Computer Recycling in the D.C. Area

While we are shopping for the holidays, we should remember to recycle our old electronics. This article covers recycling information and locations for the Virginia, D.C., and Maryland area.

Dangers of Computer Waste

Old computers and monitors have harmful materials that can seep into the ground water and air if thrown in your normal trash. The cadmium and mercury in displays can damage the nervous system. Computers also may contain lead (causing birth defects and learning disabilities) and CFCs (destroying the ozone layer).


If you have a working computer, you can get rid of it through:

  1. Craigslist (Washington D.C. metro area) has sections for selling or giving away free stuff.
  2. Freecycle is a free program to give people items for reuse. They have groups everywhere, including, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
  3. D.C. Goodwill accepts computers that are not more than 5 years old. They will not take CRT monitors, the older large monitors that have been replaced by LCDs.

Recycling Computers and eWaste

The easiest way to recycle an old computer is to do it with the purchase of a new computer. Apple, Dell, HP, Sony, Toshiba and others have a corporate recycling program that allows you to give them your old computer after buying your new computer.

This image shows the Free Recycling Kit option that Dell provides in their services customization when you buy a new computer.

Drop-off Locations for Computers and other eWaste

The EPA eCycling site is the closest thing to a definitive set of inks to eCycling programs across the country. Below are the best links I found to the D.C. area programs:

Washington D.C.

DC Free Electronic Disposal Sites:
DPW (Department of Public Works) offers free, weekly Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and electronic recycling (e-cycling) drop-off service at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station, 3200 Benning Road, NE, and at the Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Station, 4900 Bates Road, NE, each Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm.


Arlington, VA HAZMAT Program:
Arlington residential households can recycle computers and other electronic items at the County’s HHM drop off sites.

Virginia Department of Environment Computers and Electronics Recycling, List of Virginia Collections Centers


Maryland Department of Environment Electronic Recycling Collection Events and Locations:
Montgomery Country Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center

Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges can be dropped off at Micro Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Office supply stores such as Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot take used toner cartridges and sometimes even give you credit toward a store purchase for dropping them off.

Cell Phones

Cell phones can be dropped off at cell phone stores. Working phones can also be donated to women’s shelters. Unactivated phones still have the ability to call 911 so they can be useful.

Recycling Can Be Easy

With many recycling options, you can easily dispose of your electronics safely.

Please let us know if you have any corrections or additions to this post.

Holiday Shopping Deals Online

Deal Sites

It’s easier than ever to find good shopping deals online. The biggest sites that aggregate online deals are:

These sites have forums where people discuss Hot Deals, Black Friday Deals, Freebies, and Coupons. This is where people go to find amazing deals.

Shopaholics also enjoy the innovative site, which sells one item a day until it is sold out. Occasionally there are “woot-offs” where they sell multiple items sequentially over a 24 hour period, each until they sell out. During a woot-off, they might sell what they call a “Bag of Crap” (BOC) which is 3 random things for $15. It could include a new Xbox 360 or it could be pens. Oddly, people on the slickdeals and fatwallet forums get very excited about the BOCs. I guess it appeals to people who like to gamble.

Some lesser-known deal sites include:


As noted in an earlier post, you don’t want to get ripped off at a big box store when buying electronics. Look at Newegg, Amazon, and for their deals. And whatever you do, don’t buy any cables from Best Buy. Best Buy and most retail stores sells HDMI cables for $100 that can be bought for $5-10 from

There is also no need for a warranty from Best Buy, as the items are normally insured by the manufacturer. The most common failures are discovered immediately, when you can still bring the item back to the store for a return.

If you want to shop locally in the D.C. area for electronics, the best store is MicroCenter in Fairfax, Virginia. They have knowledgable staff and a wide selection of computers, electronics, software, game systems, and TVs for reasonable prices.

HD Radio in Washington D.C.

What is HD Radio?

