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The Green Life: E-Waste for Cheapskates

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May 26, 2011

E-Waste for Cheapskates

E-waste Got a computer older than dirt taking up space in your basement? Resist the urge to plop it on the curb. Trash companies (and even some recyclers) have a long and nasty history of dumping discarded electronics in landfills all over the developing world, polluting countries' ecosystems with toxics like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. Fortunately, the EPA and other agencies are responding to this problem by developing databases of responsible and convenient e-waste donation sites in neighborhoods across America. 

But what about electronics that haven’t quite gone the way of the 10-pound cell phone? If you’re having a hard time parting with that glitter-covered TI-83, check out Amazon’s new e-waste trade-in program

It works like this: You price your electronics on the website, package up the approved ones, ship them to Amazon (for free!), and get a gift card in return. Of course, Amazon's only interested in the stuff it can resell, so its take on e-waste is somewhat narrow (last generation iPods and GPS systems do well). So the program hardly solves the environmental issues related to obsolete electronics. But if you’re a technophile with seven cell phones lying around, you might think about trading them in for something that holds up better to water.

--Mimi Dwyer

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