• Print

computerintrash.jpgOne of the questions that I am asked over and over is "What can I do with this old computer -- or this old gadget?" Whatever you do, don't throw pollute our environment by throwing it in the trash. There are many options for getting rid of old pieces of equipment. You just need to know where to go and what to do.

computerintrash.jpgAs the price of new gadgets and computer equipment falls, our fast-paced world of technology is leaving a trail of antiquated equipment behind. Hundreds of thousands of computers, televisions, and cell phones become obsolete in the US every day. That's millions of gadgets that are ready for the trash each year!

Yet, the trash is not the place for most of this equipment because much of it contains toxic materials that can seep into and contaminate the soil. The lead, mercury, and other chemicals in old computers, monitors, and televisions are especially bad for our environment. So we need to think about our environment when getting rid of old equipment.

First, consider putting your old equipment to use in your own home. That old television may not be too bad for an extra in the den or the kitchen. Perhaps that old cell phone should be kept as a backup. Or maybe your children, parents or an aunt or uncle could put your old computer to good use.

If you have no takers in your own family, consider donating the equipment to a local church, school, or charity. Really old computers may not be welcome, but computers that are less than five years old and most other pieces of electronics are usually received with open arms. Charity groups can often give you a donation receipt for your taxes. Goodwill has more than 3,200 Goodwill donation locations in North America. Although you should check first, most accept computers and other electronic equipment. The National Christina Foundation will also help you locate an organization that will take your old computers and electronics. They also accept old software, printers, and other computer peripherals.

If you just bought, or are thinking a buying, a new computer, television or other gadget, check out the recycling programs offered by manufacturers. For instance, Dell currently will recycle any old computer with the purchase of a new one. Apple has a program for recycling Apple computers, iPods, and cell phones of any make or model. Dell and Toshiba will recycle any old Dell or Toshiba computer, respectively. Gateway, HP, and Toshiba all have trade-in plans. These programs can be an easy way to get rid of your old equipment. You may even be able to get a coupon for a few dollars off on a new purchase.

There are also a variety of programs by other manufacturers These programs vary by manufacturer and can change often, so you should always check when you are ready to recycle your equipment.

It is easier now to recycle your old equipment, than it has ever been before. Even many stores that sell electronics have recycling options. Costco, Best Buy, Staples, and Office Depot all have trade in and/or recycling programs. These programs vary greatly. Some take cell phones and ink cartridges, others will recycle larger items. Many of these recycling services are free, but some have a slight charge attached. It is best to check out a store near you to see exactly what they offer.

Electronic stores and manufactures are pitching in to recycle products and keep our environment clean. Millions of tons of electronics have already been recycled by companies like Dell, HP, and Staples. These programs, however, are only effective if individuals cooperate. So be sure to get rid of your old electronics responsibly.

Don't throw that old computer, printer, fax machine, copier, cell phone or television into the trash. If you can't put your old electronics to use or donate them, be sure to choose an appropriate recycling program. It may take a little effort, but it helps our environment.... And that's an important consideration!