Ho-ho-hold on to your old smart home tech. Don’t throw it away — it can make a great Christmas gift.
Whether you managed to find a great deal on some new smart speakers or you were gifted an upgrade on your smart light bulbs, it’s very possible you’ll find yourself with a few too many gadgets kicking around the house. Sure, you can stash the old ones away for a rainy day, but after gathering dust for so long, you’ll likely need clear out them out eventually. Kicking these devices to the curb is an utter waste when they’re still perfectly serviceable. Let’s see if we can find a better home for your old smart home tech.
First things first, no matter where these gadgets are going, you’ll want to make sure you’ve performed a factory reset on them. You don’t want to have lingering user data on them when you hand them off. You’ll also want to make sure you have all the appropriate power supplies and wiring needed to have the device up and running. Original packaging and documentation are nice, but not entirely necessary. So long as you’ve got a box with some protective padding inside, your smart home gadget should be ready to hand off.
Friends and family
Friends and family are a great first stop for old smart home tech. Folks who aren’t necessarily on the bleeding edge of smart home tech may appreciate an introduction to smart thermostats, and won’t particularly care if it is isn’t the latest model. Keep your ears open for any passing interest in these things among your social circle, and you could have a birthday or Christmas present ready in no time. As an added bonus, you get to spend time with the giftee to help them set it all up.
Facebook is host to a wide range of neighborhood groups that thrive on recycling. Folks who have extra stuff around the house will post a picture of the thing and give a rough pickup location. Those who are interested comment, and the original poster sends a message to whoever they like to arrange the swap. These groups are typically populated by offers for standard housewares, so when electronics pop up, they tend to be quite popular. Kijiji and Craigslist are big destinations for free stuff, too, and a bit more private. Even devices that you may figure are long past their prime are likely to find a home through groups like these. Of course, you need to coordinate the handoff, but that’s the only real complication. In the process, you get to meet your neighbors, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find something useful to pick up yourself after joining the group.
Community exchange apps
A slightly more structured form of this sort of community regifting is available through apps. They have mechanisms whereby you can build a catalog of stuff you’re willing to part with, post what you’re looking for in return, and search through nearby listings. Messaging systems are built in so you can coordinate without anyone needing know your Facebook profile or phone number. We’ve used one called Bunz that has a fairly active community, and includes its own mock currency you can use to “buy” or “sell” goods.
Local charities may also be open to getting electronics. Since shops like Salvation Army tend to primarily house clothes and kitchenware, even the old first-gen Chromecast would be a hot ticket item that would generate plenty of interest. The charities in your area that accept smart home tech will vary by region, but you’re sure to find a few with some cursory googling.
If jumping through all these hoops just to give something away seems like too much work, maybe you don’t actually want to gift it. Instead, maybe you want to sell it and earn back a little bit of what you spent on it in the first place. Our tips for selling a used phone are broadly applicable, and can be used as guidelines for selling smart home tech as well. Just keep in mind that this might actually be more work since fewer people will be willing to pay for your gear, and you’re likely to have some back-and-forth haggling over prices.
If none of those options work out, your last resort is to toss the gadget out. Since these pieces of kit are chock-full of chemicals, you need to find a reputable e-cycling partner in your area. These folks will do the best they can with what you drop off. Even then, the track record for e-cycling is rather poor, so this really should be considered a last resort.
Regifting old tech is a big step toward minimizing our ballooning e-waste problem. Building a circular economy ensures that we’re still using what still works, and that the garbage dump isn’t our first solution for the problem of having too much stuff.
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