On Amazon, a pair of headphones by a manufacturer called HiFiMan costs $2,250. According to reviews, of which there are 28 supposed buyers, one commenter said his pair broke and that he wouldn’t buy another pair again. (His review mentions that this was his second set from the company.)
Last week, we wrote about how to get rid of valuable electronic waste like your used Xbox and Playstation gaming consoles. If your headphones have stopped working, and even a repair shop can’t come to the rescue, it’s important to dispose of them the right way; headphones, like consoles, are complicated to recycle because they must be disassembled to be repurposed.
Before you throw out your old pair of headphones, which may or may not cost a few thousand dollars, research your options so you can avoid adding to the problem of electronic waste.
Send them to a facility that will recycle them
Typically, headphones are made of three components which include the speakers (that often contain magnets), a casing that covers those speakers, and a cord. Depending on the exact brand and model, there might be aluminum or copper wires, as well as foam or rubber around the pads around your ears, as Recycle Nation writes. Meanwhile, Airpods and its case are mostly made of various types of plastic and metal.
If you have non-working headphones, your first step before choosing to recycle them on your own is to check with the manufacturer. They may accept them and recycle the pair on your behalf. (Apple will recycle your broken Airpods and other Apple-branded products, for example.) Also, it’s good to check with the manufacturer to see if your headphones are still under warranty; it won’t solve your trash problem, but at least you’ll have the pair replaced for free.
If your manufacturer doesn’t offer a recycling program, do some research for nearby big-box retailers. Best Buy stores, for instance, will accept used headphones for recycling (or for trade-in, if they’re still working). Look for recycling kiosks just inside the store or just refer to the customer service if you’re unable to locate them.
Otherwise, use Earth 911’s search locator to find nearby electronic waste drop-off locations. Search for “Audio Equipment,” your zip code, and results for nearby facilities will appear. Going through the effort of driving to a facility might not be worth it for a single pair of headphones, so it would be a good opportunity to assemble other electronics you want to dispose of, too. (Maybe you have a non-working gaming console or pair of speakers taking up too much space in your living room.)
Otherwise, mail your headphones to recycling programs like those at JLab Audio; just enter your email, fill out a form, send in your headphones or earbuds, and they’ll recycle it on your behalf. They’ll also send you a code to receive 30% off any order of new headphones over on their website.
How to maintain the quality of your headphones
If your pair of earbuds are on their last leg and adhered together with only duct tape, there are a few things you can do to extend their lifespan (and to avoid purchasing a new pair time and time again).
As Gizmodo writes, you should take basic precautions, like avoiding too hot or cold temperatures or yanking out the cable to remove them—pull the end instead. Also, avoid submerging them in liquids and keep away from places with high humidity.
And how you store them is important, too. “An easy way to make your earbuds last longer is by wrapping them up properly,” u/n00bcrusher wrote on a Reddit thread. “About 90% of the time earbuds stop working is because we don’t wrap them properly and the wire on the inside just splits in half.”
As this video from the Verge demonstrates, to avoid your headphones from becoming tangled and possibly stop working altogether, hold out three fingers and wrap the cord around them; toward the end of the wire, begin to wrap down the middle so it doesn’t come loose. (It should look like a bow by the time you’re done.)
And if you think your headphones might be worth salvaging, find an electronics store that might able to repair them, though it could cost more than to replace them depending on your pair.
Instead, if you’re able to, invest in a good pair of headphones like those from Sennheiser or Sony any other brand over the cheap ones you might find at a drug store; you might end up spending more to replace those cheap headphones. But don’t buy a pair that cost you $2,250. That’s just dumb.
This article was originally published at lifehacker.com