Recycle Your Laptop

My current laptop is on its last legs. That got me thinking—what should I do with my laptop (or any laptop, for that matter) once it’s finished?

First, it is important to erase all your personal data from the device. I would recommend backing up your data to something like Google Photos, then performing a factory reset on the laptop.  Erasing your personal data can eliminate privacy concerns when recycling your laptop.

If your laptop is old and not good for further use, Best Buy can often take it off your hands for free. If you’re a local, the City of Rochester also has routes to safely and securely recycle your old laptop. University students can label their laptops as “RECYCLE” and drop them off at the Sage loading dock (again, please be sure to remove your personal information first). University students and employees can take advantage of the annual E-Cycle Day event as an option as well.

However, if your laptop is relatively young (preferably fewer than five years old) and can still be of good use, it’s a good idea to donate that laptop.  Of course, if you have a friend or relative in mind who needs a laptop, you can give it directly to them.  For most people, this won’t be the case, and they will need to look for another way to donate their laptop.

In what might come as a surprise to most people, there are many different libraries and nonprofit organizations that will accept used laptops.  Sites like Earth911 can help facilitate finding a nearby drop-off location.

This, in effect, is an important note to remember when you’re considering recycling your laptop: try first to find a way for it to be reused.  While recycling can be good in certain situations, Earth’s resources have already been extracted to help create that laptop.  Therefore, that laptop should be used as much as it can, in order to say those resources have been fully utilized.  Only then should a laptop be recycled to give its precious minerals a second life.


Written by Dax Emerson, Class of 2021

Photo Credits: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash