4 ways to recycle your old laptop or PC

Best Laptops for Drawing and Artwork
(Image credit: ConvertKit / Unsplash)

Getting a new computer is pretty great, especially if it enables you to play those games you've always wished you could, or to start the career you've always wanted. But buying one of the best laptops or best computers often means that you're left with the old model. So what do you do with it?

Nobody wants their old tech to find its way into landfill, and there's a good chance that while that machine can't meet your needs, it will be ideal for someone else. But even if that's not the case, it should never just be thrown in the trash.

With that in mind, we've come up with four ways you could put your old laptop or PC to good use.

Before you start: delete all the things

Whatever route you take, you're going to need to make sure to remove your data from your computer before it leaves your possession. There are ways to factory reset laptops, and you can factory reset Macs as well.

1. Give it to a local school

students in a classroom with their hands raised

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Schools are often underfunded, especially in their IT departments, and you can usually find computer rooms filled with aging machines that are in a terrible state. That's hardly the best way to introduce kids to computers and it's definitely not a great way for them to learn how to most of them, either.

If your old computer works well enough and isn't too old you could reach out to any local schools and kindergartens to see if they could make use of your old machine. As described above, just remember to clear off any old files and software before donating it, so they're starting with a fresh operating system.

2. Gift it to a library

Libraries are often in an even worse situation than schools when it comes to funding, especially when it comes to things like information technology. Libraries can be a vital part of the local community, and some people who don't have a computer at home rely on them for accessing email, printing shipping labels, and more.

Contacting your local library to ask if they could use your old computer is a great way to give it a new lease of life and help other people at the same time. They'll likely also want a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, so be sure to pass on any of the old accessories that are no longer needed, too.

3. Find a new use for it at home

Just because you have a new computer it doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have a new use for your old one.

Older computers that you don't rely on for day-to-day things like work and play can be a great way to test out new projects, teach yourself how they work, and more. You don't need a high-powered power-hungry computer to set up a home server, run a personalized ad-blocker and firewall, or host a website, for instance – in fact, you might be surprised at just how many things that old computer can still do.

To get you started, we've put together a list of 7 cool uses for your old laptop or PC. Some of them might even make you some extra cash as a bonus.

4. Recycle if it's the end of the road

Rubbish dump

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Sometimes a computer is just beyond finding a new home for, no matter how much you try. It might be that nobody in your area needs it or that there are components missing or broken altogether. Whatever the reason that it's time to say goodbye to your old laptop or PC, there are better ways to get rid of it than to drop it in the trash can and wave it on its way.

There are specialist companies that can deal with e-waste and they'll help dispose of the various components in a safe and mindful manner. Your local district or county (or council in the UK) might also offer something similar, as might the local waste recycling center. Google is your friend here, as are your local government websites.

You might also like

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back.