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How to Dispose of a Laptop

How to Dispose of a Laptop

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Don’t you wish you could improve as fast as technology?

You could burn through that stack of self-help books you’ve been meaning to read. By morning, you’d be the millionaire next door with a four-hour workweek. By noon, you’d be winning friends and influencing people. And when the evening rolls around, you will finally have mastered the art of not giving … well, you know. Of course, you already know the eighth habit of effectiveness: put those recycling bags to good use.

People don’t change anywhere near as quickly as technology. Now that you’ve purchased the latest and greatest laptop, learn how to dispose of your old one. And, hopefully, your new laptop won’t be outdated before you reach the end of the article.

Keep Your Laptop Out of the Landfill

Computer sales increased 40 percent during the pandemic, despite 92 percent of households already having a laptop or computer. So, what happened to all those old machines?

Discarded laptops are grouped along with other electronics known as e-waste. According to The World Counts, the amount of e-waste we produce is equivalent to throwing away 800 laptops every second. And only about 12 percent of that e-waste is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or incinerators.

All of that e-waste is bad for the environment. Laptops contain hazardous materials, such as flame retardants and phthalates, which are known to be endocrine disruptors. When laptops go to landfills, these harmful chemicals may eventually seep into the surrounding soil and water. So buy your colored trash bags from But never put your old laptop in the trash.

Shop for Colored Trash Bags

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Wipe Your Old Laptop Clean

Below, we tell you how to donate, sell or recycle your laptop. Before you do so, it’s a good idea to wipe it clean. No, we’re not talking about the life-changing magic of tidying up. We’re talking about removing personal information from your old laptop after saving important photos, documents and other needed info to a thumb drive.

As long as you know your laptop’s operating system version, you should be able to find clear instructions online. Search for instructions on how to return your laptop to its default settings.

Sell or Donate Your Laptop

Your old laptop can still be useful to someone else. You may be able to sell it online. Or you can donate it to a local school or charity. Practice the second R of sustainability, reuse, with these alternatives to disposing of your laptop:

Sell Your Old Laptop

  • Gadget Salvation is a reseller that might pay you for your old laptop.
  • Sell your laptop yourself on Facebook Marketplace.

Trade In Your Laptop at a Retailer

  • Earn credit on Amazon with your trade-in.
  • Both Staples and Best Buy will allow you to trade in your old laptop for gift cards.

Trade In Your Laptop with the Manufacturer

The following manufacturers offer trade-in programs for laptops:

Donate Your Used Laptop

If there isn’t a local school or charity in need of your laptop, visit Digitunity or World Computer Exchange.  

Benefits of Recycling Laptops

Recycling your old laptop has benefits that go beyond keeping hazardous materials out of our water and food supply. According to the EPA, the energy saved by recycling one million laptops could power more than 3,500 homes for a year.

Laptops are also a goldmine, literally. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), one metric ton of e-waste from 1998 contains more gold than 17 metric tons of gold ore. Laptops potentially contain more than a dozen metals, including iron and copper. Most of those materials can be recovered and reused.

Laptop keyboard with plant growing on it. Green IT computing concept. Carbon efficient technology. Digital sustainability

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How to Recycle Your Laptop

Maybe you were cleaning out the basement and found your old laptop from a decade ago. You know it’s not sellable. When you can’t turn a profit on your old laptop, find a place to drop it off for recycling.  

  • Call your local recycling facility. Even though you can’t put your e-waste in the regular recycling collection, most facilities will let you drop it off at their location.
  • Check for local electronics recyclers. E-waste recycling is a lucrative business. Many areas have companies offering tech recycling even if the local waste facility doesn’t.
  • Call your local Best Buy or Staples store to find out if they’ll take your old laptop.
  • Check the Electronics Take Back Coalition website to see if your laptop manufacturer will accept your old laptop for recycling.

Although it would be nice if we could just throw our bad habits into our Simplehuman garbage bags, it takes time to develop good habits. When your technology is improving faster than you can whip up a green smoothie, use these tips to dispose of your old laptop responsibly. Mastering seven habits of effectiveness can take a lifetime. But mastering the Rs of sustainability is easier than you think. And the benefits will last for generations. 

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