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Why should you recycle printer ink cartridges? Save the planet, save a buck.

Today I remembered to replace my old ink cartridges. I never throw them in the trash. Electronic waste (e-waste) – which includes cell phones, batteries, USB cords and even televisions – fills up our landfills, and the chemicals released are toxic to our environment.

E-waste is one of the most damaging forms of garbage filling up our landfills. releases amounts of  lead, which can attack the nervous system and lead to anemia, severe stomach aches and many other ailments and is even strong enough to kill a child. It also can release amounts of cadmium, copper, barium and mercury.

I’m not trying to be the soothsayer here, but the fact is there are SO many ways you can recycle your electronics and cartridges, and some actually pay you in cash or in free stuff.

For example, if you take your ink cartridges to Office Depot and you are a member of the store’s Worklife Rewards program, you can get up to $2 in Recycling Rewards.

Likewise, if you’re a member of OfficeMax’s MaxPerks recycling program you can get up to $3 in rewards for every qualifying HP, Lexmark or Dell ink cartridge you drop off to recycle.

“Qualifying” means the cartridge must be in good condition. For instance, if you still happen to have and use that ink-refill syringe they sold on TV about ten years ago, you won’t get anything for it.

I’m also not sure why Officemax doesn’t offer to recycle its store-brand cartridges, especially because it is so much cheaper than ts name-brand competitors.

But there are LOTS of other ways. You can find lots of online cartridge recycling programs here. Also, the USPS is now piloting a program that allows you to get a pre-paid envelope to send in your ink cartridges, cell phones and other small electronic devices. The USPS sells the cartridges to be refurbished, so while you aren’t making a profit from this, it helps the fledgling USPS recover some much-needed revenue to keep our postage rates down, our mail carriers employed and our post offices open.

Check locally to see which stores will take your ink cartridges, and if any offer incentives for it. In doing so you’ll do your part to help the environment and get a small kickback for yourself.

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