Give Old Electronics a Second Life – Help Others & Be Green

Instead of hanging on to our old electronics let’s give them a second life. Redeploying equipment helps others, is green, and good for the soul.

Do Any of the Following Ring True?

  1. An old computer is stashed in a closet because it doesn’t have a super fast processor like your new gaming tower.
  2. You are holding onto your old cell phone just in case your newer model breaks or gets lost.
  3. When your all-in-one printer stopped working, you went out and bought a new one and put the old one in the garage.
  4. You take your tablet computer everywhere while your unused notebook computer sits on a shelf.
  5. As you watch your new flat screen TV, an old CRT television gathers dust in the garage.
  6. Although you are currently using a 4-year-old laptop computer, you have been accumulating old electronic equipment for years.

If you nodded your head to one or more of the above statements, like our family, you have old electronics that are candidates for a second life.

Why Should We Give Our Old Electronics a Second Life?

Old Electronics Stored in Garage - Photo: Jo MangeeFirst of all, there are many other people who could put our old unused electronics to good use. Secondly, reusing a piece of equipment is environmentally friendly. It eliminates the resources and energy that would be needed to mine and process raw materials, manufacture, and transport new equipment.

A second life is possible even for equipment that is not working. Some items can be repaired and redeployed. If not repairable, valuable and rare materials can be salvaged and reused in new equipment, which at least reduces new material mining and processing.

Who could benefit from our unused electronics? Kids could do homework or play games on a computer donated to a center that provides a safe place for them to go after school. An old cell phone in the hands of a woman in a women’s shelter could be a means for her to keep in touch with her family, look for work, and start a new life. A Mr. or Ms. Fixit among your friends or family might love to tear apart a broken all-in-one printer, fix it, and give it to a local food bank or animal shelter.

These are just a few of the many second life possibilities for our old electronics.

We Gave Our Old Electronics a Second Life and So Can You

We had been amassing our collection of old electronics for many years, especially computers and monitors as we upgraded to new equipment. Occasionally we would discuss donating the equipment but had let inertia set in and not done anything about it.

That is until this year when I watched a BeGreen2013 event online and took the pledge to e-cycle our unwanted electronics. This also led me to join the EPA’s Pick 5 for the Environment initiative and select e-cycling as one of my Pick 5’s. Now I had made a commitment with a deadline, the end of 2013. May is a traditional time for spring cleaning and decluttering so seemed like an appropriate time to tackle our old electronics.

As it turned it out, it was easier than we anticipated.

High School Computer Lab
Sean Spradley and Daughter Abby - Coast Union High School Electronics Donation Drive
Sean Spradley and Daughter Abby

In May, our local newspaper, The Cambrian, ran a notice saying Coast Union High School was looking for computer equipment donations (working and non-working). On the designated Saturday morning, we loaded up some of our old computer equipment and drove over to the high school. We were met by math and computer teacher, Sean Spradley. He told us the working equipment will be used to furnish a computer lab and the students will learn and practice repair on the non-working equipment. We appreciate teachers like Sean who give of their own time and go the extra mile.

Electronic Recycling at the Farmer’s Market
Members of Unitarian Universalist Community of Cambria - Electronic Recycling Center
UUCC Members

In conjunction with the Cambria Farmer’s Market, the Unitarian Universalist Community of Cambria (UUCC) runs a monthly electronic recycling program. Anyone may drop off electronic items that are working or not like PCs, laptops, cell phones, TVs, printers, and DVD players. The UUCC refurbishes the equipment and passes it on to people in need. The electronic recycling program is very popular and a great service for our community. The last Friday in May was our chance. We collected our remaining electronics, dropped them off with the UUCC volunteers, and then did our weekly shopping at the farmer’s market.

With a little effort, we gave our old electronics a second life and cleared out space in our garage. It feels good to know that equipment that had been sitting idle will be put to use again.

Give Your Old Electronics a Second Life

Now it’s your turn to give your old electronics a second life.

Need help figuring out how and where to recycle, sell, or donate your old electronics? Get ideas by reading the post entitled E-Waste – Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle.


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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

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