Is your attic, basement, closet or junk drawer an e-graveyard? For many of us, the answer is “yes.” Gadget ghosts are haunting our homes.
Millions of Americans now own cellphones, smartphones, laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and other electronic devices. In many cases, we own several, if not all, of these gadgets. But what happens to your old iPhone, for instance, when you upgrade to the latest and greatest version?
In many of our homes, these electronic remnants simply pile up, contributing to the ever-escalating problem of e-clutter. A survey taken this year for SpareFoot found that among American couples who quarrel over clutter, 28 percent argue about electronics.
One simple solution to this digital dilemma comes from professional organizer Kate Pawlowski: “Be aware of what you are buying so you don’t end up with unnecessary goods to clutter up your home.”
Beyond that, what can you do to erase your e-clutter? Here are seven suggestions.
1. Keep Your Devices Handy.
“The only way to cope with electronic clutter is to only keep what is currently in use within arm’s reach. As a professional organizer, I run across boxes of outdated, obsolete electronics every day,” professional organizer Andrea Brundage said.
2. Set Up a Tech Hub.
Professional organizer Caroline Guntur recommends creating a digital “station” in your home where you store and charge all of your electronic gadgets.
“If this place also has a computer nearby, even better, because I think we all know that it’s not the devices that matter so much, but what’s on them, and a computer will make syncing and regular backups a breeze,” Guntur said.
Professional organizer Sara Skillen offers this advice for setting up your tech hub:
Designate the top drawer of a cabinet or desk close to an electrical outlet. Use a large drill bit (at least 1 inch) to drill a hole in the back of the drawer for the cords. Thread your device cords through the hole, and plug them into the outlet.
3. Take Inventory.
Sift through all of your electronic devices and figure out why you have them.
“How many devices do you need? Are you using them all?” professional organizer Alison Kero said. “Are they helping you be productive, or are you distracted from all the games and social media sites?”
4. Sell Unwanted Devices.
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Tired of staring at the unused iPhone 5 that’s collecting dust on your kitchen counter? Try selling it to collect some cash. Among the options are Gazelle.com, ecoATM, eBay and Craigslist.
Visit GadgetValuer.com to compare buy-back offers from various sites.
5. Donate Unwanted Devices.
Any number of charities will accept your old devices. These include Goodwill, women’s shelters and Cell Phones for Soldiers. Friends and relatives also might appreciate your digital hand-me-downs.
Be sure to wipe your data from the devices before they’re redistributed, or get assurance from the charity that your data will be erased from the devices, Brundage said.
6. Recycle Unwanted Devices.
Retailers like Best Buy and Staples will recycle old electronic devices. To find an e-recycling center in your area, visit greenergadgets.org.
7. “Upcycle” Old Gadgets.
On Pinterest, CompareMyMobile.com has assembled an array of ordinary and odd ways to reuse old electronic devices, such as creating jewelry and clothing. To get inspired, visit pinterest.com/comparemymobile/upcycled-gadgets. Also, check out this article from MakeUseOf.com about inventive ways to “upcycle” your cellphone.