Unfortunately, HD Radio has a misleading name. The letters “HD” stand for nothing. They only mean that it is digital instead of to analog. Digital does not mean that it is higher definition or higher quality than analog. It does mean that radio stations can fit more channels on the same spectrum.

What does HD Radio give you?

The Washington D.C. metro area has some great HD Radio stations. HD Radio gives you free extra channels to listen to outside of what is available on a normal AM/FM radio. Every channel listed below with a -2 or -3 is an extra channel that is not offered in analog AM or FM.

Washington D.C. HD Radio Listing

WAMU-HD 88.5 FM Nws/Tlk/Inf, American University
WAMU-HD2 88.5-2 FM Bluegrass, American University
WAMU-HD3 88.5-3 FM BBC / NPR / WTMD, American University
WPFW Soon in HD 89.3 FM Jazz, Pacifica Foundation
WCSP-HD 90.1 FM Nws/Tlk/Inf, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WCSP-HD2 90.1-2 FM C-Span, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WCSP-HD3 90.1-3 FM C-Span 2, National Cable Satellite Corporation
WETA-HD 90.9 FM Clscl/NPR, Greater Washington Educational Telecomm Association
WKYS Soon in HD 93.9 FM Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
WTGB-HD 94.7 FM Alternative, CBS Radio
WTGB-HD2 94.7-2 FM Adult Alternative – The Jam, CBS Radio
WPGC-HD 95.5 FM CHR/Rhymc, CBS Radio
WPGC-HD2 95.5-2 FM Gospel, CBS Radio
WHUR-HD 96.3 FM Urban AC, Howard University
WHUR-HD2 96.3-2 FM WHUR World, Howard University
WASH-HD 97.1 FM AC, Clear Channel
WASH-HD2 97.1-2 FM Smooth Jazz, Clear Channel
WMZQ-HD 98.7 FM Country, Clear Channel
WMZQ-HD2 98.7-2 FM Classic Country, Clear Channel
WLZL Soon in HD 99.1 FM Tropical, CBS Radio
WLZL-HD2 Soon in HDon 99.1-2 FM Hispanic AC, CBS Radio
WIHT-HD 99.5 FM CHR, Clear Channel
WIHT-HD2 99.5-2 FM New CHR, Clear Channel
WBIG-HD 100.3 FM Oldies, Clear Channel
WBIG-HD2 100.3-2 FM Oldies 50’s & 60’s, Clear Channel
WWDC-HD 101.1 FM Rock, Clear Channel
WWDC-HD2 101.1-2 FM eRockster, Clear Channel
WMMJ Soon in HD 102.3 FM Urban AC, Radio One Inc.
WTOP-HD 103.5 FM News, Bonneville International Corp.
WTOP-HD2 103.5-2 FM iChannel -Global Unsigned Bands, Bonneville International Corp.
WTOP-HD3 103.5-3 FM Traffic and Weather, Bonneville International Corp.
WPRS-HD 104.1 FM Black Gospl, Radio One Inc.
WJZW-HD 105.9 FM Oldies, Citadel
WJZW-HD2 105.9-2 FM Smooth Jazz, Citadel
WJFK-HD 106.7 FM Talk/Sprts, CBS Radio
WRQX-HD 107.3 FM Hot AC, Citadel
WWWT-HD 107.7 FM Talk, Bonneville International Corp.
WTNT-HD 570 AM Talk/News, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WMAL-HD 630 AM News/Talk, Citadel
WXTR Soon in HD 730 AM Sports, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WTEM-HD 980 AM Sprts/Talk, Red Zebra Broadcasting
WYCB-HD 1340 AM Gospel, Radio One Inc.
WOL-HD 1450 AM News/Talk, Radio One Inc.
WWWT Soon in HD 1500 AM Talk, Bonneville International Corp.

How to get HD Radio?

HD Radio’s Wikipedia page lists several HD Radio receivers for your car and home.

