Computers are smart. But the truth is, they are not smart enough to understand us in our language. To get computers to do what we want them to do, we need to communicate with them in their language: the language of zeroes and ones.
Don’t get it? Let me explain.
Digital computers interpret everything as zeroes and ones. A calculation? Your computer does it using zeros and ones.
Saving a picture? It gets saved as zeros and ones. This article? Your computer is reading this as rows and rows of zeros and ones. This is called the binary code, and it differs greatly from the way we use zeros and ones in our calculations.
It’s pretty fascinating; look it up.
Anyway, since the way we interpret information and the way our computers interpret information is different, something is needed to act as a bridge between the two realms. That’s where input devices such as keyboards, mice, and gamepads come in.
Keyboards are the most common input devices we use to communicate with our computers. Sure, we now have voice commands and whatnot, but the popularity and necessity of keyboards are not going down anytime soon.
Since we use keyboards so much- I am writing on one right now. Would you believe it?- they eventually give up the good fight and die on us. Or maybe we, mere humans that we are, get seduced by some shiny new keyboard and replace our old one.
Whatever the reason, if you have a keyboard on your hands that you do not need anymore, it’s time to think of how you will get rid of it. And no, you shouldn’t just chuck it in a trash bin- that’s a very bad thing to do- we will talk about why at the end of the article. Then what are your options? Keep reading to find out.
Ways to Recycle Keyboard
Donate your keyboard
If your keyboard is working, donate it.
You can pass it down to someone in your family or acquaintances who may need a keyboard. Or you can donate to a charitable organization, such as the Cincinnati Computer Cooperative, that accepts such donations. Try to see if there is a World Computer Exchange near you. They will take your donations and deliver them to developing countries that need such resources.
It’s quite easy to find such organizations close to you: a google search or a call to the local municipal authorities should be enough.
Such charitable organizations generally use such donations to train underprivileged children in the US and abroad. When you donate such end-of-life products, you help provide education or a livelihood for someone less privileged.
Does Goodwill take old keyboards?
Yes, Goodwill accepts old keyboards, both the working and the broken ones, and they also accept a wide range of other electronic waste. Please take a look at their website to find out more about what they will take.
They are partnered with Dell’s Reconnect program to recycle or refurbish your old keyboards and other e-waste. They use such refurbished components to assemble cheap computers which someone in need could buy from Goodwill stores.
Locate a goodwill store near you, drop your old keyboard off, and just like that, you are officially a better human being.
Sell your keyboard
If you do not want to give your keyboard away, maybe you yourself need the bucks. Then sell it. You can sell your old keyboard as a part of a garage or yard sale that you or someone you know is arranging.
You can approach local retailers to see if they have a buyback program for old electronics. Or you can use online platforms such as eBay or Craigslist to sell your old keyboard.
There is always someone or another looking for cheap tech, and they will gladly take your keyboard off your hands. The money you get from the sale can also help fund your new purchase.
Turn your old keyboard into an art
You can recycle your old keyboard by turning it into art pieces and decor. This is a beautiful way to dispose of old and broken keyboards. Not only that, engaging in such an activity can give you some much time with yourself or your family.
Use the keys in a Scrabble-like manner to make some interesting stuff- from spelling out motivational quotes in a framed poster to clocks using the number keys to wrist bands or jewelry having initials. Your imagination is the limit here, but you might want to look up some more ideas on Pinterest.
You can create such pieces for yourself or for gifting to someone; either way, decor made from keyboards keys are usually head-turners.
Send your keyboard to a recycler
Keyboards can be recycled through electronic recycling programs available at almost all recycling centers. This is especially true if you live in one of the 25 states that have passed laws about e-waste recycling- you can see the list of such states at the Electronics Take Back Coalition website.
Check with your municipality or local recycler if they accept keyboards for recycling. Or go online and search for e-waste recycling centers near you. You can also try out retail outlets as they sometimes take electronic waste for recycling.
Does Best Buy accept old keyboards for recycling?
Best Buy accepts old devices like keyboards for recycling through its recycling program. Best Buy recycles some devices for free, while you may need to pay for recycling others.
They may even give you the option to trade in your end-of-life devices for a discount towards buying something from them. Click here to view the full list of products that Best Buy recycles as well as the recycling fees or trade-in options.
Small retailers also sometimes offer recycling services and may accept keyboards. So be sure to check with them too.
You may also come across e-waste recycling events where you can drop your keyboard off for recycling. Such events usually occur once or twice a year and are held by schools, churches, or private companies. If you know of any such recycling drives that are held in your locality, it may be a good idea to store your e-waste and donate it at such events instead of hauling them off to the recycler yourself.
Allowing professionals to pick up such waste also reduces your risk of hurting yourself from managing electronic waste.
But why put in all this effort? Looking for recyclers, dropping off your keyboard at the recycling center or retail store is so much work – why not just throw away the keyboard? Let’s look at why throwing keyboards away is such a bad idea.
Why Should you Recycle Keyboards?
Let’s start with what a keyboard is made of: plastic. As you know, plastic is one of the sturdiest materials on this planet: it can take nature thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, to break plastic down.
So keyboards, and anything made of plastic, if thrown away, will stick around for millennia. Such discarded plastics degrade soil and water, harm animals, and even find their way into our food!
If that weren’t enough, keyboards are coated with a brominated fire-retardant material, which prevents the keyboard from catching fire. That’s a good thing, you may be thinking, and to an extent, you are right- too many people smoke in front of computers.
But the fire retardant is a dangerous chemical, with many countries in Europe have banned its use over fears that it may cause cancer.
Now say your keyboard gets dumped in a landfill. That’s where most of the waste you produce ends up. While in a landfill, the brominated fire retardant will slowly leak out of your keyboard and into the ground, polluting not only the soil but also groundwater. And who is going to drink that water? You.
Yes, imagine drinking that chemical-laced water.
Maybe your keyboard will not go to the landfill, and it will go to the incinerator. Phew. No more chemicals in your water. But burning plastic produces toxic gasses like dioxins and furans, which can cause cancers, reproductive problems, and a whole range of health issues. And guess who will also be breathing in those toxic fumes? You!
If that doesn’t convince you to recycle your keyboard, I don’t know what will.
Throwing away electronic waste such as your old keyboard means harming the environment and, eventually, yourself and your family. Instead, if it is working, give it away to someone who may need a keyboard or sell it to make some bucks yourself. If the keyboard is broken, turn it into DIY art or send it for recycling.
Local municipalities, retail stores, and others will take in your old keyboard and safely recycle it. You may even get trade-in discounts or money for recycling your keyboard. Ask around or search on the internet to locate such recycling opportunities near you.