of “out with the old, in with the new,” it’s time to address our tech items. What do I do with that old computer or outdated cell phone? Where should it go? Is it safe to throw everything away? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to recycle electronics.

old computers
Don’t let your old tech items pile up. Take our advice on how to recycle electronics!

Before Asking How to Recycle Electronics, We Must Protect the Data

After you’re finally ready to part with those trusty relics of tech past, it’s time to protect your data before you part with it. You don’t want to just shutdown a device and toss it into the recycling bin. Take a little time now so recycling your electronics doesn’t give you a big headache later.  If you are getting rid of a cell phone you will want to take steps to ensure your personal information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

  • Obviously you’ll first want to backup the data you want to save, be it on a phone, tablet, laptop or PC. For more modern smart phones without a removable SIM card, you’ll want to remove association from your cloud accounts.
  • We suggest encrypting your device next. Even if someone gets their hands on it, they will have an unbearable time getting to the data.
  • Next consult your owner’s manual (or the Internet) to perform a factory reset.
  • To add another layer of protection you can add dummy info to the phone, like generic photos and contact info and then perform another factory reset, making it even more difficult to uncover whatever fragments of your data are left.

If you are a Mr. Robot type, you could immerse it water, fry it in an old microwave, or smash it. Of course, we are still trying to recycle the item so that may be overkill.

As for modern tablets and other devices without a removable hard drive the same suggestions apply. If your device runs an operating system you can reinstall please do so.  For older phones, removing the SIM card and doing a factory reset should suffice.  As for older PCs with a removable hard drive, make your life easy and just retain that drive and recycle the rest. You can destroy the hard drive in any way you choose. The how to recycle electronics aspect doesn’t apply to the hard drive. Go hog wild!

Where to Recycle My E-Waste

There are many places to recycle your tech these days and luckily there’s little effort involved on your part. Winning! Most local governments have programs in place to collect your unwanted electronics which helps to answer the “how to recycle electronics” question. Just consult your city or county’s website and you are guaranteed to find instructions on where to take your items. Most have monthly recycling events or a permanent facility where you can dispose of computers, cell phones, printers, routers, modems, televisions, VCRs, cell phones, fax machines, stereos, electronic games and more. These days, large companies are offering recycling services as well. Stores like Best Buy, Staples, Target and more are going green and generating good PR as a result. You drop off your items and they do the rest. Just consult their websites or give them a call and find out what tech they’d be happy to take off your hands. Tech manufacturers are also getting in on the recycling game. Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. all offer some type of product recycling You can also search online for nonprofit organizations that will recycle your electronic goods. Just think, once you know how to recycle your electronics you’ll soon have much more space to use your brand new tech! Oh, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the size of those landfills. Happy computing!

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