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Digital Overload

You've sorted all the clothes, books and kitchenware for donation, but what to do with all these old electronics? Here's how to unload them without weighing down your conscience.


There's the computer that still reads floppies, and the extra, extra TV–the one from 1987. And it's likely that you have an old cell phone kicking around, because according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person replaces a cell phone every 18 months. What to do with the "ancient" Personal Data Assistant you've recently replaced with the super combo Pod/Berry/Generation Way Beyond Next/Tel?

Most people know what to do with their traditional discards, such as clothing, but many are not sure about their digital items–and for good reason. There are security concerns (personal information needs to be deleted), environmental issues (proper disposal of batteries) and the donate-versus-sell question.

For a safe way to dispose of old rechargeable batteries, such as those found in cell phones, laptop computers and power tools, drop them off at any O'ahu Radio Shack or Home Depot as part of a national program funded by rechargeable battery manufacturers. If you are a household disposing of a single broken computer, you can put it out in the trash or call for bulky pickup. But if you're a business with several, check with the Hazardous Waste Division, state Department of Health, on regulations first.

This chart is designed to help you pick a good home for your particular item. It includes online resources, too, such as the international eBay and regional craigslist, where electronics are among the most heavily trafficked items (eBay even allows sellers to donate their proceeds to charities). If you're still in doubt, call first, as items that cannot be taken in or easily appropriated will head to the landfill, where you'd intended to avoid sending them in the first place.

Be sure the equipment is in
working and saleable condition.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Goodwill; Salvation Army; Savers; Assistance League of Hawai'i; eBay; craigslist.
Some thrift stores accept these items; others don't.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Goodwill; Salvation Army; Assistance League of Hawai'i; The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; eBay; craigslist. Savers; Domestic Violence Clearinghouse (unless a large number donated from a single source at one time).
Because of their transient nature, these items can be among the most difficult to donate.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Salvation Army; Assistance League of Hawai'i; Hawai'i Computers for Kids; Hawai'i Computer Recycling; eBay; craigslist. Goodwill; Savers.
Most organizations accept these items, though Goodwill categorizes just the PDAs with the computers it doesn't accept.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Salvation Army; Savers; Assistance League of Hawai'i; eBay; craigslist; Goodwill (digital music players only). Goodwill (PDAs only).
Size and environmental concerns prevent several–but not all–organizations from accepting items like washers and dryers, stoves and refrigerators.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Salvation Army; City & County of Honolulu; Hawai'i Metal Recycling; eBay; craigslist. Goodwill; Savers; Assistance League of Hawai'i.
Television size and condition are concerns for some organizations. DVD or VCR players and movies are readily accepted by all.
VolunteerHawaii.org; Salvation Army; Savers; eBay; craigslist; Goodwill (only TVs smaller than 19 inches); Assistance League of Hawai'i (table-top TVs only).
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Honolulu Magazine June 2019
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