Closed September 2017 How to Recycle Your Old Computer

by Megan Dobransky

Sometimes its hard to give up your old computer; its been with you for years. It has your family photos and important documents saved on it. Often it seems much easier to banish it to a dark closet corner. Out of sight. Out of mind. But recycling your old computer can actually do a ton of good in your community, not to mention help de-clutter your life. Heres our step-by-step guide to make recycling your old computer as easy as possible.

Step 1: Think before you buy.

Remember when youre buying a new computer, that it will eventually become an old computer.

Plan ahead by labeling accessories, cords and cables that comes with it. Lorie Marrero, founder of the Clutter Diet and organizing expert, suggests after typing a label, feed a little more tape from a label maker so youll have extra room to wrap and secure labels to cords.

This will come in handy later when youre ready to sell, donate or recycle the computer, because usually accessories and cords are also accepted.

Step 2: Make the commitment.

Its so easy to say youre going to do something, but actually doing it can prove to be more difficult.

Marrero makes some pretty convincing arguments to spur you into action.

For one, de-cluttering by getting rid of obsolete items like computers can save you time. Clutter is a lot about decisions you havent made or actions you havent taken. When you get them out of the way, it frees up a lot of time, she says.

Secondly, it can save you money. You know what you have and you can see it, Marrero says. You wont buy duplicate items and when you streamline your processes, you avoid spending more money.

Thirdly, clutter causes stress. All the procrastination and stress drains your energy, Marrero says.

Finally, as if those werent convincing enough, if you choose to donate your computer, you can do a world of good in your community. Dont believes us? We have proof! Visit the Goodwill site to experience the Calculate Your Impact tool. Donating a working computer amounts to 8.1 hours of one-the-job training for someone in need.

Goodwill Industries partners with Dell for the Reconnect program, which fosters responsible e-waste recycling as well as creates green jobs, as a free way for anyone to recycle an old computer.

You simply drop off your computer and associated parts at a Reconnect location. From there, Robert Hain  Vice President of Donated Goods at Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia  says that the parts are transported to a central facility where they are sorted, packed and shipped to a de-manufacturer based on strict guidelines from Dell.

Every Goodwill location operates a little differently, he says. But we know computers are always disposed of in a green manner&We are diverting them from landfills and not shipping them overseas.

He adds that this program not only helps the environment, but it also goes a long way to create jobs and train and employ people with disabilities or other barriers to employment.

Once you make the commitment to get rid of your old computer, you may find yourself a happier and liberated person.

Step 3: Save your files.

This step might be where people start to get a little nervous, but saving your files is actually quite simple.

There are a number of online storage site like or Dropbox that are incredibly easy to use and for some versions, even free.

USB drives or external hard drives might cost you some money, but they are a reliable and convenient option to store your data, as well.

Or you can even just email documents and photos to yourself. These things will always live in your email unless you delete them, and you can download them back onto your new computer very easily.

Step 4: Erase the hard drive.

Now that your important files are safe and sound, its important to clear the hard drive so personal information isnt compromised.

Marrero says that this is the main reason why people dont get rid of their old computers. A lot of fear surrounds identity theft and breaches of privacy, but erasing your hard drive is as easy as doing an Internet search. A quick search will show you some simple and free options.

Even Earth911 has previously suggested some options.

Step 5: Dont forget the accessories.

Accessories can take up just as much room as the computer itself.

This is where Step 1 will be of great help to you. Gather the cords, cables, keyboard, mouse and any other peripherals, and be sure to bring them when you donate or sell the computer.

Most recycling programs and definitely donation programs and commercial venues will accept these accessories.

Step 6: Action!

The time has come. Dont worry; youre prepared! Youre finally ready to recycle your old computer.

Marrero says that many people have a hard time parting with electronics because those gadgets cost a lot of money. She suggests that if you really want to make some money on old electronics, try Craigslist or eBay.

But she says that donation is really the best option. You have to understand the value of donating, she says. The Dell Reconnect program is great, because its recycling so you dont have to worry about the environment and it benefits people in your neighborhood.

Editors Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Dell is one of these partners.

Need help getting organized? Here are 3 ways we can help:

Leave a Reply

ParadeRachael RayInStyleCNBCFast CompanyThe Boston GlobeWomen's DayWGNToday