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Old tech: When to sell, recycle or donate items & how to do it

Consumer Reports has easy ways to find buyers, places to donate or locations to recycle any tech item.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Broken laptops, old cell phones, printers that stopped working years ago. Electronic waste is a big problem. One estimate from United Nations' researchers is that only about 20% of it is disposed of properly. 

Consumer Reports has some advice on how to clear out your tech clutter safely and maybe make a little money. There are a lot of different online marketplaces that make it easy for you to sell your old computers and other electronic devices. 

"You might want to do a little bit of research ahead of time to make sure that you’re pricing them appropriately," Yael Grauer, Consumer Reports Tech Editor said. 

What if it’s broken? Consumer Reports said, believe it or not, there’s also a strong market for broken tech. On eBay, CR recently found a MacBook Pro selling for $350 and a broken older iPad Pro for $199.


If you want to avoid the hassle of listing and selling an item yourself, online buy-back sites like BuyBackWorld and Gazelle will give you a quote. If you accept the offer, you ship your gadgets to them with a prepaid shipping label.

Another way to get rid of old devices? Donate them. You might have a used computer that you're not using that's collecting dust. It could be valuable to a family that does not have the resources to buy one.

Digitunity will match you with prequalified organizations in your area that will give your old computer a new life.

Donating your old phone or tablet to Cellphonesforsoldiers helps the group provide international calling cards to troops.

The Hearing Aid Project will refurbish your old hearing aids for low-income people nationwide.

Whatever you do, avoid throwing away your old electronics! Check out Earth911 to find a recycling location near you. Or call your town supervisor to ask about electronic trash collection events.

CR says before you get rid of any old tech, be sure to completely erase the hard drive and remove all personally identifiable information. If you don't know how to do it, here are step-by-step instructions from Consumer Reports on our station website.

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