What to Do With My Old Laptop

Well, I’ve had a little break from my blog, but I’ve still been thinking about more ways to go green 😉 This week it’s the turn of what to do with my old laptop.

Unfortunately, after a few years my laptop really isn’t suitable for use any more – it freezes a lot, is incredibly slow and isn’t reliable enough for me to use as I need to be able to save work and access things that I’ve already done. So I decided it was time for a new one (this alone caused a little bit of green heart-wrenching!)

But what can I do with my old laptop? I judge it not really usable for another person, so I can’t donate it or sell it. But then I also can’t just throw it away. Electronic products can be made out of hazardous materials and as such you don’t want them in landfill where they could easily react with other substances! Also, it’s such a waste to throw something away, even if it isn’t usable as it is.

Waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) that shouldn’t be thrown away normally is labelled with a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol – the photo below is of this symbol on the bottom of my laptop. The Hg in the circle next to it means that the laptop contains mercury (this is a hazardous metal), and you can see that it also says “Lamp(s) contain Mercury. Dispose Properly”. This highlights that you can’t just put this item in with your normal household waste because it could be dangerous.Laptop Symbols

A great suggestion one of my friends has given me is to remove the RAM (Random Access Memory) from my laptop, which is the valuable bit and the bit that someone else could use  and sell it. You can look on eBay for the price you might be able to sell your RAM for. Then the rest of the laptop can be taken to a local recycling site where it will hopefully be broken down into bits which can be used again.

Because I have literally only just learnt how to remove the RAM, I’d like to direct you to this youtube video (below), which shows you how to do it very simply and easily. He first removes the battery from the laptop, and then takes out the RAM – it’s quite distinctive looking so you’ll know when you’ve found it! Remember to wipe your laptop of all your data first, though.

What do you do when one of your electronic or electric devices reaches the end of its life?

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4 thoughts on “What to Do With My Old Laptop

  1. First, I wouldn’t assume no one wants it. Put it on Craigslist first – if it’s only a few years old like you say, I can almost bet someone out there will want it – for their kid, older parent, etc. My granny loved an old desktop my aunt gave her as all she used it for was to play a few basic games. Second, laptops are recyclable. Go to Earth911 to look up a location near you, or if there’s a Free Geek in your area, even better as they not only recycle but educate. It’s also the law in most states that you can’t throw electronics away.

    This reminds me as well of the idea of planned obsolescence many manufacturers use and how our society buys into thinking they need a new gadget every few years…we must think more before we purchase. I’ve owned 2 computers in 15 years and with a little continued love to my existing Mac laptop (which I use for work every day of the week), I’ll have it at least a few more.

    Finally it’s also vital we look at the human cost involved in the materials used to make electronics, both socially and environmentally. Cell phones and laptops are huge offenders. Buy a high end refurbished version and look for Energy Star ratings as well…just more food for thought 🙂

    • Hi, thank you for commenting – and congrats on your wedding by the way, I saw your post about it earlier today:)

      Yes, I am going to try and Freecycle or Streetbank it first (I’m in the UK so Earth911 isn’t an option) – but unfortunately in addition to being slow the laptop has also got the “blue screen of death”. My previous laptop had this and eventually it was so bad I couldn’t get it to turn on, making it completely unusable. I sent it back for repairs and the company couldn’t repair it, so I am concerned that this could happen again with this one. But don’t worry, I will see if anyone wants it first – sorry that I didn’t make this clear. I did discuss recycling it in my post, pointing out the crossed-out wheelie bin symbol and the Hg mercury symbol too, and I am aware of WEEE regulations here in the UK (and I would definitely make sure to recycle it anyway).

      Yes, I am familiar with the idea of planned obsolescence, and I always make sure that I think carefully about new purchases, as you can hopefully see throughout the rest of my blog. I have also been cutting down the amount of time I spend on my laptop anyway (see my A Digital Diet post), so hopefully all my gadgets will last for even longer now.

      Always great to hear thoughts from fellow greenies, thank you 🙂

  2. Good post. I have two old laptops lying around and a computer that I really need to dispose of. I will certainly remove the RAM. This video has served as a well timed reminder! Although I am now in America for a couple of months, this will be one of the first things I do when I get back!

    • Glad to have served as a reminder! Are your laptops/computer not suitable for selling second-hand or donating? I think mine possibly could be, but the last time I used it I got the “blue screen of death” which usually means it’s going to become unusable soon. Enjoy your time in America! 🙂

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