What to do with your old tech devicesOct 03, 2022 12:37PM ● By Adam Cochran
My wife helped me buy our first computer in 1996. We were newlyweds and I was starting school and working two jobs. Although we couldn’t afford a computer, we knew we’d only be able to see each other if I was able to write papers and do research at home.
The Internet had only been open to the public for about five years, but the commercial Internet we know today was barely a year old.
In 1997, I’d been exposed to the internet enough to figure out how to access the university’s connection from home at nearly 28 kilobits per second. By comparison, today’s cable internet connection clocks around 100,000 kilobits per second.
The internet wasn’t the only digital technology I was adding to my life. My first digital camera was 1.3 megapixels and an image card could only hold fewer than 100 pictures at high resolution. The new iPhone 14 has a 48 megapixel camera and also shoots video and can hold thousands of pictures and dozens of hours of video.
Technology has become faster and cheaper, but it has also led to a major problem: Now we have drawers and closets full of old equipment and obsolete cables.
I believe in keeping technology useful for as long as possible, but I don’t recommend always buying the best and fastest equipment. Typically, mid-tier equipment will do 95 percent of what 100 percent of people do. But eventually, you will need to upgrade to something nicer or faster.
Whenever I help set up a new computer for someone, the person I’m helping always seems to ask: What do I do with the old stuff?
This can be difficult to answer because nobody wants to clutter the landfill. Plus, the Great Depression created generations of people who fear throwing something away they might need within the next 25 years. This column will help guide you on what to throw away, how long to keep certain technologies, and how to safely dispose of items that aren’t supposed to go to the landfill.
If your technology is broken and you don’t want to pay for the repair, nobody else will either. Call your local landfills and waste management services for where to take technology waste.
Technology recycling is usually a separate service from other recycling services. Recycling almost always costs money based on weight. So, if you’re extremely frugal, that may determine how much obsolete technology you keep piled in your garage or stored under your bed.
OLD BUT WORKS
Most working technology still has value to someone. If you enjoy having a little extra cash and you have some free time, you can probably sell that old digital camera, laptop or box of cables for a small fraction of the original retail value.
Old technology has value to people for several reasons. There are prospecting hobbyists who dissolve circuit boards in acid to harvest the $6-$12 in gold found in the average old computer. People who still have old videos, floppy drives and cassette tapes with records and memories on them like to have technology that will allow them to access those files and transfer them to a more modern format.
The least expensive way to sell your old equipment is to list it on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, but you will make more money by selling it on eBay.
One of my favorite uses for old technology is to turn it into art. Just as steampunk art represents the beauty of the steam era, there is a growing demand for the aesthetic of vintage technology.
Unlike a steam engine, obsolete technology will never be useful again. So turning it into arts and crafts is a great way to give it new life. Turn that old TV into a goldfish aquarium or dismantle that old digital camera for the great lenses inside. What better way to rid the world of eyesores of obsolete technology than to turn it into something beautiful that represents the impact that computers, cellphones, digital cameras, and even gaming systems have had on society and culture?
You might also like this other Talking Digital article:
When to upgrade your technology
I am a fairly religious person, but my most radical conviction is that I don’t believe in obsolete technology. And I certainly don’t subscri... Read More »