How to Dispose of Old Gadgets

Our tech gadgets are wonderful until it comes time to dispose of them. Then what do you do?

Here’s a quick guide on wiping your personal information from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and disposing of it properly.

Wipe your device clean

You probably have photos, documents, spreadsheets, and other personal information you don’t want to lose, let alone share with others. First, back up all your data to the cloud.

Then, after you back up everything important, it’s time to wipe your device clean of data and applications. Each manufacturer has different steps. Here’s how you can wipe everything from the most popular devices:

  • Android — Open your Settings app and then go to System > AdvancedReset options. Choose the Erase all data (factory reset) option.
  • IOS — Again, open your Settings app and then go to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • Windows — Go to Settings and click on Update & Security. From there, select Recovery, then under the Reset this PC, go to Get started. Choose the “Remove all personal files” as you reset your laptop.
  • Chromebook or Chrome tablet — Go to Settings and find Advanced, then choose Powerwash which wipes your tablet or computer clean.
  • Mac — While it’s more involved, it’s still do-able. You need to power off your computer and restart the operating system. As it boots up, press Options+Command+R. Wait until you see a spinning globe, then release the keys. From there, choose Reinstall macOS followed by Continue. The macOS will guide you through with on-screen instructions. Make sure you select to erase your main hard drive.

Dispose of your device safely

Electronic devices can contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, heavy metals, and more. In addition, batteries that power most electronics can potentially explode. To protect the environment and reduce toxic waste in landfills, it’s best to get rid of your device safely.

You have options for disposal. You can gift it to a friend or family member who can put it to use. Or you can sell it on Craigslist or E-Bay (or any online platform of your choice).

Some retailers will take your old device as a trade-in on a new one. For example, Best Buy, Verizon, and other retailers give you money for your trade-in, depending on its condition. Best Buy also takes in your unwanted devices and recycles or disposes of them environmentally safely.

Google, Samsung, and Apple have recycling programs and will take your old devices, or you can find an electronics recycling program in your area. Simply go to E-Cycling Central’s website and enter your address to find the closest facility.

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