Landfills take up space, add to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and they smell awful. Plus, they will only get bigger if your old refrigerator, oven or washer get sent there when you upgrade to a new one. Thankfully, you can recycle these big appliances instead, and all it takes is a phone call or two.
The easiest way to recycle your old appliance is by buying your new one from a store that offers recycling services. Best Buy, for example, has a program that picks up the old appliance when the new one is delivered for a small fee.
If shopping at major appliance chains isn't your thing, or you're not buying a new appliance, go small. Many small appliance companies also offer this service, even if you don't buy a new appliance from them. I've found that small appliance repair shops are the best places to call. Since picking up an old unit is a great way to get free parts for repairing newer units, and it builds a rapport with the community, many shops are more than happy to help if you ask. Some also advertise pickup services in the local newspaper or phonebook, so keep an eye out there, too.
Some utility providers also offer recycling programs. They pickup your old unit and some even put a credit on your account just for doing this.
A few companies that participate in recycling programs are Consumers Energy, Focus on Energy (a partnership with several different Wisconsin utility companies), DTE Energy and Idaho Power. The EPA has a list of providers that offer recycling services here.