If you've got an old laptop collecting dust in your home, you're not alone. In a survey conducted last spring by the Consumer Reports Survey Group, a quarter of the members who had purchased multiple laptops since 2014 confessed to letting one of those devices linger under the roof—unused—after it had been replaced. 

And that raises a good question: How do you go about finding a new home for an old laptop? With Earth Day approaching, here are a few eco-friendly options to consider.

Sell It

Believe it or not, there’s a robust market for old tech. Between eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, OfferUp, and Decluttr, you should have no trouble finding someone to take an unwanted computer off your hands. Using eBay, I’ve sold a nonfunctioning MacBook Pro with a missing hard drive for $100, a three-year-old iPad mini for $175, and an iPhone 7 for $405.

More on Laptops

Online marketplaces make it really easy to list items, offering intuitive step-by-step instructions to help you sell your wares without a fee. While eBay takes a small cut of the sale price, I’ve found that it still yields a bigger sum than the buy-back sites such as Gazelle and Glyde.

Before you sell a digital device to someone you don't know, though, take a few precautions to protect your privacy. You don't want bank account info, personal images, or your browsing history lingering on the machine.

With a tablet, a factory reset (activated through the Settings menu) will wipe the slate clean. For a laptop, you're better off removing the hard drive. (Just be sure to note that it's gone when you place the item on sale.) The website ifixit.com offers teardown tutorials to walk you through the process. The only tool you need is a screwdriver.

Recycle It

For those who don't have the time to list used electronics, don't fret; local governments and schools often collect e-waste for Earth Day/Week. And many municipalities schedule collection days year-round.

In some cases you may have to fill out a pickup request online. To get the details, go to the website for your local government or sanitation department.

If your city doesn't have such a program for electronics products, you can find a state-by-state listing of organizations that will accept them by going to the website TIA E-cycling Central. You should check out the collection programs at BestBuy and Staples, too. Both are free. And Amazon will reward you with a gift card for newer items recovered through its trade-in program.

Donate It

It’s always nice to give back, and a used computer is a valuable tool for a family without the resources to buy one. If you'd like to contribute a laptop to a family in need, the National Cristina Foundation and the World Computer Exchange can help you make that happen.

“So many of our children today come home from school with homework that has to be done online,” says Harry Rizer, CEO of the National Cristina Foundation. “If the family doesn't have a computer, they have to take the kid to the library every night and stand in line until it's their turn. And if the library closes, they're out of luck.”

That digital divide stretches way beyond childhood, too. These days, it’s impossible to apply for a job at McDonald's without access to a computer and broadband.

Even a 5- or 6-year-old computer can be given a second life in a new home, says Rizer. To find a nearby nonprofit in need of equipment, you can check out the hundreds of prescreened organizations listed on the National Cristina Foundation website.

Keep in mind that your donation may be eligible for a tax break.

"You can deduct the fair market value of the laptop—that is, how much it would be worth if you sold it on, say, eBay," says Tobie Stanger, a CR senior editor who covers taxes. "To be written off on your tax return, a donated item must at least be in good condition."

For help in coming up with the valuation, use TurboTax's ItsDeductible, which values items based on current eBay prices.

Upgrade It

And finally, if you have a child or a friend in need of a computer, you might consider giving the one you've outgrown a quick tuneup. If it was purchased in the last few years, you can make it run faster with a couple of tweaks.

MacBooks are notoriously difficult to upgrade because their parts are usually soldered or glued into the body. But models made by other manufacturers let you add more memory and replace an old hard drive with a quicker, more efficient solid-state drive (SSD). If that's too costly, lower-priced hybrid drives, which combine a hard drive with solid-state memory, are a good compromise.

Once again, iFixit is a great resource for info on whether your device can be upgraded and how you go about doing it. A new SSD will give you the biggest performance boost, for example. It lets your computer access data without the moving parts required by a traditional hard drive, and allows for quicker information retrieval.

Adding more memory (RAM) can improve a computer's performance as well, allowing you to multitask with greater speed, particularly if you're the sort who likes to keep a lot of tabs open on your browser (think 10 or more).

If you don't plan to do video editing or heavy multitasking, 4GB of RAM is probably enough. But desktops and laptops often have 8GB. To find out what type of RAM modules your laptop needs, you might have to do a little digging. (Crucial's and Kingston's online stores can help.) As for how much RAM your computer can handle, consult the owner's manual or the manufacturer’s website.