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Tech Culture: What to do with your old gadgets

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Tech Culture: What to do with your old gadgets

3:28 /

From making a few bucks to making sure you don't poison people, we give you comprehensive tips on proper gadget disposal.

It's exciting to get new gadgets. But it leaves you with old gadgets. So, what do you do with them. No! Consumer electronics are full of Lead, Chromium, Mercury, and many other toxic substances. I'm Tom Merritt from CNET.com and we'll show you ways to properly dispose of your old technology on today's Insider Secret. First, we'll deal with batteries, then move on to the electronics themselves. If you throw a battery in the trash you may end up eating parts of it later. So what do you do? Many retailers accept batteries for proper disposal or recycling if possible. Some workplaces do the same. If you need help finding a place to properly dispose of batteries, go to earth911.com. You can put in your zip code and find disposal locations near you. Now, as you saw in the picture, some retailers will take old cell phones and ink cartridges. But they don't accept old, broken TVs. There's no room in the bin. So here are two alternatives for disposing of electronics, large and small. The first: Sell it. If it still works, you can get a little cash. The usual suspects are sites like eBay and Craigslist. But BuyMyTronics.com cuts out the middle man and just pays you cash up front for your tech. Though they don't take everything. Gazelle, formerly SecondRotation, will take anything and sell it for you, then give you some cash. If it doesn't sell, they'll recycle it free of charge. And for the more free spirited, Freecycle.org connects you with like-minded folks who give away all kinds of items to other folks in the area. Kind of a potlatch system for the 21st century. But some of you may have gadgets you just want to dump. Don't just give it to any recycler. 60 Minutes recently exposed the fact that some so-called recyclers simply ship old electronics overseas, rather than assuring they are properly disposed of. The Electronic Industries Alliance keeps a list of nationwide e-cyclers by zip code. However, they leave the investigation of whether these recyclers are legit up to you, though they do give you a good set of questions to ask, which is worth reviewing. Earth911.com calls itself the nation's official environmental information network, but doesn't list too many criteria on its site, other than working closely with the EPA. It is endorsed by Oprah, though. Gazelle, which we mentioned earlier, claims to responsibly recycle anything it can't sell by sending them to partners who have the highest standards. OK. But what if these reassurances aren't enough? Some say if you're not paying for your recycling, its probably not being properly recycled. Because proper recycling is costly. So take a look at the Basel Action Network's e-Stewards certification program. To get listed as an e-steward you have to pledge to, among other things, not allow hazardous e- waste to be sent to landfills or incinerators, and not to be exported to developing countries. One last thing before you separate yourself from that old, beloved piece of tech. Wipe your personal information. Services like Gazelle promise to wipe it for you...and not that I don't trust them...I just don't trust anyone. So see our videos on wiping hard drives for some help on erasing personal info. That's it for this Insider Secret. I'm Tom Merritt... Oh right, one more option...you could do like I do... and just keep everything. I'm Tom Merritt CNET.com.

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