One of my favorites is the Sony XDR-F1HD. This costs about $100 and needs to be connected to an amp/receiver. It can not be connected directly to speakers unless they are powered speakers that can be connected with RCA cables.

If you need a new amp/receiver, there are some that have HD Radio built-in. My favorite of these is the Yamaha RX-V863, which can be ordered for $619 currently with a little haggling.

Is HD Radio worth it?

HD Radio has been around since 2002 and has been somewhat slow to take off. But if you like the extra stations it gives you, it can be worth the cost of the new equipment. Unlike Sirius and XM, there is no subscription to get HD Radio.

Washington D.C. offers more HD stations than most markets. The extra stations cover many genres and niches such as News, Bluegrass, Alternative, Country, Oldies, Jazz, and Gospel. If any of those stations interest you, give HD Radio a try.

Murky Coffee incident

Murky Coffee here in Arlington, Virginia, has great coffee and is a relaxing place to work on your laptop with free WiFi.

They were recently a small internet sensation when an angry cusomer was denied espresso over ice. The customer blogged about it.  Boing Boing and the Washington Post picked up on the funny story and Murky Coffee has responded on their site here and then here.  It seems that the customer considered espresso over ice to be a god-given right in a coffee shop. Whatever the case, they make good coffee and are worth visiting.

Where to buy electronics

While Best Buy may be popular for electronics, they are rarely the best buy. Their staff is known to make up answers. Their online prices are not as good as other Internet stores. And their in-store prices are often higher than their online prices, despite what their in-store website shows. Their Geek Squad is poorly trained and could try to take a video of you taking a shower. So instead of driving to Best Buy, first look around online.

Amazon has decent prices, but is also just a good place to shop around for what you want. Between Amazon and Amazon’s third party sellers, their selection is huge and their reviews can help you figure out what is best for you.

Newegg has long been a favorite electronics seller because of their great prices. They are usually one of the first places I visit. They sell lots of electronics, computers, computer parts, accessories, and software.

Cables, such as HDMI cables for HD TVs, are a huge rip-off in most retail stores. Best Buy and Circuit City will charge $40-$100 for a cable that is no better than a $5 cable from MonoPrice. MonoPrice’s cables are so cheap that you might suspect that they’re selling stolen goods. But MonoPrice has been around since 2002 selling quality cables and parts for their real price.

Although their site is not as attractive as MonoPrice’s, Blue Jeans Cable also offers a good deal on cables, especially if you need something special that is custom made.

While their prices aren’t the most competitive, Crutchfield offers a comprehensive site for home theater equipment. Their phone sales people are also knowledgeable.

There are times when you need a real physical store. For example, laptops have different “feels” and are good to play with before purchasing. Luckily, in the D.C. area, we have a great store for electronics.

Micro Center, with 21 stores nationwide, has a store here in Fairfax, Virginia. They have good prices and a wide selection of computer equipment and software. They have a television section for large LCDs and Plasmas. Unique today, they have a section just for selling Apple products. Micro Center is great for geeks too because they sell everything you need to build a computer from the ground up. MicroCenter also has a bookstore and a game section for PC and console gaming.

Micro Center‘s employees are generally quite knowledgeable, especially compared to those at Best Buy. They make money on sales commissions by putting a sticker on items that they help you to find. On checkout, those stickers are scanned for comissions.

If you’re shopping specifically for an Apple product or accessory, Apple’s retail stores are great and have an intelligent staff. Since Apple keeps prices the same everywhere, you won’t feel ripped off shopping there. There are only a few ways to get prices slightly better than the standard list price from Apple. You can get an Educational or Government discount from Apple. Or you can go to a third-party seller that might offer a small discount or combo package that Apple does not have. Amazon is the best of the third-party sellers now. They offer $100-$150 off of most current iMacs.

Although Best Buy is ubiquotus, there are many better alternatives. Give some of these other electronics stores a try.