I don’t like looking at the three bins in my basement that are overflowing with old electronics, much less touching them. So let me make one thing clear: Do as I say, not as I do.
Make a plan to sell, donate or recycle your old electronics now. Consumer Reports points out that electronics don’t age well. If you want to get some money out of them, the younger the better. Middle-aged machines can be donated, but ancient ones should be recycled.
I plunged my hand into those dusty bins and pulled out five items I thought might be worth something. Then I checked out several sites that buy used electronics.
First I typed in my husband’s two old BlackBerrys. Worthless. I was skeptical that our ancient GPS device would be a moneymaker, but then one website offered me between 25 cents and $17 for it, depending on the condition.
Next, I submitted a two-year-old Nikon CoolPix camera and learned two valuable lessons: First, refurbishers want electronics less than three years old. Second, be sure to shop around. One site offered me $15 for the camera, but another offered me $44.
Finally, I entered a Bose bluetooth speaker, unused, in the original box, and hit the jackpot – $67 for a speaker that would go for about $100 new.
Here are several resources for selling used electronics:
▪ Amazon.com: Amazon buys a wide variety of electronics, plus CDs and video games. In my brief experiment, I found its offers to be among the highest. You’re paid via Amazon gift card.
▪ Best Buy: Best Buy’s estimating tool is quick and easy, and with 1,500 stores across North America, you can easily drop off your trade-in rather than messing with shipping.
▪ BuyBackWorld: This site buys cellphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and more. If you accept the site’s offer, it will send you a label for free shipping.
▪ Gazelle: Gazelle focuses mostly on Apple products. A nice benefit here: You can choose to be paid via Amazon gift card, PayPal or check.
▪ Target: The big-box store has partnered with an outfit called NextWorth. You can get an easy estimate online, then choose whether to ship your item for free or take it to a participating Target store.
Many charities make use of slightly outdated but still-functioning gadgets. Make sure you wipe phones and clear the hard drive on computers before donating them.
Here are several organizations that accept electronics donations:
▪ American Cell Phone Drive: This organization donates all types of used cellphones – or the proceeds – to local charities, and you can even choose which charity your donation benefits. Just put your phone in a local drop-off box or get a shipping label online.
▪ Dell Reconnect: This partnership between Dell and Goodwill accepts all brands of computers, plus computer accessories in any condition. If they’re usable, Goodwill finds people who need them. If not, Dell recycles them.
▪ eBay for Charity: Here you actually sell your used electronics, then donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice.
Finally, for the true dinosaurs in your basement bins, the answer is recycling. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition cites Environmental Protection Agency statistics showing that 60 percent of electronics end up in landfills. That means toxins such as lead and mercury end up there, too. So do your part and recycle. Besides, it’s the law in 25 states, with more on the way, according to Consumer Reports.
▪ Best Buy: The store also offers recycling options for almost any kind of device with an “on” button. There are kiosks near store doors for small items, and you can take larger things to the customer service desk. (Note: There may be disposal fees for computer monitors or TVs.)
▪ TIA E-cycling Central: The Telecommunications Industry Association offers a map where you can click on your state and get a listing of recycling opportunities near you, including those offered by local cities and towns.