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Getting cash for crashed gadgets

Why pay to recycle? Web-based services will pay you for mailing in old electronics.

Tech recycling services traditionally are either free or charge you a fee for trying to keep old gear out of landfills. But as long as you're cleaning out closets to make room for another season of gifts, you could finance some of your holiday shopping by sending tired tech toys to a service that will pay for them.

The new BuyMyTronics, (via EcoGeek) from the same people behind BuyMyBrokeniPod, will accept game consoles from a GameBoy to an Xbox, as well as iPods and iPhones. According to the site's online estimate, a dead Wii in the original box would fetch $62.25, sent via PayPal or check. If you like the deal, just sign up and ship out the goods.

SecondRotation also pays for gaming consoles, PDAs, phones, camcorders, GPS devices, and digital cameras. But its estimate rated the value of the same broken Wii as a gaping zero.

Too bad I can't find a site that wants my TI 99/4-A, circa 1981. I guess that's better fit for a vintage computer sale, Craigslist, FreeCycle, or eBay.

At least someone will give me a kickback for mailing in an old Motorola RAZR V3. CellforCash would pay $13, SimplySellular would fork over $23, and SellYourCell would offer $20. SecondRotation beat them all with its $30 trade-in estimate. BuyMyTronics is working to add trade-in options for cell phones, laptops, digital cameras, and camcorders.

Of course, you can also recycle a wireless phone without getting paid, or pay a small fee to GreenCitizen if you find walking into their San Francisco or Silicon Valley trade-in shop convenient. Trade-in services, including curbside pickup, from HP and Dell have good reputations.

Services such as these either refurbish and resell used gear, donate the old tech to schools or needy nonprofit groups, or send the stuff straight into something like a meat grinder for hardware, later reclaiming valuable metals to sell. SecondRotation resells the items on eBay, as does BuyMyTronics, which also donates castoff parts to artists. The staff of BuyMyTronics also aims to be "green" by reusing packaging materials and walking most of the hundreds of goods it deals with each month over to the post office.

However, many other recycling services make it a practice to ship used electronics overseas, where it's likely to poison the health of people and ecosystems. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition lists recyclers services that recycle responsibly.