Disposing of old appliances

I received an email from a reader the other day who faces a problem many of us face in the battle to go green. Kate writes:

“I want to buy some energy efficient appliances, but the ones I currently have work just fine, and I’m wondering if throwing them away nullifies the benefit of having energy efficient appliances. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sell them or donate them anyway, since they don’t look all that pretty.”

Kate, I know how you feel. I have a TV that’s nearly 30 years old – it’s a family heirloom really :). Works perfectly, but is a little heavy on the juice. Looks ancient, can’t sell it, can’t give it away – and I have tried. I’ve decided to keep it, mainly because it’s not used all that long each day and there’s now emotional ties given it’s been in the family since I was a kid. Damn my parents and their insistence on buying quality! :)

Probably the best thing to do if you really want to get rid of them is to see if any of your local recyclers can do something with the items. Another place to try is Earth911.org (assuming you’re in the USA). You can type in the appliance and your location and it will list any companies or groups that might take it off your hands.

If you have no luck there and if you can afford the space, perhaps keep them until an opportunity arises to give them away somehow. The other option is to repurpose them – for example, a fridge makes and excellent garage cupboard.

It also depends greatly on how more efficient the new appliances are compared to the old. For example, again with fridges, some old ones are so inefficient that if you’ve had good use from your current one, then it’s probably not such a bad thing to buy a new unit, as long it’s of good quality too.

… and something I forgot to mention to Kate is the use of freecycle type services to advertise old appliances.


Reuse vs recycle
Recycling energy savings
Planned obsolescence
Perceived obsolescence