How to repurpose your old tech to give it new life

Samantha Cossick

Dec 5, 2019 — 4 min read

The end of the year doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your old tech. We’ve got some ideas to help you get creative and reusing it.

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December 18 each year marks National Regifting Day, and in the spirit of regifting and giving new life to old devices, we’ve outlined some of the best ways to reuse old tech.

What to do with old cellphones

Whether you’ve got some clunky old Nokia phones laying around or a smartphone that’s no longer in use because you upgraded, here are some ideas on how to repurpose or regift your old cellphone:

  • Alarm clock: Most doctors say snoozing with your phone nearby isn’t the best of habits so break it by storing your phone elsewhere to charge and using an old cellphone as an alarm clock.
  • Camera: The Pixlplay lets you turn your old smartphone into a kid’s camera by just snapping it into the case. They’ll have fun capturing moments and you won’t have to worry about them getting online.
  • Emergency phone: All phones connect to 911 whether or not they have service. Use an old phone as an emergency phone for your child or store it somewhere else, like your car or the kitchen, to make emergency calls.
  • GPS: Google Maps lets you download areas and directions to navigate offline. This means that as long as you download where you’re going while still Wi-Fi connected, you can use your old smartphone as a GPS without wasting power or data on your new smartphone.
  • Music player: Upload music to the phone or download music to the device from your favorite music streaming service and use it as a music player in the gym so you won’t be interrupted or give it to your kids so they can listen to their own tunes in the backseat.
  • Remote control: Chances are you have a few streaming services and a streaming device. Use an old smartphone that’s still Wi-Fi-connected as a pseudo-Universal remote to control all of your streaming services.

What to do with old laptops

If your laptop is old but still functional, here’s some ideas to give it new life:

  • Children’s computer: If it still gets online but is maybe a bit slower, think about removing all extra applications and setting up parental controls on the web browsers so your kids can get online safely.
  • Digital photo frame: Make a slideshow of your favorite family memories and put them on repeat. You may need to get clever with disguising the keyboard, but it’s doable.
  • Emergency hotspot: For those hard-to-reach space in your home, set up your old laptop as an emergency hotspot. Whenever you need to work in the basement because everyone’s streaming upstairs, for instance, you can ensure a good connection.
  • Media player: If your old laptop still runs on a full charge, you can use it as a media player to let your kids watch DVDs in the back of the car or in the tent while camping.
  • Security monitor: Instead of buying a separate security monitor or constantly having to check this on your phone, sync your home security system up to your old laptop to show  a live feed at all times.

What to do with old tablets

Before you toss that old tablet, consider some of these options for reusing or regifting it:

  • Baby monitor: A lot of newer baby monitors come with apps and live streaming feeds that you can set up on a Wi-Fi-connected tablet without having to purchase another piece of baby equipment.
  • Children’s tablet: If you don’t want your child’s apps mixed in with yours, or you’ve heard “Mom can I use your phone” one too many times. Set up some parental controls so they can only access approved content and use an old tablet for your kids.
  • Digital cookbook: Recipe cards can get messy in the kitchen and they fade over time. Store all of your recipes (complete with notes and photos) in one place digitally on an old tablet. Just wipe it down if it gets messy.
  • Digital photo frame: Like an old laptop, you can use an old tablet as a digital photo frame. Just upload all of your favorite photos and set it up as a slideshow on a loop.
  • E-book reader: As long as you can still access the free Kindle app, Apple’s iBooks or Google’s Play store over Wi-Fi, you can use an old tablet as a dedicated e-book reader.
  • Media player: Use an old tablet to download movies and TV shows over your home Wi-Fi network and then take it on the go as an in-car media player to keep the kids entertained on long trips.

If you’ve got some time on your hands and want to get really creative, you can turn your old computer monitor into a cat bed (yes, you read that right). But if you’re unable to reuse old tech (maybe it’s too far past its prime?), be sure to wipe all personal data and recycle or donate it.