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5 Unique Ways to Trade and Recycle Electronics

We all probably have that drawer or storage bin full of old electronics. “We might need them someday,” we say to ourselves. Here’s some truth, though: we’ll never need that old TV, or those 14 old extension cords, or your last four phones.

Be it the sunk cost fallacy, forgetfulness, or just a lack of realization, plenty of us aren’t getting the most out of our electronics. Forget sitting on them for a rainy day. When you’re done with an electronic item, make it your goal to get rid of it in a beneficial way. From donations to selling them for some extra cash, here are five unique ways to rid yourself of your old electronics. 

  1.  Use Local Services

There are many buy-back services that will pay you a bit of money for your old electronics. However, these services tend to focus more on phones, as they are easiest to resell. 

In light of that, consider selling your old electronics yourself. Mercari and eBay are two of the largest personal resale sites, but you can also keep to the local area and use Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp. These services offer a quick and easy way of listing old items and receiving local offers. Transactions are often fast and in cash, and items in great shape can fetch a tidy sum.

When handling sales yourself, always use caution. Don’t list your actual phone number. Avoid any interactions that don’t feel right. Selling items yourself is not unsafe, though, and since it cuts out the go-betweens, you can often get the highest resale value. With safety in mind, local sales can help you turn your old stuff into new cash.

  1.  Trade Your Items for Store Credit

Many items in working condition are potential sources of cash, or, at least, store credit. Old phones and tablets can often be brought back to Apple and Verizon stores. Trade-in amounts will vary, with recent items being worth more. 

Some trade-ins might give cashback. Others may take money off of your existing payment plants or provide you with store credit. This can be used for accessories, like cases or power cables.

Big box electronic stores also have trade-in programs. From phones and old video games to smartwatches and cameras, stores like Best Buy will take old electronics when you purchase a new item. You’ll then be refunded the trade-in value. This way, your old electronics are making your new electronics more affordable. It’s a great cycle! 

  1.  Donate Items to the Less Fortunate

Making money isn’t always in mind when you’re going through your old items. Sometimes, more good can be done by donating your things to those with more need. 

Old electronic items can go directly to the less fortunate. TVs that you no longer use can see a second life in retirement communities, community centers, and even kids’ clubs. The same is true with old computers, laptops, and cameras. If you found a lot of use in an item, then chances are someone else will too.

If you have kids, they might be forgetting their “old” items faster than an adult. If your kids seem to focus on a new toy or electronic gadget, then institute a “get one, give one” rule. Anytime they ask for (and receive) a new item, they must donate an existing item that they no longer use. It’s up to you if you allow them to sell the old item, but instilling a sense of charity and balance is crucial at such a young age.

  1.  Donate or Sell to Consignment Shops

Likewise, you can bring your old electronics to consignment and thrift shops. You often won’t get much (or any) money for donations such as these. Sometimes, though, just the knowledge that your old things will go to a good home is more than enough.

Like other forms of donating, consignment shops will generally only take items in good condition. Some gentle use is usually acceptable, but there shouldn’t be any damage. Again, don’t use this route for products with lots of resale value. Old items such as CD players, video games, or outdated computer equipment won’t fetch much. Go ahead and bring them to your local thrift shop. 

  1.  Use Electronics Recycling Programs

Some of us want to know that our old items can’t be used to harm the environment. Others need to know that their old goods are being used to make new goods. If this sounds like you, then consider recycling programs for your old electronics.

Many manufacturers of electronic products offer recycling programs. Most of these require you to send in the item through the mail, but many will provide the shipping materials. Others have drop-off centers all over the country to make it easier.

Recycling your old electronics diverts thousands of pounds of important components back into the supply chain. That’s thousands of pounds of materials that don’t have to be taken from the Earth—and thousands of pounds of plastic kept out of landfills. That kind of responsibility always feels good.

If you’re sitting on a stockpile of old electronics, then it’s time to reduce your clutter. Don’t be a technology dragon atop your hoard of old chargers. Recycle, sell, or donate your stuff! Often, you can make plenty of side cash for your old items. More importantly, though, the electronics you no longer use can be life-changing for someone else.