7 things you should never throw away (or you could get in legal trouble)


By now, we all know how to separate garbage 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.

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

Many everyday items have their safe disposal methods. Note: I include general guidelines here, but always check with your local waste authority to be sure.

1. Household batteries

Batteries fall into two broad categories: single-use and rechargeable. The way to get rid of them is quite different.

  • You can usually throw away standard alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, 9 volts and the like) that power your remote control, flashlight and other everyday household items in the trash.
  • button or button cell batteries — the kind you’ll find in calculators, watches, hearing aids, and car key fobs — can contain silver and mercury and should No be thrown away. Take them to a battery recycler or participating retailers that provide battery recovery services.
  • Lithium-ion and nickel-cadmium batteries they are most commonly found in cell phones, laptops, tablets, digital cameras, power tools, and toys. These batteries should never be thrown in the trash or placed in the recycling bin. They should be taken to separate recycling or collection centers for household hazardous waste.
  • Small sealed lead acid batteries they are found in emergency devices, security systems, mobility scooters, and other special-use items. These must also be taken to special disposal centers.

To find more information on recycling and disposal, go to this resource page on Earth911. Select a battery type from the dropdown menu on the left and enter your zip code. Be aware that stores like Staples, Home Depot, and Best Buy have battery delivery programs.

One of the most common questions about my program’s battery is: “What is the best way to make my The telephones Does the battery last longer? Tap or click here for some secrets to get more out of yours when you’re not near 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 exchange the old device when you buy a new one. Most manufacturers will recycle it for free, even if you don’t get credit for it. Take a look at Apple’s program, for example.

Earth911’s resource page has locations that will accept your old phone or tablet.

Before you give away or recycle your old device, it is imperative to perform a factory reset. Otherwise, you are potentially giving away a lot of personal information. Tap or click here for instructions on how to clean your phone, computer, and smart speaker before disposing of them.

Here’s an idea. Turn your old phone or tablet into something completely different. Tap or click here for a 60-second audio tip on how to turn your phone, computer, tablet, or laptop into a motion-activated camera.

3. Televisions

Your television contains glass, lead, and other dangerous chemicals and should not end up in a landfill. And unless it’s time to pick up the bulk trash, don’t leave your old TV on the curb.

Try calling Best Buy, Walmart, and other local electronics stores to see if they accept old televisions for recycling. If a new one is delivered and installed, they must take the old one, although there may be a fee.

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

Consider donating the TV to a friend or a thrift store. Perhaps a local retirement home or school could use it. Try posting to a group that doesn’t buy anything in your area if none of your friends and family bite.

Before you throw away your TV, sign out of all connected services and clear your Wi-Fi password. Yes, your TV is watching. Here’s how to stop some of the tracking.

4. Car batteries

Car batteries contain lead and acid and pose a serious environmental risk to humans and animals. That means don’t throw the old one in a dumpster.

If you replace your battery at a garage, they should take the old one and dispose of it for you. This is the law in some jurisdictions, and it applies to retailers who sell car batteries, even if they don’t sell or install one to you.

Check with retailers like AutoZone, Pep Boys, Advance Auto Parts, Walmart, and even local repair shops. Your old car battery could be taken off your hands.

Tech update: Dashcams are on my must-have vehicle tech checklist. Tap or click here to see three great options at different prices.

5. Lighters

Like batteries, there are disposable and reusable lighters.

You can safely throw those cheap plastic lighters you can pick up anywhere in the trash if they’re empty, though this depends on state law.

Do not flush it down the sink if there is still lighter fluid left. Go outside and light the lighter until the fluid 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 butane lighters can be used repeatedly, but when it comes time to dispose of them, be careful. Make sure they are empty before you throw them away, and if you have leftover lighter fluid or butane, take them to the nearest household hazardous waste landfill. Again, never pour this stuff down any drain.

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

I ditched lighter fluid entirely and bought a refillable arc lighter. When it turns off, plug it in. Tap or click here to see my favorites, including one under $10.

6. Thermometers

Old school glass thermometers can contain mercury, which is highly toxic to the environment and living things. Don’t throw it away and be careful not to break it.

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

7. Car tires

Car tires contain steel belts that can puncture landfills and pollute the environment. When you change your tires at a store, the old ones should be taken with you. There may be a small fee.

If you have old tires, most car dealers and auto retailers will take them in for recycling, although you may have to pay for this service. You can also call your garbage service to schedule a collection.

Keep your tech savvy on the go

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

Chinese super apps inspire Elon Musk’s Twitter plans, a solar-powered city kept power during Hurricane Ian, new phishing attacks, TikTok teaches car thieves, the world’s oldest webcam and how to use our phone to hang photos easily. Also, 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 look up my last name, “Komando.”

What questions about the digital lifestyle do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on her local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here to watch Kim’s free podcasts.


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