Recycle your tech gear: It's easier than you think

There are a lot of places online that can make it easier to sell, recycle or give away those old monitors, computers, phones and cameras.

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Person to person: Sell it or give it away

Sometimes, the best way to get rid of something is to simply find somebody else who wants it. There are several sites that enable buyers and sellers to connect.

eBay

Need I say more? eBay is still here and going strong. It's the place everybody thinks of first when they're trying to get rid of an unwanted, outdated belonging. You can either sell your device as part of an auction and wait for the bids to roll in, or add a "Buy It Now" option if you don't want to wait.

The process can be a bit forbidding for newbies; eBay offers all sorts of tutorials on how to determine price, what to post, etc. And it's not free; currently, you pay an insertion fee of up to $4, depending on the value of your item, plus a percentage of the final price depending on a variety of factors. But if you're an eBay pro, or willing to dive into the deep end, this could be a good way to go.

Incidentally, one resource for researching places to go to get rid of unwanted tech is eBay's Rethink Initiative page, which is part of a group effort by several organizations to deal with e-waste. There are a number of links on the site for selling and recycling services, although some of the listings simply help you through the process of listing it on eBay.

Craigslist

For a simpler method of selling your stuff, you can always try Craigslist, which is about as close to a local classified ad site as you can get. It's free and simple to post (you can include an image), although your listing can quickly scroll down and out of sight, depending on where you post it. All postings expire in seven days.

Freecycle

If your device has no resale value, and you don't want to trash it, you might try to give it away. Freecycle brings together people who have stuff they don't want with people who want stuff they don't have. You sign up for a Freecycle Yahoo group in your area, advertise your device (or any other item) and wait to see if anyone else wants it. (I've gotten rid of several items that way -- when it works, it works well.)

Give it to charity

Most of us think of charitable donations when we have working electronic gear that we want to unload. However, these days it's difficult to find a charity that will accept legacy hardware.

Goodwill

Whether or not you can donate your computer to Goodwill depends on your local office. Preston's article mentioned that, if a computer wasn't suitable for re-use, Goodwill would recycle it; but the cost of recycling these days is more than Goodwill wants to deal with, according to the site.

National Christina Foundation

The National Christina Foundation has been around since the early 1980s (I've seen their tables at almost every trade show I've ever attended) and provides computers to people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons. It accepts desktops (Pentium III or higher), notebooks, printers, peripherals and software; a donation form is on the site, or if you have a large number of items, you can upload an inventory.

Call to Protect

Donated phones are either refurbished or recycled; the proceeds go toward combating domestic violence. Prepaid labels are provided online.

Recycle For Breast Cancer

This organization recycles a variety of devices, including mobile phones, printer cartridges, PDAs, digital cameras, media players, laptops and desktops, and routers/hubs/switches. It offers free prepaid shipping labels, envelopes and collection boxes; all proceeds go to the cost of the recycling and to support efforts against breast cancer.

Have the vendor recycle it

It's possible that your vendor can help you in your recycling efforts. Many vendors, prompted either by social responsibility or the desire to avoid bad publicity, are providing services that enable their customers to recycle old equipment.

Some computer manufacturers, such as Apple, will recycle any brand of computer and monitor when you buy a new system from that company. Dell does the same but also recycles any of its name-brand products for free, whether you buy a new system or not. HP has a buy-back program and free recycling for its own products but charges a fee to recycle other brands.

Since each vendor's options are different, it's important to read the fine print at each recycling site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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