Don't throw it away! What to do with old electronic devices


  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 27 Jun 2017

Many old phones, laptops and tablets end up on the rubbish heap

When you've bought a new tablet, smartphone or laptop, what should you do with the old one? Many old devices languish in bottom drawers or, worse still, end up in the trash.

Next time you have an unwanted device on your hands, think again. Taking old electronic devices to retailers or local collection points is an option, but you can also continue using old devices that are still working, give them away or sell them to help protect the environment. Here are some alternatives to our throwaway culture:

1) Repair it

Whether it's a Blu-ray player, toaster or mobile phone, if a device has broken after its warranty has expired and having it fixed is too expensive, it's always worth giving it a go yourself.

The website repaircafe.org, for instance, lists skilled amateurs or professionals who may lend you a hand. There are many other similar initiatives to be found online. It's also worth looking out for websites and videos offering step-by-step instructions for fixing various devices.

2) Carry on using it

You've been offered a new smartphone to go with a new contract, or you've seen an amazing discount on a huge flat-screen TV. Temptation is everywhere, but consumers should always consider whether they really need a new device.

In the case of mobile phone contracts, restraint may even pay off in the long run. "Many providers offer a lower monthly rate if you use your own device," says Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Or you can switch to a prepaid contract.

3) Convert it

Even if your mobile phone, computer or notebook no longer serves the purpose you originally bought it for, you might still be able to use it for something else.

An old computer - whether it's a PC or a notebook - can often be turned into a secondary device which you use for network storage or as a server, and a smartphone could be used for music or an internet connection. An old router can be converted into a WiFi repeater.

4) Give it away

"Check whether your device is suitable for secondary use," advises the UBA. If it is, you're bound to find someone who will benefit from it.

Tablets are a good alternative to regular computers for older people, who are often just starting out with computers and the internet so don't need anything fancy. They could also be of interest to families with children.

Consider selling old devices through classified ads or online auctions. In both cases, you should make sure you delete your personal data from the device.

5) Buy second-hand

You can also do a lot for the environment by opting to buy devices second-hand. "If you don't need to have the latest device, you can save a lot of money with a used smartphone," the UBA points out. This also applies to a number of other devices, from digital cameras to computers.— dpa

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