A New Year and Obsolete Technology

Your obsolete computer equipment needs a proper resting place
Your obsolete computer equipment needs a proper resting place

Here in our Re-feathered Nest my husband and I have been trying to be more environmentally conscious. Maybe it’s because we know the world we are a part of will be the world our someday grand child will live in and we want to to do our best to be good caretakers.

Since we also work in the recycling industry we tend to be a little more aware of different aspects of the “reuse and repurpose” life cycle of thing.  Something we know well is the electronics recycling world. We work at a place where electronics are manually disassembled in order to better sort out the parts to divide into a possible of 70+ scrap categories.

So, I take my soapbox stand for a few minutes to talk to you about your electronics recycling.  This is the beginning of a new year and we have just come through the Christmas season with the exchanging of gifts.  Some of those gifts may have been household electronic items.

According to an article in APICS magazine (membership required to read the article), the author Marco Ugarte write about how many of our consumer goods have made an effort to make more sustainable products, also known as “green”.

For instance, the common household personal computer are now designed to meet Energy Star standards.  This means they are more energy efficient and also reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and yet remain cost-efficient (good news for the consumers).

“In 2011, Energy Star-qualified products prevented 210 million metric tons of GHG emissions (equivalent to the annual emissions of 41 million vehicles) while reducing utility bills by $23 billion,” Ugarte writes.

The good thing is that if you are making a decision to purchase an Energy Star standard piece of equipment you are doing your part to help make the world a better place.   But, if you have a piece of household electronics equipment that is now obsolete and you don’t want it in your house any longer, you must take the next step of stewardship and dispose of it properly.

You have a few choices.   If it still works, you may can give it away to someone else you know who would like it.  If it still works, you may can sell it if it’s not a dinosaur piece of equipment that no one wants.  You may opt to give it away to charity.  Please, let me give you a suggestion.  If you have a computer or laptop that won’t run the newest software that you want, then the person in the charity isn’t going to be able to run the piece of software either.  It amazes me the folks that think charity organizations want equipment that only runs on Windows 95.

So, what can you do with your obsolete consumer electronics?  Find a local business or organization that will let you bring it to them for recycling.  Be careful though.  If you are recycling anything that has information on the hard drive, you want to make sure that you are delivering your equipment to some place that will destroy the hard drives or wipe them clean of information.  Ask questions.  Do research.  Oh, and as for those  huge CRT monitors that were as big a microwave oven?  If some place says they will take it for free, be very cautious.  Most likely, they are delivering that to China which is illegal.  Don’t be surprised if a reputable electronics recyclers ask you to pay for CRT recycling.  It does actually cost money to properly disassemble the equipment which has hardly any value in it’s plastics or recycled CRT glass.

A good jumping off point to find information on recycling your computers or laptop is at the EPA website.

As you think about refeathering your empty nest, consider thinking about if you really NEED the newest and greatest gadget.  If you do, remember to plan on what you will do with your old equipment.  Tree Huggers will thank you  =)

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