The budget’s finally been approved, and your office’s cache of outdated Windows XP machines and dot-matrix printers is about to be replaced by a new generation of laptops and tablets. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to gather the cords, monitors and other decommissioned electronics and head to the trash: It’s not safe, it’s not secure and it’s not smart.

Learn 4 options for getting rid of old technology

Can’t I just throw it away?

Computers, phones and other forms of e-waste can cause serious environmental damage. Without proper recycling, toxic substances or heavy metals contained within electronic equipment can contaminate groundwater sources and cause soil erosion, potentially affecting the health of your local community.

Fortunately, many e-waste disposal and recycling services exist throughout the country. They offer an easy path toward sustainability while bringing new life to the plastics and metals contained within old devices. Here are some popular methods for getting rid of old technology, including computers, tablets, phones and virtually anything that can be plugged into a port:

1. Recycling

First and foremost, before heading to the proverbial green bin, back up and delete any important data stored on your computer’s hard drive or removable media like SD cards. After moving crucial files to your new systems, delete, overwrite, encrypt and format all disks to prevent unauthorized recovery. For added security, take the extra step and remove the hard drives from your old devices and physically destroy them. (And to stop the spread of viruses or ransomware, be sure to scan these devices before using them with your new equipment.)

When it comes to bulk recycling, an Office Depot Tech Recycling Box offers a cost-effective and efficient way to pack up boxes upon boxes of old tech. Available in small, medium and large sizes, these handy containers can be packed with up to 40 lbs of acceptable office electronics — everything from digital cameras to DVD players — and dropped off at any Office Depot or OfficeMax location nationwide. Other retailers, like Best Buy and Target, offer electronics recycling bins at most of their stores nationwide.

2. Donating

Several charities and nonprofit organizations accept donations of electronic items and put them to good use. Through programs like Goodwill e-Cycle, donated devices are refurbished and resold through the Goodwill ReTech eBay storefront. And Verizon’s Hopeline takes donated cell phones and accessories and makes them available for survivors of domestic abuse.

3. Trading In

If your computer equipment remains usable and in good physical condition, it’s worth considering a trade-in program. Manufacturers like Apple, retailers like Amazon and third-party electronics traders like Gazelle offer cash or store credit for computer equipment in working condition. Depending on the age and shape your device is in, it might not be worth much, but you’ll rest assured that your electronics have been properly recycled or given a second life.

4. Disposing

For old printers, broken equipment, and other electronics not worth salvaging, your best bet might be to simply call a waste disposal service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Available nationwide, 1-800-GOT-JUNK can swing by your office to remove electronic waste by the truckload for a nominal fee.

Contact us today if you have any questions on how to dispose of your old technology.