From cell phones to car batteries, 7 things you should never throw away


Now we all know how to separate waste from recyclables.

But what about the other things we no longer need? The answer is no if you are holding an old medicine bottle. Tap or click here to check if any of your medications have been recalled.

Engine oil, engine coolant, and other vehicle chemicals also need to be disposed of properly. Speaking of cars, you don’t need a brand new one to get today’s technology inside. Tap or click for affordable upgrades you can make to your old car.

Many everyday items have their methods of safe disposal. Note: I am including general guidelines here, but always check with your local waste authority to be on the safe side.

1. Household batteries

Batteries fall into two broad categories: single-use and rechargeable. The way you dispose of it is quite different.

• You can generally throw away standard alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, 9 volt, etc. ) that power your remote control, flashlight and other common household items.

• Button or coin batteries – those found in calculators, watches, hearing aids and car key rings – may contain silver and mercury and should not be thrown away. trash can. Take them to a battery recycler or participating retailers that offer battery take-back services.

• Lithium-ion and nickel-cadmium batteries are most commonly found in cell phones, laptops, tablets, digital cameras, power tools and toys. These batteries should never be thrown in the garbage or placed in the trash. They must be deposited in selective sorting or collection centers for hazardous household waste.

• Small sealed lead acid batteries are found in emergency devices, security systems, mobility scooters and other special purpose items. These must also be transported to special disposal centers.

To find more recycling and disposal information, go to the resources page on Select a battery type from the drop-down menu on the left and enter your postal code. Note that stores like Staples, Home Depot, and Best Buy have battery deposit programs.

One of the most common battery questions on my show is, “What’s the best way to extend my phone’s battery life?” Tap or click here to learn some secrets that will help you get more out of yours when you’re away from a charger.

2. Smartphones and tablets

There is no way to remove the battery from many smartphones or tablets. Do not simply throw these devices in the trash, as the batteries can cause fires.

So what should you do with it? Try to trade in the old device when buying a new one. Most manufacturers will recycle it for free even if you don’t get credit for it. Check out Apple’s program, for example.

The resources page on Earth911 has locations that will accept your old phone or tablet.

Before returning or recycling your old device, it is imperative to perform a factory reset. Otherwise, you are potentially handing over a lot of personal information. Tap or click here for instructions on cleaning your phone, computer, and smart speaker before disposing of them.

Here is an idea. Transform your old phone or tablet into something completely different. Tap or click here for a 60-second audio tip on turning your phone, computer, tablet or laptop into a motion-activated camera.

3. Televisions

Your TV contains glass, lead and other dangerous chemicals and should not end up in a landfill. And unless it’s time for bulk trash pickup, don’t just put your old TV on the sidewalk.

Try calling your local Best Buy, Walmart, and other electronics stores to find out if they will recycle old televisions. If you have a new one delivered and installed, they should take the old one, although there may be a charge.

If you scratch, contact your local recycling facility or sanitation department for more information. They can schedule a pickup or tell you where to go.

Consider giving the TV to a friend or a thrift store. Maybe a local nursing home or school could use it. Try posting it on a no purchase group in your area if none of your friends and family bite.

Before getting rid of your TV, disconnect from all connected services and clear your Wi-Fi password. Yes, your TV is watching. Here’s how to stop some tracking.

4. Car batteries

Car batteries contain lead and acid and pose a serious environmental risk to humans and animals. This means not throwing your old one in a dumpster.

If you replace your battery at an auto shop, they should take the old one and throw it away for you. This is the law in some jurisdictions and applies to retailers who sell car batteries, even if they don’t sell them to you or install them for you.

Check with retailers such as AutoZone, Pep Boys, Advance Auto Parts, Walmart, and even local repair shops. They might get rid of your old car battery.

Tech upgrade: Dash cams are on my must-have tech checklist for vehicles. Tap or click here for three great options at different price points.

5. Lighters

Just like batteries, there are disposable and reusable lighters.

You can safely throw away these cheap plastic lighters that you can pick up just about anywhere in the trash if they’re empty, though that depends on state laws.

Do not pour it down the sink if there is still lighter fluid. Take out and activate the lighter until the liquid is used up. If it’s too hot, take a break and try again later. In some jurisdictions, you must take your lighter to a household hazardous waste site.

Zippos and utility butane lighters can be used repeatedly, but when it’s time to dispose of them, be careful. Make sure they are empty before you throw them away, and if you have any leftover lighter fluid or butane, take it to the nearest household hazardous waste site. Again, never pour this stuff down a drain.

Search your lighter, fluid and zip code on Earth911 for disposal instructions and locations.

I gave up lighter fluid completely and bought a refillable arc lighter. When it dies, plug it in. Tap or click here for my favorites, including one under $10.

6. Thermometers

Old-fashioned glass thermometers may contain mercury, which is highly toxic to the environment and living things. Do not throw it in the trash and be careful not to break it.

Some universities will take old thermometers and may even give you a newer digital model, or you can check your local RDD facility.

7. Car tires

Car tires contain steel belts that can puncture landfills and contaminate the environment. When you change your tires in a store, they must take your old ones. There may be a small additional charge.

If you have old tires, most car dealerships and car retailers will recycle them, but you may have to pay for this service. You can also call your trash department to schedule a pickup.

Keep your technological know-how

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today”. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, click the link below for a recent episode.

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China’s super apps inspire Elon Musk’s Twitter plans, a solar-powered city kept electricity during Hurricane Ian, new phishing attacks, TikTok teaches car thieves, the world’s oldest webcam world and how to use our phone to snap pictures with ease. Plus, how to make money renting your car and stop websites from tracking you with URLs.

Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Discover all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.


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