Get the most from your gadgets

While new electronic gadgets are often more efficient, the most environmentally friendly option is to keep the ones you have as long as possible, only replacing them when they can no longer be used.

But…batteries have an ever-decreasing life, processors slow down as they run more programs and apps, and screens get broken. It is important to learn how to make the most of your gadgets by maintaining them and fixing what you can before deciding to buy a replacement.

Follow these steps to maintain, repair, and then when you must replace, be sure to recycle.

• Regularly download pictures and videos and delete them from your device to free up storage space. If your device supports external storage, such as a MicroSD card, get one and use it instead of the internal hard drive.
• Don’t let the battery go dead before charging it to full; charge a little at a time, as often as possible. Leave your laptop plugged in while you use it and unplugged when it’s turned off. Don’t expose your device to high temperatures. Learn about depth of charge and how it affects battery life.
• Use both a case and a screen protector for cell phones, e-readers, and tablets.
• Frequently clear the cache to keep your device running smoothly.

• Find a local repair service. Broken screens are common on smartphones which are pulled in and out of pockets, purses, and backpacks many times a day. Many services have sprung up to replace screens and perform repairs on a variety of electronic devices. If you don’t know of a nearby repair shop, search online for “Electronics Repair Near Me.”
• Learn to repair your own devices at, a site catering to do-it-yourselfers. This is a user-generated site (commonly known as a “wiki”), which provides directions, videos, and an answer forum, as well as a shop for parts and tools you might need to repair your device.

• When you have exhausted all attempts to maintain and repair your electronics, safely recycle them. Recycling electronics not only reduces waste, but also conserves energy. Recycling one million laptops saves energy equivalent to all of the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. Electronics recycling conserves resources and creates jobs, too.
• As you consider your replacement, look for devices that will last a long time. Ask whether there are options for expandable memory, replaceable batteries, and upgradable systems. The phone or other electronic device that is best for the environment is the one that lasts the longest, taking the greatest advantage of the resources and energy that were used to make it.
• Donate or sell working electronics for reuse.
• Contact your local solid waste agency for locations to recycle your unneeded and broken electronics or search for them online. And some stores, like Best Buy, accept electronics for recycling.

Photo credit: daboost |  iStock | Getty Images Plus

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