Out with the old: What to do with your unwanted tech gear

Keep it out of the attic by selling, donating or recycling it. Here's how.

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There's an even simpler way to sell your used electronics if you don't want to go through the hassle of running an auction on eBay or selling on Craigslist. You can instead sell them directly to any one of several Web sites -- and the selling process is painless.

Second Rotation is a great place to go to sell a wide array of noncomputer electronics. For example, they'll buy cell phones from 37 different manufacturers; gaming consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony; and digital cameras, MP3 players, camcorders and GPS devices from dozens of manufacturers.

Choose what you want to sell, fill out a simple form detailing its condition and click a button to accept the site's offer. Fill out a shipping form, and the site creates a printable shipping label via DHL (shipping is free). You get to choose whether you want to be paid via check or PayPal; then just wait for DHL to arrive, and for your money to make its way to you.

When there's no resale value on what you've got, you can recycle the equipment through the site. As with the sales process, it will print out a shipping label. Call DHL, and they'll pick it up. SecondRotation will then recycle your equipment.

A similar site, BuyMyTronics buys used iPods, iPhones and game consoles. It works much the same as SecondRotation: Describe the condition of what you're selling, the site tells you what it will pay you, you send it on its merry way, and a check or a PayPal payment makes its way to you. Similarly, US Recycling buys cell phones and printer cartridges, which are then recycled.

Donate your goods

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If you have usable equipment, there's another choice for you: You can donate it. That way, you'll be helping others, as well as ensuring you don't harm the environment. Newer computers and monitors, of course, are easier to donate than older equipment. In general, the older electronics are, the less chance there is that someone will want them.

First, contact local charities, to see if they have any formal programs for accepting electronics. If not, they still might need what you have, so ask to be put in touch with whoever is in charge of technology or the IT department.

Goodwill Industries is a particularly good choice because of a unique program that includes job training. When you donate your computer to a Goodwill center that participates in the program, the organization examines the computer to see whether it has any value if refurbished. If it's not worth refurbishing, Goodwill recycles the computer in a partnership with Dell. (The computers don't have to be Dell models.)

If it is worth refurbishing, the computer is given to a job training program that teaches people computer-related skills that they can use in the workplace. Trainees refurbish the computers, which are then sold at Goodwill stores. So Goodwill gets money, those in need of help receive job training, and you get rid of a PC and have done some good in the world as well.

Not all Goodwills participate in the program, and the program runs differently at each Goodwill agency. In the San Francisco area, for example, the local Goodwill has a partnership with the tech firm ReliaTech. Goodwill gives the computers to ReliaTech, which runs a job training program that teaches people to refurbish PCs. Goodwill then sells the refurbished PCs, which carry a free 90-day warranty. All you need to do is bring your PC to any Goodwill store in the San Francisco area.

Goodwill also accepts many other kinds of electronics. Gaming systems are particularly welcome, because they sell easily. And Goodwill also accepts cell phones, which they then sell to cell phone recyclers. It's best to check with your local Goodwill before bringing in any electronics equipment, however, because not all participate in these types of programs.

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