Spring Cleaning the Electronic Waste From Your Life

photo credit: dio5

In a world where your phones and electronics become obsolete within a year, it should come as no surprise that there is a lot of electronic waste lying around that could be put to great use and recycled today. In fact, the EPA estimates that in 2007, 157 million computer products were discarded (CPUs, monitors, notebooks, keyboards, mice, printers, faxes, and copiers). Just imagine if those items would have been donated and processed by Goodwill instead how much we would be able to keep out of our landfills?

As the season for spring cleaning is around the corner, consider a spring cleaning of the electronic warfare that is taking up residence in your basements, garage, and home office. Today I wanted to share with you the beauty of donating your electronic items to Goodwill and how some of the items gathering dust in your home could benefit someone in your community!

What is the Dell Reconnect program?

I never truly understood how amazing the electronic donation program was at Goodwill until I took a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and got to see the processing of donations as they were happening in real time. It should come as no surprise that the donations that come in aren’t all in the best condition, but the way that Goodwill looks at donations is that every component of that donation has a valuable part to it. Some of the items that cannot be sold in their stores are processed simply as raw materials, such as metals, plastics, and textiles.

Goodwill has a partnership with Dell to process electronic waste in a technology recycling program that can greatly benefit our community and reduce the waste in landfills. The program is called Reconnect and it offers you an easy, convenient and responsible way to recycle your used computer equipment. You can drop off any brand of used equipment – working or not – at Goodwill’s Drive-Thru Donation Centers at their retial stores.

Project Earth 365:  Day 008

photo credit: tiramisu_addict

What types of items does Goodwill take?

While you may already be aware that you can donate those computers, printers, & scanners, there are some items that you might not realize Goodwill will take for you. For example, Goodwill will happily process those cords and cables (power cord & USB cables) that no longer have a use in your home, your ink & toner cartridges (either full or empty), computer speakers, televisions and software. We even take cell phones!

Items where the glass could be broken, like computer monitors and scanners, just need to be placed into a trash bag or box and clearly labeled that they are broken and the date of your donation. Isn’t it nice to know that even those broken items in our home can be processed for donation?

Old Hard Drive... circa 1982 (1)

photo credit: Taran Rampersad

What do I do about the confidential information on my hard drive?

Unfortunately, Goodwill cannot be responsible for the information that may exist on your hard drive. Just imagine if they had to process that along with the millions of donations that they process each year?

Before wiping your hard drive clean, be sure that you back up whatever you might need from it. Remember that when you clean the hard drive that you will not be able to get anything back from it that you might need later down the road.

It is easy and free to erase your hard drive and there are many free online programs that can help you with this process. This site, for example, offers easy instructions and a program that you can download to help you erase your confidential information. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always hire a third party company to assist you.

Charlotte Clean & Green

photo credit: goodwillsp

Where do I drop my donations off?

To get your tax donation form, be sure to drop those donations off at Goodwill’s Drive-Thru Donation Centers at your nearest Goodwill store. The bonus that makes the trip entirely worth it is that our Michiana Goodwills offer coupons for every donation that you make. After you create a little space in your home from that donation, you can do a little shopping for another great piece to continue organizing your space!

If your donation is a bulky one, you can call 574.472.7334 and Goodwill will be happy to pick up. There are some areas they cannot pick up from, so call ahead to see if your location is within their range.

Basically, there are just no excuses for not getting rid of the electronic waste in your life!

My Story: Goodwill Industries International employee Sekeno Aldred

Why should I donate my items to Goodwill?

All of that electronic equipment that you donate to Goodwill has value. Whether it is an entirely working operating system or it is simply your empty ink cartridges, your items help Goodwill’s mission to provide jobs, training and placement services for people with barriers to employment. You can feel so proud that you finally weeded through your electronic clutter, happily accept your tax receipt, keep your electronics out of the landfill, and provide jobs for others.

I can think of no other reason than that to make Goodwill a place to unload the electronics gathering dust in your life!


Time to confess! What electronics are you hanging on to that you haven’t been able to part with? I will start the discussion with our Super Nintendo, a whole bin of random cords, an extra printer, an extra scanner, and two old cell phones. What is gathering dust at your house?

Amy Allen Clark is the Founder of MomAdvice.com, a web community where she shares advice on parenting, money-saving ideas, recipes, and solutions for work-at-home moms. Visit her site for more ideas on ways to live on a frugal budget!