On our most recent Internet of Things Podcast, Chris called in with a great question about used smart home gear. Having gone through more connected devices than most people, Stacey and I have dealt with responsibly recycling, or repurposing, our used smart home products. So we have five suggestions to consider when eliminating smart home e-waste.
Before sharing them, it’s worth emphasizing a key point. Prior to getting rid of any connected devices, be sure to remove any of your accounts associated with them. You can typically do that in the device’s app and/or also in your main home platform app. Think Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Home here. Additionally, if there’s a way to factory reset the device, consider doing that as well.
Consider repurposing when it makes sense
There’s nothing wrong with passing your gently used connected devices to family or friends. I’ve done this in the past and as a result, that person not only got their first smart home device but ended up buying many more. So this can be a great way to introduce people to the world of smart homes.
However, not every device should be passed along. In particular, if you know that your older device no longer has, or soon won’t have software support, it’s probably best to recycle it. You don’t want to introduce security holes and frustration to your friends or family. Well, that might depend on your family, but you get the idea.
Sell it instead of trashing it
Instead of adding to the trash heap, you could always sell a product you’re no longer using. Stacey has used eBay for this in the past, making it a good place to recoup a small amount of your investment. I’ve bought and sold at least a dozen items on Swappa although those were laptops, tablets, and phones.
However, Swappa has recently added a “Home Tech” category for buyers and sellers. A recent check of inventory shows a range of smart speakers and displays, for example, as well as thermostats, robot vacuums, and cameras. Personally, I’ve found the Swappa community a pleasure to interact with. And the platform reviews every sale submission to determine that the products are being fairly represented.
Check with your local government for options
If you can’t sell or donate your gear, check to see if your local municipality holds any e-waste events. Mine actually does and I take advantage of it every time. Yes, they know me well! The goods from these collections find their way to responsible recycling organizations so you know they’re not going to end up in a landfill. Stacey also suggests checking with your local transfer station (which is the new name for “dumps” apparently) to see if they offer any electronic waste recycling.
Best Buy doesn’t just sell devices
Over the years I’ve taken a number of electronic devices over to Best Buy. Initially, the company took televisions and appliances, but these days, the range of accepted devices for recycling is much broader.
Aside from large appliances and some TVs, there’s no charge to drop off your old smart home gear. You’ll want to check the list, or simply ask at the store, to see what products the retailer will accept. Note that you can only drop off three items per day, so plan your trips wisely!
What about those light bulbs?
We haven’t seen any places to specifically recycle smart bulbs. And these are the connected items I go through the most, so I have at least a dozen used bulbs stored in my basement.
However, I do know that Lowe’s accepts various bulbs for recycling. There are typically bins to deposit these at the front of the store. Lowes officially takes CFL, fluorescent, incandescent and LED bulbs. There’s no mention if they can be smart bulbs though. The next time you’re at a Lowe’s, it might be worth asking if smart bulbs are acceptable. And then let me know so I can clean my basement!
To hear Chris’s question, as well as our discussion in full on the topic, tune in to the Internet of Things Podcast below: