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Where to Recycle or Donate Electronics

I’ve been cleaning out my closets and trying to get some Spring mid-Summer cleaning done and I’ve discovered a lot of old electronics equipment I no longer use. My wife jokes about how I have a computer graveyard in my closet (lots of old cases, motherboards, a stack of hard drives) and I’m moving towards recycling or donating as much of it as I can. The last thing I want to do, and the last thing anyone should do, is send electronics directly to the landfill.

Below I have listed some suggestions for places to go to recycle the items listed. In every case, I recommended doing a search on Google to find out if there are better local options than the ones I’ve listed. For example, in California you can call on YNot Recycle [3] to come pick up electronic equipment including computers, monitors, and televisions absolutely free (Staples charges $10 and you have to bring it to them). A little searching can yield superior options than the ones I’ve listed. Look for local options because you’ll be surprised at what’s out there when you look.

Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries [4], in many areas, will pretty much take anything with a cord or a battery. Call your local Goodwill to see what they’ll take. Outside of Goodwill, or local options, here are some ideas based on electronic item.

CRT Monitors

Unfortunately, you can’t donate CRT monitors anymore because they no longer have much value given the popularity and relative inexpensiveness of LCD monitors. Your best bet is to find a place that will recycle it for free or find a local Staples and they’ll take them for a $10 fee [5] on “large items.” They don’t specify what large means. While $10 seems like a lot, think of it as a small price to pay to reclaim some space in your house without harming the environment.


Your best option is to find a local recycling center or charity that will take your machine. If it’s a Pentium 4 or newer, a charity will likely be able to use it and take advantage of it. If it’s older, they probably won’t and you’ll have to turn to a recycling center near you. If there isn’t one nearby, you can always go to Staples and pay the $10.


Like CRTs, donating and recycling televisions is still difficult. Barring manufacturer promotions, your best bet appears to be to bring it to Staples and pay the $10 fee. Some companies, like Best Buy, will take away old televisions for free when you order one with home installation.

Cell Phones

If you can’t sell the phone on eBay, consider donating it to a worthy cause. I recently donated an old Samsung to Cell Phones for Soldiers [6]. They make it really easy to donate a cell phone, just print out a pre-paid shipping label (or pay for shipping), slap it on your package and drop it in the mail.

My opinion is that if you can’t get more than $50 for your cell phone, donate it. It takes too much time to list the item, track the auction, collect payment, and then ship the package. A $50 sale will be cut down to $40 after fees and the whole process could easily take a few hours – just donate it to a worthy cause. I chose Cell Phones for Soldiers but there are many other worthy causes like the Support Network for Battered Women [7].

If your cell phone is really old, like 5+ years, with little reusable value, I’d just toss it in a recycling kiosk at Best Buy.

Ink/Toner Cartridges

If it’s a HP, Lexmark or Dell ink cartridge, you can get a $3 coupon for future ink purchases if you bring it to a Staples retail store. Otherwise, you can just drop them off at kiosks at any local Staples or Best Buy for recycling.


Batteries are extremely toxic and should always be recycled. For rechargeable batteries, check out Call2Recycle [8] to find one of 30,000 drop off locations. For regular batteries, you can just drop them off at your local Staples or Best Buy.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

These aren’t really “electronics”, but I wanted to add them in because CFLs are becoming more popular and many people don’t realize they need to be disposed of correctly. CFLs have mercury inside and so you’ll want to bring burned out bulbs to Home Depot for recycling. They recently kicked off a nationwide initiative to recycle these bulbs, good move by them.

Photo by greenpomme [9])