Pagoda Blog

The Right Way to Get Rid of Electronics

April 5, 2018

Updated April 21, 2022


How many smartphones have you owned in your lifetime? Can you remember what you did with each of them once you upgraded to a newer model? With planned obsolescence the new norm, most of us are discarding our smartphones, TVs, laptops, and other devices more frequently than ever. Where a US family once kept the same television for over a decade, it’s now rare for us to keep any device for longer than two years.


In 2019, we discarded 53.6 million tons of e-waste and only 17.4 percent of that (depending on the type of electronic device), was properly discarded. E-waste not only fills our already impacted landfills but it can leak toxins into our soil and water supply. While it can give us a welcome boost of dopamine to buy the latest iPhone or laptop, the environmental cost of our new disposable economy is more than we can afford.


Fortunately, we as individuals can help reduce the amount of electronic waste that winds up in our landfills and minimize the environmental impact of our rejected phones, laptops, printers, cameras, and other countless devices. Here’s how:



Repair, don’t replace (when possible)

When possible, take the extra step to repair your electronic device instead of automatically upgrading. Unfortunately, cell phone and laptop companies now push us to upgrade to a new device before the product’s lifespan is up. We’ve all had to retire an otherwise perfectly good device because it was no longer compatible with the latest operating system or other necessary software updates. Sometimes, however, you may only need to replace the battery or upgrade your hard drive. While this does create some e-waste, it still creates less waste than discarding the entire laptop or phone.


Related post: These Simple Tips Could Extend the Life of Your Laptop


Donate electronics to a good cause

There are plenty of organizations looking for donations of desktops, laptops, and other electronics. Goodwill’s Dell Reconnect Program is a great place to start as they will accept all electronics in any working condition. Grey Bears (located near our HQ in Santa Cruz, CA) also recycles and accepts donations at their Chanticleer Center. Before you donate a computer or any other device that may hold sensitive information, make sure you properly clear all personal data from the hard drive.


The following charities and nonprofits also accept used electronics:



Recycle with an e-Steward certified recycler

If you decide not to donate your unwanted electronics, the next best option is to recycle them. Electronics are categorized as hazardous waste which means it’s actually illegal to dispose of electronics by tossing them in the trash. This is for good reason: When batteries, cell phones, laptops, and other electronics end up in the landfill they can leak toxic chemicals into the soil and our waterways, polluting crops, drinking water, and wildlife habitat.


You can find out what you can recycle and where at call2recycle or check out SERI, with recycle options for individuals and large companies. Whenever possible, you should recycle your electronics with an e-Steward certified recycler. These recyclers meet the most rigorous environmental and social standards, ensuring that your electronics are safely recycled here in the U.S. rather than shipped to a developing country. (E-waste processing facilities in developing countries often have lower safety standards, exposing employees to hazardous materials like mercury, lead, and flame retardants.)


Staples, for example, only uses e-Steward recyclers and accepts a wide variety of devices. Find more information about drop-off and what they accept on the Staples website. For those located in Santa Cruz County, our favorite e-Steward certified recycling center is Grey Bears. (As mentioned above, they also refurbish old electronics and resell them at their Computer Electronics Store.) If you’re a Pagoda client, ask us about helping you recycle your company’s e-waste!  

Related reading:

How to Convert to a Paperless Office in 5 Steps

5 Ways Technology Can Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Business




Want IT to serve you better?





Need ongoing IT support for your business? Contact us for a free consultation. We’d love to work with you!



About Pagoda Technologies IT services

Based in Santa Cruz, California, Pagoda Technologies provides trusted IT support to businesses and IT departments throughout Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and across the globe. To learn how Pagoda Technologies can help your business, email us at to schedule a complimentary IT consultation.


Return to Pagoda Blog Main Page

As your trusted IT service partner, Pagoda Technologies is here to help you achieve your near and long-term business goals through reliable and affordable IT support. 

Pagoda Technologies

101 Cooper Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Contact us for a free IT consultation



Get in touch 

Join our newsletter

Want IT to serve you better? 




Follow Us

Facebook LinkedIn LinkedIn