Stories & Features

De-clutter your home: recycle old appliances and electronics

Image of various small appliances
Older appliances that are still working could find a new home through Craigslist or by donating to the likes of the Canadian Diabetes Association. Or they can be recycled at an ElectroRecycle depot.

In with the new and out with the old

Jacqueline Lambert
bchydro.com

My roommate was recently gifted of one of those high-performance blenders.

As the owner of a hand-me-down blender that my parents received as a wedding gift about 35 years ago, I realized I likely wouldn't have much use for it any more. The old blender was well-used, so I knew my best bet was to recycle it, but wasn't quite sure where.

A quick Google search led me to the ElectroRecycle™ website and what surprised me was how many depots there were right in my neighbourhood.

In scanning the list of over 400 appliances and electronics that the recycling depots accept, I discovered I had other items I could unload along with the blender. My old clock radio featuring cassette tape capabilities has long since been replaced by my smartphone and wireless speakers, and an old hair straightener and hair dryer was added to the pile. I was surprised how comprehensive the list of recyclable items [PDF, 682 KB] was.

If the latest kitchen tools topped your holiday wish list or you scored a great deal on some the hottest gadgets on Boxing Day, now is the perfect time to clear out some clutter.

Unplugging old electronics can reduce electricity use, too

Did you know old electronics, like televisions, computers, and video game consoles still use electricity even when they're turned off? They can be a source of standby power if they're still plugged in, which can add up on your electricity bill.

Instead of moving the old TV to a spare bedroom, or putting your old, slow, desktop computer in the basement, you could consider recycling them instead.

According to a survey of British Columbians, 74% of us have old, broken or unwanted products at home. And before the ElectroRecycle™ program launched, 2 million electrical products were dumped in the landfill each year. With over 200 recycling depots across the province accepting everything from small appliances, electronics, and more, it'll be easy to find a drop-off location near you.

And don't forget to recycle those old light bulbs. LightRecycle's expanded services now accept everything from CFLs to fluorescent tubes and LEDs, and their handy collection site locator makes it easy to find a recycling location near you.

Items that are still working can be reused instead of recycled

If your old gadgets aren't quite ready for the recycling depot, there are ways to get rid of them.

Recently, I was helping my friend pack up her place before she moved into a new apartment. Buried deep within her kitchen cupboard she found an electronic hand mixer which was a duplicate of one she already had. Although it was a bit old and dated, the mixer was basically unused.

While brainstorming what to do with it, she realized she had a few options.

A friend of ours was moving into her old apartment, so one possibility was to leave the mixer behind for him, and hope that he would be able to get some use out of it. Another route might have been to list the mixer on Craigslist, or Kijiji to make a little money off of it – or to just give it away. Use Craigslist to give stuff away, or consider donating to a charity like the Canadian Diabetes Association or Big Brothers, both of which will actually come to your house and pick up small appliances and electronics, in addition to clothing, blankets and other housewares.

Ultimately, my friend ended up passing the mixer along to a co-worker who had mentioned she was looking for one.

As the old adage goes, one person's trash is another person's treasure.

These days, technology has simplified how we buy and sell used products. My social media news feed is full of swap-and-shop groups, and websites like Varage Sale, a virtual, online garage sale, have really taken communities across B.C. by storm.

It's never been easier to sell or trade your older household electronics and appliances to someone who might get some use out of it.

Want to get started? Find a recycling depot nearby.

Jacqueline Lambert is a writer-editor with bchydro.com.