Sara’s Tech Tips: Spring Cleaning Your Gadgets

February 20, 2011 at 10:16 am , by

sara _0079Editor’s Note: We’re excited to introduce LHJ’s new tech contributor, Sara Haines of NBC’s Today show! This month she’s got some great tips for spring cleaning your tech clutter.

Chances are, you’ve got an old cell phone or two stuffed in a drawer. Maybe you have an outdated TV gathering dust in the basement or a printer that doesn’t really work any more. Most of these gadgets can’t even be fixed (or in many cases it’s cheaper to buy a new one). Or maybe your kids had to have that new game system and quickly forgot the old one. But what should we do with all this tech clutter? Unlike your usual spring cleaning, it’s not as simple as dropping these outdated tech toys into the trash. Some of the materials, like the cathode ray tubes in televisions, can be hazardous in landfills, and other items that still work can be donated instead of ditched. Here are my three favorite tips to help you “spring clean” responsibly when it comes to your has-been electronics.

Company “take back” programs. Many big chain stores (such as Staples and Best Buy) and manufacturers (like Apple and Sony) have beefed up their “green” game by offering incentives or resources to recycle old consumer gadgets. Check out Engadget to find the most comprehensive list (including stores, manufacturers, and government agencies) for these “take back” programs.

Recycling. The resources are available for electronic recycling vary depending on where you live, but many gadgets can be recycled. Here are a few sites that can help you find the best options for your area. and both allow you to search for a recycling center by ZIP code. is also a great resource to find collection events taking place locally.

Tech patience. Practice self control when it comes to new gadgets. It may be hard for you (or your husband or kids) to pass up that shiny new gizmo, but holding out for the second round of a product gives manufacturers time to work out early developmental glitches. Buying later also practically guarantees a lower price. Patience is a virtue that will reduce electronic waste while saving you money!

Staying Connected: The Best Gift of All

January 7, 2010 at 10:08 am , by

Picture 1Ah, the holidays. That time of year when you gather together with your family and share some holiday cheer. But what if your family lives far away? My husband’s little sister lives in Florida, so we’ve never been able to spend Christmas with her. And believe me, she would love to see her nieces tear open their gifts. So this year, with the help of a little technology, we were able to make that happen.

It was Christmas morning and the girls had been up since 7:00 am. Squeals of Disney Princess joy were filling my parent’s living room. And then we got the best gift of all—the gift of being together. Without anyone knowing, my husband had sneaked away to call his sister on Skype, right before the girls opened their gifts from Aunt Paola. There was Aunt Paola right on the screen wearing a Santa hat! Pablo was even able to put the laptop on the floor so his sister could watch Sophia open the Barbie Glamour Camper that she sent. It was like she was really there—a perfect Christmas moment.

So, tell me: How did technology bring you closer to your loved ones this holiday season?

(Photo by me using my new techy Christmas present, a Nikon D5000!)