One thing to keep in mind when attempting to repair a phone, laptop, or other device that has a built in battery is to discharge the battery before opening it. When repairing large white goods appliances, rubber gloves and rubber-soled boots can minimize the risk of electric shock.
If you’re too scared to attempt repairs, you can probably find a good local repair shop by reading reviews. The Federal Trade Commission found that independent repair shops have the same success rate and safety record as manufacturer shops. Many manufacturers have discouraged repairs on pain of voiding warranties, but victories for the right-to-repair movement have made the tech a little more repairable.
Just be sure to back up and protect sensitive data on your devices before handing them in to repair shops. Some devices may even have a built-in solution. For example, Samsung phone owners can turn on maintenance mode before handing in a device to ensure photos and accounts are inaccessible.
Sell or trade
You can make some money by selling old equipment. Even broken units can be sold for parts, although you’ll always charge a higher fee if you clean and fix them first. Trade-in or buyback programs can also give you a discount on something new. We have guides on how to sell or trade in your iPhone (remember to factory reset it first) and how to sell your smartwatch or fitness tracker.
You can generally get the highest fees by selling directly to people through eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor. Just remember that you will need to arrange delivery or meet up to exchange the goods, and buyers often like to haggle.
For a hassle-free sale, consider places like Swappa, DeCluttr, or GadgetPickup. These types of buyers use online questionnaires to determine a price and often offer free shipping. Take a look around and see who is offering the best price, but be honest in your descriptions or you will find your offer reduced after inspection.
Redemption or trade-in programs are another easy option, although you probably won’t make as much as you would from a sale, and you’ll often receive your fee as credit. Best Buy, Amazon, Verizon, Samsung, Walmart, and many others offer trade-ins for electronics.
If you like the idea of your old electronics doing some good, consider donating them to charity. According to Chamberlain, Goodwill is one of the best options because the company has a strong reuse hierarchy and strives to get as much as possible out of electronics before they are recycled. You can also find local charities that accept electronics through Donation Town.
Cell Phones for Soldiers is a non-profit organization that sends prepaid cell phones to foreign troops so they can keep in touch with loved ones. Recycle Health is another non-profit organization that collects fitness trackers and gives them to underserved populations to promote fitness.
Research and recycle
Some of the places already mentioned recycle devices that cannot be reused, and it’s worth checking if the original manufacturer of your device has a recycling system. Retailers like Best Buy and Staples accept and recycle your old phones, laptops, and other electronics.
Local facilities that handle electronics for reuse and recycling sometimes have community drop-off events, Seibert says, and local communities often have electronics collections once or twice a year, so it’s worth checking to see if there are any in your area are planned.
Unfortunately, not all recycling centers and systems are created equal. SERI manages the R2 standard to establish best practices to protect the environment, worker health and safety, and natural resources. An R2 certified facility ensures that all used electronic equipment is processed responsibly, including any residual data on equipment. While most aren’t set up for consumer dispensing, there is a search tool to filter for those that are.
You can also find a long list of international Ewaste recycling links at iFixit, visit Call 2 Recycle for batteries, and find recycling locations through Earth 911.
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