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Recycling your household goods
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Many mobile phone companies and service providers, including Nextel and Cingular, offer recycling programs.

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Ebay's Rethink Project provides information on how to recycle cell phones, computers, digital cameras and home audio equipment. Not coincidentally, the online auctioneer also explains how you can sell your used equipment on its site. Another good source of information is Earth911.org, which tells how to recycle everything from paper to disposable batteries.

Giving it away
Not all computers, printers and personal digital assistants are good candidates for reuse. Many charities will not accept really old computers, that is, computers with limited processing ability. In addition, they'll want them in working order and with all the relevant parts intact: central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

The National Cristina Foundation, founded in 1984, takes functioning computers from individuals and businesses and donates them to training and educational organizations. It started originally when founder Bruce McMahan donated a computer to his daughter Cristina's special education class. Charities such as the National Cristina Foundation can be found by searching the Web using the keyword "computer recycling." Bankrate has compiled a list of organizations that take old computers and other items.

You can also check with local charities to see whether they can use your equipment. Of course, if you are donating to a charity, your computer must be in working order and can't be so old that it can't run the nonprofit's computer software. It's also a good idea to include all manuals (software and hardware) with the donation.

Schools are another option for computers that can be used by students. Even old nonfunctioning units may be welcome for vocational students to practice repair work on.

Getting toned up
Toner and ink cartridges generate a lot of garbage. Every year, more than 400 million cartridges end up in landfills, and the plastic used in a typical ink-jet or toner cartridge takes about 1,000 years to decompose, according to the Recycle for Breast Cancer Web site.

Recycle for Breast Cancer collects e-waste, such as printer and toner cartridges, as well as cell phones and personal digital devices. For every recycled item donated, the organization makes a donation to fund breast-cancer research. It even pays for shipping the items.

Some manufacturers, including Epson and Hewlett-Packard, have national programs to recycle used toner and ink cartridges. Also check your local office supply store. Staples, for example, has a recycling program for used printer cartridges.

These programs come and go. Your manufacturers' Web site can give you the latest news on how to recycle your spent cartridges, or you can drop by your local office supply store and see what programs it has in place.

Finally, you can consider recycling your print cartridges yourself by refilling them or taking them to an outlet that specializes in refilling cartridges. Island Ink-Jet is a franchise of more than 200 stores that refill printer and toner cartridges.

 
 
Next: Throw a clothes-swap, or a used-clothing party.
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 RESOURCES
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