Take these 4 steps with old phones, tablets to protect yourself and the environment

- It's out with the old, in the with the new. But when it comes to your electronic devices like phones, tablets and computers, you must first erase your past before moving on.

"Before you start talking about factory erase, you want to remove those accounts from that phone," says Sherri Smith of Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Before kicking your phones, tablets, iPods, laptops to the curb, do this housekeeping.

1. Unpair your device.

"Apple only lets you register five devices at a time,'" she says. "You might as well get it out of the way and do it now."

2. Unregister your cloud account.

"It basically cuts that iPhone off from your iCloud," Smith says.

3. Reset your iPhone or encrypt your Android-based phone. This deletes all your data.

4. Recycle the device. When it comes to tossing the electronics, don't put them out with the trash, which is harmful to the environment.

"There are plenty of sites online that you can resell your phone to or you can, of course, trade it in at your carrier," Smith says. "There are plenty of charities that use refurbished phones."

New York City also offers an e-waste pickup program. You must fill out an online request form to have your electronics picked up from Monday to Friday.

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