If you’re thinking of upgrading your smartphone, computer, or other shiny digital gadget in the near future, stop yourself for a moment. Although casting it into the void may seem to make perfect sense to you – because it’s slowing down or incapable of running your latest software – be advised that it’s still more likely than not a perfectly serviceable device.
The upgrade cycle, while necessary for many, has all but trained us to think of our old phones or second hand laptops as being broken or worthless when they are not. Casually discarding them represents a huge waste of valuable minerals – and these devices could have been profitably employed by someone with less spec-heavy needs.
There are, in fact, a number of ways in which your old devices can be happily reincarnated, and some of them can even bring you in a little bit of money. It may be possible, if you hunt hard enough while shopping around for a replacement, to find a deal which allows you to trade in your old computer for refurbishment, for instance. A number of sites exist which will offer you deals like this, but many of them may underestimate the value of your machine, so it’s more than worth your while to check around to get a variety of quotes. Refurbished laptops, for instance, when sold and handled responsibly, may present a cheaper option for users with lower system requirements. When looking at buying or selling used laptops, you should consider the potential downsides, as well – Lenovo has a helpful page about the pros and cons of second hand laptops.
If your old machine is not particularly outdated and you don’t feel like it’s worth going to the bother of selling it, it may be worth your while to keep it behind to harvest it for parts. Many components in desktops, for instance, are fairly interchangeable (especially more utilitarian features like cooling systems), meaning that having a spare on hand could save your life in a tight spot. Old hard drives can quite easily be scrubbed of data, and with the addition of a case and mount, can be turned into a useful external drive for additional storage space or backup facilities. It’s always useful to have some extra RAM boards around (never know when you might need them), so why throw them away if you’ve got them?
If components in the machine are either too old or too damaged to be of practical use for anyone, then you might be able to at least make a little bit of money back by selling the machine for scrap. This is particularly true of older smartphones, but also holds true for computers of all kinds. The wizard-forged components of your humble laptop are made from a series of quite rare and valuable materials (including gold, tungsten, and the like) which are extremely difficult and costly to extract, and are almost always reusable in new machines once your older model has been discarded. By selling your old machine to a company that will extract these minerals, you not only stand to help out the environment a little by reducing our need to extract these materials, but you may also help to support alternatives to relying on the use of conflict minerals for our technology. So you could potentially make money, and save lives, simply by closing that bin and doing a quick Google search!
Take a little time and work up a solution that you think will work best for you, but don’t consign your old stuff to the junkyard, where it will be of no use to anyone. By recycling whole machines or even just the raw materials that go into making them, you’ll help to create a world that the next generation will thank you for.