recycling electronicsDear Lazy Environmentalist,

How can I earn money recycling my electronics?

Ever wonder why certain municipalities or companies charge you a fee when agreeing to recycle your electronic devices? I mean, you paid for them and the products still have value. So why should you have to pay to have them properly disposed? I think we all deserve to be paid for our electronics when we’re ready to part with them. Fortunately, so do a handful of entrepreneurs who have created services that do just that, i.e. pay you to recycle.

Instead of contributing to the already challenging problem of e-waste by tossing your used electronics into the regular trash — which eventually ends up in a landfill — turn to a company like Gazelle. Simple search menus on the company’s website inform visitors of the residual market value of their desktop computers, laptops, digital cameras and other devices. Gazelle then sends you a prepaid postage box in which to ship your product back to the company. Once you send in your products and their condition is verified, Gazelle will mail you a check. It’s that simple.

A similar Recycle philosophy fuels GreenPhone.com. The site tells you how much your cell phone or PDA model is worth and then allows you to mail it in for cash. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that across the United States, more than 500 million old cell phones languish in desk drawers and other storage spots. Disposing of these devices properly is of vital environmental concern since the devices contain hazardous chemicals like arsenic and lead that can be released into the atmosphere, soil and groundwater.

GreenPhone.com allows you to protect the environment while earning a little spending money — never a bad thing. If you’re feeling more virtuous, visit CellPhonesForSoldiers.com, an organization that collects and recycles used cellphones and uses the proceeds to pay for calling cards that it gives to soldier serving overseas so they can connect with friends and family members back home.

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Excerpted from Josh's latest book, "The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget."

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images