Why you should never throw away your old tech

“If you just got a brand new TV, gaming console or smartphone for the holidays, you’re probably trying to figure out what to do with your old model,” Alex Fitzpatrick reports for TIME Magazine. “It can be pretty temping to just toss your aging iPhone 4S or Xbox 360 in the trash like regular garbage, but that’s the absolute last thing you should do.”

“First, your old electronics are chock full of toxic stuff that should never make it to a landfill, like arsenic, lead, and cadmium,” Fitzpatrick reports. “The green argument aside, there’s another good reason not to toss your old tech: It keeps your personal information safe. If you throw away your old computer, there’s no telling who might be able to get their hands on your hardware—and, by extension, your data.”

Fitzpatrick ask rhetorically, “So, if you can’t just throw your old stuff away, what should you do with it?”

Find out what to do with your old tech in the full article here.

33 Comments

  1. America is such a throw-away society.

    If the electronics still works, I either donate it to the Out of the Closet Thrift Shop in Los Angeles, which benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; or I send it to friends in Nicaragua, which is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

    If the electronics are truly useless, then I take it to the Los Angeles S.A.F.E. (Solvents/Automotive/Flammables/Electronics) Recycling and Disposal Center.

      1. Yeah, that is my main pet peeve with Apple today beyond tasteless icons.

        Apple bulletproof hardware is brought to its knees by software upgrades and rendered OBSOLETE.

        Only two choices: Buy new disposable bulletproof hardware or keep the older device automatically banished from the upgrade path. Life on a deserted tech island.

        Never thought I’d say it, but Microsoft supported XP for over a decade. Apple OS, not even close.

        Like Apple does not have enough money. Sheesh. I just don’t get it …

        Apple user since Lisa.

        1. That’s an interesting perspective to point out that Microsoft supported Windows XP for 12 years. Part of the reason why they did that is because it took them so long to release Vista, and then when it finally did come out, it was a total disaster. Besides the fact that a new version of Windows may not even run on your old PC, Windows users are very slow to adopt new operating systems because Microsoft charges so much to upgrade.

          The nice thing about Apple is not that they support their old operating systems for years and years, since that’s not what they do. Instead, they offer you the newest operating system for free, and it will run on an old Macintosh. They breathe new life into an old computer, and they don’t even charge you for it.

          1. I’m with you Bryan, my early ’09 24 inch iMac is still going strong, even tho it is almost 6 years old. All I have ever done to it is bump up the RAM from 4 to 8 Gig, and that was a trivial task to do on my own. It was pretty much top of the range for an iMac at the time, and it still kicks ass for the things I use it for. How many 6 year old electronic anythings can do anything more than kick a bucket? This one still runs the latest version of OS X. My cost per year of use keeps going down.

            1. I have a 2008 Mac Pro that’s still going strong and running 10.6.8 in my recording studio. It’s rock solid so I don’t know if I’ll ever update its OS. Ever.

            2. My early 2008 27″ IMac is running the latest version of OS X.10 Yosemite quite happily. That machine will soon be eight years old and there is nothing wrong with it. It is actually running perceptibly FASTER with each revision of OS X that has been installed on it. In those eight years I’ve had only one glitch on an update, which I handled easily by reinstalling the update and restoring from my Time Machine backup.

              Those who complain about Apple not supporting previous computers are going back 14,years when Apple switched from the dead-end of the old MacOS to the modern UNIX based OS X in 2001 and ignore that Apple supported dual booting into MacOS for four additional years, and even further year’s of support through allowing MacOS applications to run in Rosetta emulation under OS X, until it was finally discontinued in 2010. Others are still upset that the Apple ][ line was discontinued after almost 17 years in production and 22 years of continuous support. They just can’t let it go.

            3. We have a 17″ 2007 iMac on a “built-in” desk area in our kitchen. I picked it up for about $50 a while back on eBay. Pop in 2GB of RAM and voila! Useful computer.

              Still works great, convenient to have in a central area of the house, and while it can’t run Yosemite (or even Mavericks), it works perfectly, served our needs for very little money, and has even received Security updates in the past 6-12 months or so, so it’s not completely abandoned by Apple.

              So let’s be honest, folks. Is running the latest OS really that critical?

              1) Apple’s OS is pretty rock-solid. The vast majority of “critical” security updates are all browser related, because browsers interface directly with other servers (opportunity for hacking) and because browsers are such complex technologies, *often* maintained by open source communities, so QA is less than perfect, to say the least.

              2) What features of Yosemite or Mavericks are really “can’t live without”? I have Yosemite on my personal iMac and Mavericks on my work-provided MacBook Pro. For 95% of usage, I don’t miss ANY features when I switch to our kitchen iMac. It’s just slower and has a smaller screen…which is all hardware. Don’t get me wrong…the newer features are *nice*, just not “must haves”.

