Recycle Old Gadgets for Cash

Some companies will pay you money for that old cellphone or iPod.

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Your iPod had a long, fulfilling life. When it was young and healthy, you took it everywhere. But recently, it began the death rattle of a gadget nearing obsolescence, so you put it out of its misery, stashing it in your junk drawer.

You're not alone. Many people store their old gadgets (the average home has five unused devices) or throw them in the trash. But iPods, cellphones, and old computers contain hazardous materials that can leach into the ground and water from landfills. The right way to ditch old electronics is to recycle them. And several companies are willing to pay you for it.

On websites like Cell for Cash and Gazelle.com, you can look up the make and model of your gadget, answer a few questions about its condition to determine how the company can recycle it, ship your stuff to the company for free, and you'll get a check in the mail. Depending on the age of your gadget, you can net anywhere from $5 to $300. Cell for Cash refurbishes the phones and sells them in developing countries, while Gazelle resells or recycles the item, stripping out your personal information first.

"Our No. 1 competitor is inertia," says Rousseau Aurelien, Gazelle's founder. "People don't do anything about the products that are sitting around their house."

There's also cash to be made from your household trash. RecycleBank will give you coupons and gift certificates just for recycling your bottles, cans, and paper at home. Each household in a RecycleBank area receives a recycling bin with a computer chip in it. The heavier the bin, the more points a customer can redeem online at grocery stores and pharmacies. Recycle for cash programs drastically improve recycling rates—up to a 1,000 percent increase in lower-income neighborhoods, says Ron Gonen, CEO of RecycleBank.

As for finding the motivation to dig up your old cellphones, according to Gazelle's Aurelien, "The economy has become a significant driver."