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How to Dispose of Unwanted Home Office Hardware While Being Green

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: John Garger•updated: 2/10/2010

When you’re ready to let go of broken or unwanted printers, black and white Web cams, digital cameras, and old computers, don’t just toss them in the trash. That’s no good for the environment. There are lots of ways to be green and keep this material out of our landfills and oceans.

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    As a home office user, you likely often replace broken or outdated hardware. When you need to dispose of a computer, sound card, video game, printer, or any other computer component, don’t just put it in the trash bin outside. The consequences are devastating to the environment. In fact, our landfills and oceans are filled with waste that does not degrade easily and will be around for eons. The waste we’re creating has a name too; it’s called “e-waste”. E-waste is becoming quite a hazard to our landfills, rivers, and oceans, and is posing a serious threat to our water and air. Learn how to be green and conscientiously dispose of your unwanted office equipment.

    Beyond creating a problem for humans, all of this waste also creates an environmental hazard for birds, animals, and sea life. Therefore it’s important to recycle equipment instead of throwing it away. Of course, it will eventually get thrown out, but perhaps by that time, there will be better measures in place for dealing with it.

    You may have kids or grandkids too, who are just itching to get their hands on a digital camera. Certainly, you wouldn’t give an 8-year old a new camera, but giving them your old one is certainly a way to recycle it, while at the same time teaching them about responsibility and taking care of expensive equipment.

    Finally, you may have friends or other relatives who would appreciate older equipment. For instance, the teenager next door who is experimenting and building his first computer could use your old video or sound cards, or even an old PC. Builders are known for recycling parts from other’s PCs, including reusing old hard drives, CD drives, and floppy drives. They may even be able to use the motherboard.

    You can also give older equipment to schools, although some schools can’t accept it. There is a lot of red tape involved in giving to schools and colleges, but if you have a favorite alma mater, you can certainly give it a whirl.

    Of course, churches also are a good way to go. Churches have many uses for older equipment, including giving to charities they sponsor, using the equipment in their own church and classrooms, or, to giving the equipment members who need it. They may even set up a computer lab with your donated equipment!

    Tip: To find a local charity, search the Internet for donate used computers. You can also call your city’s public information line for suggestions.

    Tip: You can put an old working monitor by the curb for a day or so, and hope that someone drives by and picks it up. That often works as a quick way to recycle unwanted working equipment.

    To test how recycling works in your area, make a phone call to the city’s Public Information Office. Tell them you have computer equipment you need to get rid of, and you’d like to either give away the working equipment to a charity or throw it away. If you have nonworking equipment, state that as well.

    You can also find companies that take in your old equipment and recycle it. One such company is named Computer Reset (www.computerreset.com). This company, like many others who do this type of work, recycle parts, repair computer equipment, and sell PCs and salvaged parts. They don’t charge for taking in your old equipment.

    While third party companies like Computer Reset use what they can and resell what they can, they also go to great pains to recycle the rest. They break down scrap metal and haul it off for recycling, they remove circuit boards and sell them to companies who grind them up for their precious metals, and they ship used monitors overseas to people who use the parts inside them for components in their own. These companies even take printers, VCRs, and other equipment. It’s a good way to get rid of equipment and feel green about it. At least the entire thing isn’t going to end up in a landfill somewhere.