Earth Day: Save money, Save the planet— Purchase refurbished electronics

April 22 is Earth Day. Encouragingly, this is now the largest civic event in the world, with billions of people participating in Earth Day activities and calling for solutions to our planet’s problems.

One of those problems is e-waste. We generate over 60 million tons a year and only about a quarter of it is recycled. The rest is dumped in landfills, legal and not, where it leeches heavy metals and other toxics into the ground, the groundwater and often into nearby crops.

Want to be part of the solution? Here’s one way to help. Next time you’re buying a new electronic device, buy refurbished. We know. Refurbished? Like, used? No, actually, not like used. Refurbished electronics are not what they were. These days, they’re virtually the same as new. They’re reliable, affordable and available direct from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Bose and Microsoft.

Refurbished is different from “used”

Refurbished devices are much better than used. They usually have been cleaned, inspected and tested. In a properly refurbished device, tired batteries and damaged parts have been replaced. They should work like new and they should have a lot of life left in them.

Many of the refurbished devices for sale have been traded in by their previous owners not because the devices were defective but because the owners wanted an upgrade. Many are barely used devices returned by buyers who’ve had second thoughts.

Most used devices don’t come with a warranty but refurbished devices from reputable sellers do, often up to a year. If you find a seller that does not offer a warranty, find a different seller.

These manufacturers sell refurbished devices

You can frequently buy refurbished devices direct from manufacturers. Before they sell the devices, most manufacturers inspect them, repair them with original parts, replace the batteries, then test them. They do a thorough job of wiping all data from previous owners and return devices to a fresh state. They ship refurbished devices to you in a new box with the same manuals, accessories, cables and operating system as a brand-new device.

Apple’s refurbished site offers Macs, iPads, iPhones, Apple Watches, AirPods and more.

Samsung’s refurbished site sells only Galaxy phones, no other Samsung devices or electronics.

Microsoft’s refurbished site has Surface devices and Xbox gaming consoles.

If you’re looking for audio equipment, Bose, Sonos and JBL have sites selling refurbished headphones, earbuds and soundbars. All of them undergo the same testing, repair, reconditioning and cleaning as the devices mentioned above. In other words, what you get is like new, with the same return window and warranty as new products.

If you’re looking for a particular brand not mentioned above, just Google the brand name and “refurbished.” If it’s a big brand, it will likely have a site selling refurbished devices, as Dell, HP and Acer do. Or you can go to a retail site—many of the big retailers sell refurbished electronics.

These retailers sell refurbished devices

The downside of retail sites is that the refurbishment probably has been done by a third party. The upside is that these sites have a wide variety of devices to choose from, all in one place.

eBay Refurbished has Apple, Samsung, Bose, Acer, Dell, HP, Sony and much more. All devices are refurbished, functional and come with a 1-year or 2-year warranty. You can choose from various conditions and pay more or less, depending on how “new” you want your device to look. There’s Certified Pristine (“pristine, like-new condition direct from the brand or authorized seller”) down to Good (“moderate wear from quality-vetted sellers”). All can be returned free within a 30-day window.

Newegg, the online electronics retailer that’s a little more wonky, has a large refurbished site. It offers products from desktops to servers to laptops to phones.

Most big-box retailers like Walmart and Target have a site selling refurbished electronics. The warranties they offer tend not to be as long as those given by manufacturers—or they tend not to exist at all, so proceed with caution.

We hesitate to recommend Amazon, especially on Earth Day, because its impact on the Earth is immense and largely negative. For example, did you know that, in 2021, Amazon generated enough plastic waste to cover the planet in 800 layers? And that Amazon would have “no problem” switching to plastic-free packaging but lacks the will? That said, it is Amazon. It’s quick, easy and you’ve probably got an account there. Amazon Renewed has that Amazon-size selection of refurbished stuff, much of it electronics. All of it is inspected, tested and comes with a 90-day warranty.

CREDO Mobile has refurbished phones on sale

We’re celebrating Earth Day with a big sale on refurbished phones, which have a much smaller footprint than new phones—and a much smaller price tag.

Shop our Refurb Madness sale and save $300 or more on a refurbished phone. We have a great discount on the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the iPhone 14 Pro, but supplies are limited so act fast.