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Seven ways to a greener new year

January 10, 2011

Are you torn between yearning for a new device and a sense of duty to hold onto something that still works? Frugality was the rule when I was growing up. We maintained appliances until they died and our featureless black phones were indestructible.

Why do we replace our electronics so often? When a device is broken repairs can be expensive, inconvenient, or unavailable – but more often our egos are simply telling us we need to be cooler. We buy into a commercial that says our device is obsolete, when it really just lacks the latest bell or whistle. Surely YOU, gentle reader, have a better reason for buying that new phone, tablet, camera, or other thingamabob.

You want to be green, but you have passed the “reduce” threshold. What do you do when the choices that remain are “reuse” and “recycle”? You might be surprised to learn that a number of nationwide initiatives address that question in different ways.

Seven ways to unload an electronic device

  1. Auction it on eBay – this can be difficult to get into, but my friends who sell items there say it’s not a big deal
  2. Sell it on Gazelle – type in what you have and the site MAY make you an offer. Don’t expect to get a lot of money; I was offered $3 for my old Kodak digital camera.
  3. Trade it in at Radio Shack – like choice 2, except you get a store credit
  4. Donate it through Reconnect (a partnership between Goodwill and Dell) – drop off your device at a Goodwill store and they’ll give you a receipt for tax purposes.
  5. Give it away through Freecycle – find your local network, list an item you don’t want any more, and then wait for someone in the community to claim it.
  6. Recycle it at a public facility – check out Earth911 or visit 1800recycling.com, where they offer  “My Recycle List” for iPhone and Android.
  7. Drop it off at Staples , Best Buy, or Office Depot – don’t just go with anything; follow the links to learn who will take what.

Many of these same resources will also help you dispose of batteries, printer cartridges, CDs, and other consumables. For example, 1800recycling.com told me that the Ace Hardware store around the courner would recycle my used CFL light bulbs.

Further reading – Sustainable Tech – David Pogue on Recycling Gadgets.

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