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Don’t Throw Away Your Old TV Until You Read This

Don’t Throw Away Your Old TV Until You Read This

Don't Throw Away Your Old TV Until You Read This

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This story is part 12 days of advicehelping you get the most out of your tech, your home and your health this holiday season.

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Maybe you were lucky enough to receive a new TV as a gift this holiday season. Or maybe you got yourself a big screen TV gift. Either way, don’t throw away your old TV. It’s certainly tempting to throw your outdated screen in the trash, but it’s not a good idea. I mean, you can if you want, but there are better options.

For example, most cities prefer you recycle your old electronics. Just hauling your old TV to the landfill is a waste. Depending on the age of the television, it may contain toxic metals such as mercury. What should you do instead? There are plenty of options, especially if it still works. The most obvious is to just move it to another room, but I’m guessing you’ve already thought about that, especially if you have a new tv to replace it.

Luckily, many options for getting rid of an old TV cost you nothing, except maybe a bit of your time. Here’s what to do. To learn more, check if your old phone can be turned into a wireless mouse or one security camera.

Before doing anything else, clear the data

Whatever you intend to do with your TV, be sure to log out of all your streaming accounts. Then go a little further and do a factory reset, which you can find buried in the user menu. Obviously have someone download your netflix for free is only a problem if your old TV is a SmartTV, but erasing your passwords and personal information is a good habit to start with any of your old electronics.

Try selling on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (if it’s worth anything)

While selling the TV might seem as obvious as moving it to another room, the specifics are a little less obvious.

First, you need a local pickup for a TV. No matter how much you pack a TV, even if you have the original box, it probably won’t survive the trip. Modern televisions are far too fragile. Now the seller has to deal with a broken TV and you have to return the buyer’s money.

Even if you sell it locally, the same problem applies. Inevitably, the buyer will show up to get your 65 inch TV in a 1990 Honda Civic and asking you to help put it in the back. If you’re getting rid of a large TV, be sure to specify its dimensions and weight in the ad.

Read more: 5 Reasons You Should Use Facebook Marketplace Instead of Craigslist

And that’s if you can sell it. Used TVs depreciate quickly, in part because new TVs are getting cheaper and cheaper. That TV you spent $2,000 on? Maybe you can get $200. See the section “Is your TV worth something?” » section at the bottom.

Alternatively, just list it for free if the person picks it up. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Donate your TV to charity

An easier option is to donate it to a local charity, ideally the one whose volunteers will pick it up.

There is also Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers or another thrift store. You will need to bring the TV to one of their locations. Check their website to see if they accept your TV type and size. For example, they probably won’t take an old rear projection television since most people don’t want it.

Also contact your local library or public schools. Many still need donations, although a 20-year-old TV might not be what they’re looking for.

Best Buy will pick up old electronics from your home, for a fee.

Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Donate your TV (return) to Best Buy

Best Buy will take your used electronic devices. Not just televisions, but also old phones, tablets, batteries and even cables. Again, you’ll need to take the TV to your nearest Best Buy, but since it doesn’t matter if it’s still working, the amount of care required drops precipitously. You’ll even get Best Buy points, which you can combine with $5 to get $5 worth of candy at checkout.

Larger TVs will incur a $25 charge, which seems reasonable given that it takes that huge thing away from you.

If you buy a new TV and have it installed, for $40 he will take your old one away. If you didn’t buy a new TV from Best Buy, they’ll come to you and take it for $200.

Electronic recycling in action.

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Have your TV recycled by a professional

Some cities and local jurisdictions offer TV recycling, either by dropping them off at a recycling center or as part of your regular curbside pickup. Contact your local government for details.

There are a number of organizations that will help you recycle your electronics, including televisions. See the Environmental Protection Agency page for more information. MRM Recycling also has a page to help you locate options in your area.

A number of manufacturers have their own programs or partner with companies that do. See the Electronics Take-Back Coalition page for more information. Keep in mind that just because a manufacturer has a program doesn’t mean there will be a drop-off location near you. For example, the nearest LG drop-off point in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, is over 500 miles away.

If you are now thinking of all the small electronics in your home that you could recycle, check out our guide to recycling phones, laptops, batteries and cameras for free.

Or you could have a garage sale.

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Sidewalk or garage sale

Depending on where you live, you can let your neighbors take care of it. I’m hesitant to even mention this one since if you live in a neighborhood where people go to grab stuff from the sidewalk, you probably know that. And if you don’t know, it’s not a great look to leave your trash on the sidewalk for days or weeks. So your mileage may vary on this one.

A yard or yard sale is another option. Again, easier than carrying it yourself.

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Is your TV really worth anything?

Most people remember what they paid for a TV and assume it’s still worth something years after buying it. It is simply not true. TVs have gotten so cheap that there just isn’t much of a market for used TVs these days, especially if the TV wasn’t that expensive to begin with.

Although there are some exceptions, here are some general rules:

It’s probably worth something if:

  • This is a high end TV from the last five years or so
  • It’s an OLED TV, except maybe the first models
  • It’s taller than 65 inches
  • It’s a CRT (in very specific situations, see below)

It’s probably not worth much if:

  • It was a budget LCD, even mid-range
  • He is over 10 years old
  • It’s a plasma
  • It’s an early smart TV (unless streaming apps still work)
  • It’s an old tube television (CRT)

It certainly isn’t worth anything if:

  • It’s a rear projection TV.
  • It’s a CRT RPTV (heed this tip: lift with your knees, not your back)
  • It has no HDMI

Now, there are exceptions to these rules. You may be able to find a collector for your 500 pound RCA console TV. Maybe an archeology student is doing a project on early flat screen televisions and finds your Fujitsu candy a good candidate for his thesis.

TVs with start HDMI versions like 1.4 aren’t useless, but they have fewer uses. They might not play well with modern streaming devices or game consoles.

Anyone who’s ever used one of these Atari controllers knows that fingers won’t make it move.

RyanJLane/Getty Images

There is one specific situation where a CRT might be worth something. Hardcore retro gamers prefer to play early video game consoles over CRT, and these are becoming harder and harder to find, for obvious reasons. They’re not just looking for any CRT, though, and if you have one of the greatest of any era, it might be harder than it’s worth to get it out of your house. And forget to ship one.

If the CRT has components (red, green, blue, plus two for audio), or even S-Video inputs, that’s promising. If it doesn’t have at least the composite (yellow, plus red and white for audio), it probably won’t sell for much.


As well as covering TV and other display technology, Geoff takes photographic tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all of its tours and adventures.

He wrote a best-selling science fiction novel about city-sized submarines, as well as a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.

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