Wait...don't throw that old computer in the landfill! Recycling or reusing computers is easy and good for the environment.
Seventy-five percent of all obsolete computing equipment is currently in storage. In other words, it's gathering dust in that unused office, shoved under a desk somewhere, or being used as a plant stand in the corner. But good options for disposal and recycling of old computers abound.
The following are EasyTech's top tips for safely getting rid of unused computer equipment. You'll free up storage space while helping our environment stay clean and green.
Many of the basic components in an old computer can be reused. This includes plastic from keyboards, metal from computer housing, and glass from older monitors. At the same time, toxic substances in computers like lead and cadmium need to be kept out of landfills and groundwater. Since January 2012, Staples has recycled more than five million pounds of electronics.
Fortunately, computer recycling is now an easy option in most communities. Many towns have public drop-off stations for your unused equipment, while computer retailers such as Staples offer free recycling as well. These recyclers will ensure electronic equipment and batteries are responsibly reused.
Recycling your old computers is a great choice when they are broken and beyond repair, but equipment that still works can be sold or donated to charity. Many schools, churches, and other community organizations will be happy to take your computers when your office decides to make an upgrade. In fact, computers that are broken yet repairable are often welcomed by these kinds of institutions. (Be sure to ask before donating equipment that is not in working order.)
Another option, offered by Dell and Goodwill, is called the Dell Reconnect program. This service is a residential computer-recycling program that offers recyclers the opportunity to drop off old gear at Goodwill locations. This free service is tax deductible and not only are you recycling gear, you're also giving the community an opportunity to use technology they might otherwise be unable to afford.
Selling your outdated computing equipment is another option. Many businesses may be surprised to know that their unwanted computers can be listed on popular classified ad sites and turned into a bit of extra cash. Just because you might not need those old computers doesn't mean someone else might not, and if that's the case there are effective recycling programs out there like Gazelle that actually pay you fairly well for your gear when it's no longer wanted.
We all like brand new things—new cars, new houses, new computers. But before you decide on junking your old computer equipment, find out whether component upgrades might be a better option. The addition of more memory or storage, or adding better graphics capability, can give an old computer new life. RAM upgrades might save you money and reduce your impact on the environment.
You might also be able to use some of the components in your old computers with your newer systems. Old hard drives can serve as data storage or backup receptacles. Your old monitor can be hooked up in tandem with a new monitor for extra viewing area (a dual monitor setup often provides small business users with a productivity boost. Want to know how? It's a snap! Just follow these official dual-monitor setup instructions from Microsoft).
Before You Recycle
Proper computer disposal means being careful of our environment. It also means being careful with the data those old computers contain. You don't want customer or financial information getting into the wrong hands when you dispose of your computers.
Erasing files from your computer won't be enough to keep a determined data thief from getting at your information. Data-wiping software can make information retrieval more difficult, although even this might not stop a sophisticated crook.
If you are donating or selling old computers and they contain sensitive information, you might consider removing the hard drive first and disposing of it separately. Retailers that offer computer recycling usually ensure that data is effectively destroyed in their disposal process, so this is a good option when privacy is a concern.