It’s the time of year when everything gets all wrapped up in retail, sales and gift details, and a new electronic device is at the top of many a Christmas list. Make that several new electronic devices. The holidays are a time for giving and getting electronics by the dozen – like new iPhones and other mobiles, laptops, desktops.

Businesses, too may see the end of the year as a time to of “out with the old, in with the new” electronics for the office. The essence of ‘newness’ carries with it a certain euphoria that America seems to be totally in enamored with, so the onslaught of new gadgets during the holidays could be a big boon to household and company morale, but it also ushers in a pressing dilemma in light of the escalating e-waste crisis.

E-waste for the Holidays

It is now quite well known that America is trashing its electronic waste at rates faster than we know where to put it. Landfills are reaching epic limits and more research on the effects on e-waste to surrounding environs, namely soil, air and water, have placed the habit of simply discarding electronics in the nearby garbage a huge no-no.

The smarter option is to participate in healthier ways of discarding electronics, especially at this time of year, when bringing on the newest and latest in electronic gadgets means finding the best place possible to get rid of the older devices.

Ways to Prepare Your Electronics for Recycling

1. Research.

Part of preparing your devices for recycling means knowing ahead of time where they’ll be going once you’ve made the wise decision to discard them properly. Just where can you take an old laptop or television without running the risk of breaking any laws or creating environmental hazards?

Several retail chains, Staples and Best Buy to name two, are excellent destinations for certain types of electronic devices. Best Buy takes old cords, cell phones, tablets and other devices through sorting boxes located in the front lobbies of each store location. Call ahead just to make sure the collection boxes exist in your area.

Goodwill is also another excellent destination for electronic devices. The non-profit takes in devices of all kinds including the clunkier versions of computers and appliances. However, the best place to take an aging, end-of-life device is the local recycling center. Depending on the state you live in, most recycling centers will safely and efficiently dispose your electronic device for free or for a small (usually $10 and under) fee for each device.

Lastly, there is the option of returning the device back to its manufacturer. If this is allowed, you’ll know by searching the user’s manual for the device and following the instructions there. 

2. Gather, gather, gather.

One essential step to properly disposing your electronics is actually preparatory in nature. It involves gathering your devices for a big haul so that there are no stray devices left out of the process to tempt improper disposal.

Because e-waste recycling is not yet mandated federally, each state, and in most cases, each locality, has it’s own rules and procedures for electronic waste disposal. That means that many may have no clue whatsoever what to do with old cords, computes and cell phones when the end of their useful lifespan begins. 

The result is that many American households are actually tech graveyards for old devices with no place to go. You might say that this is better than a slew of devices parading toward the local landfill, but storing devices at home takes up space and leaves valuable materials with potential usefulness sitting in your garage or closet.

3. Get rid of sensitive data.

Data privacy is a major concern right now – not just with large companies, but also with consumers and individuals who’d rather not have hackers sorting through their private information. This holds true even for devices that reach the end of their life span due to the purchase of an upgrade. 

But how should we go about protecting sensitive data even after a device is sent for recycling? The best way to ensure the privacy or your data post collection for recycling is to remember to wipe the data from your system. This can be done with data wiping software which overwrites the data making it inaccessible to snoopers and hackers.

Another smart way to protect your privacy is to locate a trustworthy recycler with data privacy guarantees in place. Some recyclers take great pains to ensure that the data on your device is rendered inaccessible throughout the recycling process. The best recyclers deliver certificates of destruction which verify that your device has been disposed properly with complete removal  of sensitive data.

Whatever Your Do, Don’t Throw it in the Trash

On top of all the things to remember during the holidays, one very important detail is not to be overlooked concerning your electronics. Don’t throw them in the trash. In at least 25 states, doing so is not just unwise, it’s illegal.

Instead, consider taking the time to research the best locations willing to collect your electronics for recycling. Better yet, contact a trustworthy recycler for a quote or drop-off location info. Then, gather your wayward gadgets and devices, including cords and chargers, and discard them the right way for the holidays.