Over at the Wall Street Journal, writer Katharine Bindley asked us to admit one thing to ourselves: Somewhere, in the back of a closet or an attic, we all have a box of unused cords and cables. Collected throughout a lifetime, their individual purpose remains unclear—yet you hold onto them in fear that you might, one day, need that mysterious white cable to fix your internet connection, or hook up your television, or, uh, solve some other, very important unforeseen tech issue at home.
Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s finally time to ditch the box once and for all. If you haven’t used a cord or cable in the last two years, you probably won’t ever need it. In fact, if you have any wires left over from a previous move, that’s an even better reason to ditch them; chances are you’ve forgotten their purpose entirely, and if you didn’t need them during the transition, you won’t ever really need them, period.
But what, then, are you to do with this box of cables you’ve so carefully collected over the years? Well, for one, don’t throw it in the trash. It’s electronic waste, and some contain dangerous chemicals, like lead or mercury, that can leak into landfills and water sources. You shouldn’t be so quick to throw them in your blue bin, either; chances are your local curbside recycling program won’t accept them.
Instead, you do have plenty of alternative recycling options when it comes to getting rid of your stash of cables. First, as Bindley recommends, you can drop off any cords or wires at a kiosk just outside of most Best Buy stores and they’ll recycle it on your behalf. Alternately, you can use Earth911’s search locator to find a nearby e-waste recycler which might strip out the metal components of your cables for recycling.
Certain Goodwill stores will also accept these wires as donations, too, in case you’d like your box of cables to do some good. (Again, use Earth911’s locator to find a Goodwill store near you.) Lastly, you can search for a nearby STEM program and contact them to find out if they’ll accept your wires. Chances are they might accept even accept older, outdated wires for educational purposes, as CNET writes.
And if you’re wondering how to get rid of the rest of your electronic waste, like say, your used phones or laptops, here’s our guide on the subject.