Shop Smart: Other options to dispose of old electronic equipment

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You just had to have the latest iPhone and a new TV. But now your basement is cluttered with outdated electronics.

If you're tempted to toss them all in the trash, forget about it, says Consumer Reports. It's illegal in many states -- including Pennsylvania. Electronics contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury and arsenic, which can contaminate soil and drinking water.

So what can you do with your tech castoffs?

Sell them

If last year's devices still work, you might be able to sell them on Amazon.com, Craigslist or eBay, or with an ad in the newspaper's classified section or on its website. And services such as Gazelle (gazelle.com) buy used electronics.

Trade them in

Many retailers and manufacturers have trade-in programs that give you a gift card or store credit for the estimated value of the product. Usually you can determine the value of acceptable products at the company's website, then mail items or drop them off. If your "treasure" proves to be trash, though, most companies promise to recycle it responsibly.

Best Buy lets you trade in many kinds of electronic items, including computers, cameras, tablets, Blu-ray players, games and gaming systems, TVs, audio gear and phones -- regardless of how old a product is or where you bought it. You'll receive a gift card for the value.

Donate Them

Feeling charitable? For electronic products in good working condition, check with schools and community centers in your area or consider the following:

* Freecycle.org and sites like it (including Freesharing.org and sharingisgiving.com) make giving away your stuff easy.

* Goodwill has teamed up with Dell in the Dell Reconnect partnership. Computers, keyboards, monitors and printers are among the items accepted at more than 2,600 Goodwill locations.

* National Cristina Foundation (cristina.org) will find an organization that can use your computer, printers, and other peripherals and software, as well as cameras, fax machines, answering machines and more. The group will arrange pickup or delivery.

Recycle them

For products that aren't usable, or at least not desirable (think tube TVs and VCRs), recycling is the answer. There are many programs designed to keep electronic gear out of landfills.


Consumer Reports: www.consumerreports.org.

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