How To Unload Unneeded Cables from Your Old Electronic Devices

If you’ve been an Apple fan for awhile, you probably have cords/cables you no longer need. It might just be a 30-pin cable for an older iPhone or iPod, it could be a Powerbook wall adapter, or maybe even some SCSI or ADB cables that continue to age in a forgotten box or drawer.

It seems odd to just throw them out, but what should you do with them if you don’t even have the corresponding device anymore? Or more likely, you have all you need and yet everything comes with another micro-USB cable? Having come up against this myself just this weekend, I have some suggestions.

First of all, take inventory. Scoop up all those cables from all through the house and put em in a pile. Once you have them all in one place, assess what you need—one per device that’s currently in use at a minimum, then a few strategic ones like in a guest room or a common area where devices end up charging.

Once you have what you need, the rest can be sent off to a new life. Start by making sure your friends and family all have what they need too. Perhaps they need extras for car charging or computer bags or whatever. Maybe that will resolve your issue. 

I got 30 pin problems and a...wait. 

If you live in Portland, there is a non-profit organization called FreeGeek that will take donations of unused electronics, including power and other assorted cables. They use some, offer some in their physical and online shops, and work with recyclers for the rest. In the rest of Oregon, the Oregon E-Cycle web page will help you find a place to recycle that older technology and even larger things like older televisions and appliances.

Just because you aren’t in Oregon doesn’t mean you have no options. Both Staples and Best Buy (caution: autoplay sound) have recycling available for free. I haven’t seen the system Staples has in place, but Best Buy has a few bins near the doors and you just drop things in. I asked and confirmed the cables can go in the same bin as mobile phones.

There are also recycling programs available from 1-800-Recycling and the National Center for Electronics Recycling which will help you locate facilities in your area which accept cables. I called a few places around Portland and they all said they’d take a small pile of cables for free.

I tried to find art projects or other neat things people did with their unneeded cables, but I came up empty. If you have any ideas or links to good ideas for cable re-use, let’s see them!