By. Michael Condra
Earth Day has already past, but you still have options to curb your e-wastefrom ending up in landfills. While the talk about recycling your old computer is not new there is the option to donate it for a better cause. Deciding what you should do with old computers can be confusing when both sound promising. Figuring out which one is the right choice is something that’s not always clear or completely understood. Here is a breakdown between the two which will help you decide what’s best for you.
Recycling old computers involves breaking down the components in order to attain the rare Earth metals inside. Rare Earth metals are highly valuable and can be reused for other electronic devices. While this may sound like a win for the environment that is not always the case when it comes to recycling centers. Many recycling centers have been known to send old computers to developing countries, where there are loose regulations and its cheaper than breaking down the device. In one recent study by Motherboard, nearly “40%” of all electronic recycling centers have proven to be sham operations that don’t properly recycle old computers.
The outcome has not been as successful as it could be when proper recycling can save on energy, water and rare Earth metals.
Donating for a cause
Another way of putting old computers and other electronics to better use is by donating it to a greater cause. Organizations such as human-I-T works on this issue by accepting computers from individuals and companies that would otherwise send them to be recycled. Our team uses a different process to refurbish old devices by clearing the hard drive of any data and preparing it for our distribution events at either OurCycle LA, PowerOn or Frontier programs. These programs are designed to give back to the community for low-income families throughout Los Angeles and serves as a model to connect more people online.
Supporting others who may not have sufficient funds can benefit greatly from a donated computer. The barriers to computer and home internet access has led to wider income disparity for families and lower educational attainment for those seeking better opportunities. With OurCyle LA, we have been able to expand opportunities for others while reducing the amount of e-waste that is shipped to landfills. By helping others we can also inspire more people to do the same, such as Mehrin Rahman, who wanted to make a “positive impact on someone’s access to education and information, or go to a community that needs it, is reason enough to donate.”
Donating has shown to have a multiplier effect for entire communities. By redirecting e-waste away from landfills to supporting others and motivating more people can ease several issues with the digital divide. Going forward with this will help you decide what you should do next with your old computer.
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