Old Tech, New Life

Written by Marc Enzor

Updated: February 21, 2023

Old Tech, New Life

It’s not a crime to want the latest phone, laptop, tablet, or gaming system. They are made to be bought, and therefore consumers ought to be able to enjoy them guilt-free. Yet Earth-friendly techies everywhere are concerned about what humanity’s endless appetite for electronics will do to a planet with rapidly dwindling resources and quickly piling mountains of refuse. With new reports of ecological damage rolling in every day, that’s hard to dispute.

Happily, the old iPhone doesn’t have to become landfill when you purchase the new one. Ditto with your laptops and games, batteries, circuit boards, computer towers … even that outdated Super Nintendo that you love but just don’t need any more. These days there are plenty of places that will take your old junk and refurbish it or scrap it for valuable parts. Here’s the good news: you can get paid for it too. Think of it as Cash For Clunkers, but for your electronic equipment.

Those who are looking for dough should try Gazelle or TechForward. The former will receive your used Apple products or smart phones and inspect them before sending you payment based on market value. The latter has a nifty payment rate based on a flat percentage which goes down over time: the longer it’s been since an item was purchased, the lower the value. If you’re looking to upgrade, do it within 6 months for 50% returns.

NextWorth and Glyde are also sites worth exploring, especially since Glyde allows you to buy as well. If none of these fit the bill, of course, Craigslist and eBay’s Instantsale are also reliable methods of getting cash for your old goods, provided they’re still in great condition.

If you’re not too concerned about the financial side, there are also plenty of places you can donate your old electronics to. GoodWill always accepts functional electronics, and BestBuy takes old cell phones, ink cartridges, and rechargeable batteries. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Check sites like EcoSquid and Earth911 for general recycling help in your area.

Should it seem easier to just dump the old when it’s time for the new, don’t forget the environmental impacts. In addition to a wide variety of larger components, modern technology utilizes substances known as rare earth elements. Their name notwithstanding, rare earth elements are not so much rare as they are difficult and potentially hazardous to extract, so it’s best to conserve them.

One of the best ways to do that is to buy electronics that have lasting value in the first place. That way, when it’s time to replace them they will have good resale potential, and are more likely to be reused. Get on Amazon or eBay to price goods out ahead of time, or head to BuyBackWorld to see what your device is worth before trying to sell it (after which you can sell it to them if you want).

So next time you upgrade your phone plan or buy that sweet laptop you’ve had your eye on, first consider what to do with what you’ve already got. A little effort will ensure that the equipment stays out of landfills and oceans, gets a second life, and often is sold at a much lower price, making it affordable for needier individuals, schools, and the like. Best of all, with your strings cut in an environmentally friendly manner, you are free to head out and get that new laptop any time you want.


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