              3) Microsoft needed to keep supporting XP to save Microsoft’s bacon. Can you imagine the “bad press” disaster if they’d stopped supporting XP when the only option was Vista?? So your choices are to be hacked and virus-infected….or jump on board the Vista Express, and enjoy the train wreck. It truly would have been catastrophic, given the percentage of businesses using XP at the time. Vista was and is unusable, and with much existing software simply not working on it, upgrading simply wouldn’t have been possible for many businesses. So, once their un-patched XP boxes all got infected, their critical data compromised, etc, they would have literally had no choice but to switch to Macs. Kind of a shame that didn’t happen, but the business loss would have been horrific in the meantime. Win7 fixed most of Vista’s problems, but the big business upgrade process takes forever to plan (I know, I’ve done it), so they needed at least a couple years of XP support after Win7 was out to avoid the same disaster as above.

              Microsoft is run by a bunch of idiots, but they were apparently smart enough to see the problem in dropping XP support prior to Windows 7 going more mainstream. It certainly wasn’t any “kindness” they were doing to their users…it was just self-preservation.

            4. I actually don’t mind my 2006 first Gen Intel being stuck on Snow Leopard. To me it’s the best OS Apple produced. And I can still color my damn folders! Instead of being subjected to those useless freaking tag dots.

          2. Though we have a loaded 2013 iMac, and a 2011 MBP, I’m still using a 2006 MacBook Pro on a daily basis. I’m about to donate a 2005 iMac to a friend. Have a 2009 iMac in the basement for music and general use. I have a cube upstairs that actually still boots up and runs though I don’t use it (and would never get rid of it) So I don’t think Apple’s hardware becomes obsolete that quickly. Might not run the latest greatest OS features and stuff, but it sill surfs the net plays video, stores photos, and sends eMail.

          3. The support for Windows, for whatever reason, has always been longer. Why buy a new machine if I don’t have to?

            And Apple enthusiasts wonder why Windows dominates business and the enterprise.

            While it is nice to read older Macs support newer OSes, we’re talking a couple or more paltry years.

            Apple should do better. Now that they are a gadget-selling, fashionable, money making company — fat chance.

  2. There’s an electronic e-waste place run by the city a few miles from me conveniently and that’s where I dispose of old tech. I just took a $900 family room 60″ LED TV to be disposed there that only lasted 3-4 months thanks probably to my grandchildren. No one would own up to the mysterious crack in the LED screen (though not visible in the outer screen) that killed the TV. Very frustrating but not replaced and life has been MUCH quieter downstairs as a result. (We still have another 60″ in our bedroom, heh.)

  3. Friend just gave me her old iPhone 3GS which she could not sell for any amount worth the hassle.

    I am not bothering to set it up as a phone.
    So I now have a spare digital still-and-video camera. 🙂

    1. I have bought and upgraded virtually every iteration. Fortunately, as head of the household, I get the choice to upgrade and pass my latest down the line.

      Recently ran out of family members, so I took back our 3G and virtually mounted it in one of our cars and use it pretty well exclusively with TomTom (NA) that I got when when it first came out. By the way TomTom is shared on all our dozen or so iOS’s. Not bad for an app that costed $60 at the time. Since TomTom doesn’t require a DATA plan, we also have the Mexico and Europe. Note that TomTom does not support 3G/3GS anymore. But heck the older versions still work great.

  4. Smoke detectors are a real nasty as they contain radioactive material. They should be recycled but no doubt they will end up in the land fill.

    Humans, the only species to produce items that are non biodegradable and toxic not only to themselves but to all other known forms of life.

  5. “Toss your aging iPhone 4S in the trash?” I just sold one for $130. No, it wasn’t beat up. Take care of your Apple devices and it will be a long time before they are worth nothing.

    1. I just sold a 64GB 4S on eBay for $147, plus shipping, and it would have gone for more except that the back of it had a crack across it and there was a tiny crack in the upper left corner on the front (not across the screen).

      Without cracks, they’re going for around $200 still!!

    1. orenokoto he’s right! My current machine is a g4 mac mini! Something like an 08 would be a solid improvement for someone like me… There are people out there that just want parts, or are willing to repair. My current laptop is a salvaged D250 acer netbook. opened it up and repaired the power jack. Good enough to mess around with.

    2. I just sold a 2007 MacBook Pro (battery not dead, but “Service Battery” warning on) for $450 on eBay. Replacing the battery costs $100 or so (or $30 for an aftermarket, if you want to chance it), a hard drive can be had for less than $100, so you should be able to get at least $100 for it (and the buyer will have a $300 2008 laptop…not bad!)

  6. What hasn’t been addressed is the comment in the article about data getting in the wrong hands. iOS encrypts the memory so if a wipe is done that should be a non-issue and if hard drives are wiped with a secure wipe, they should not have any data that can fall into the wrong hands.

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