Rethink Throwing Out

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Discarding electronic equipment improperly makes for larger landfills.

New year; new life says the popular saying. New Year is around the corner and it’s time to get rid of all our electronic stuff. However, concerns are growing about the increasing threat of health hazards and dangers to the environment from discarded computers that may contain highly toxic materials including mercury, lead, arsenic, and chromium.

According to a study conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, electronic waste is becoming one of America’s fastest growing problems. E-waste makes up 4 percent of the United States municipal solid waste stream and is growing at a tremendously accelerated rate. For these reasons, we have to learn “how to recycle” one more time, with our computers.

Fast-teks, a leading computer service outsourcing company, offers tips to consumers and businesses on recycling their computers.

? Don’t just toss your computers and accessories in the trash bin. If equipment is five years old or less, it can be refurbished, updated and donated to various non-profit organizations. Older equipment can be salvaged for parts through government and local organizations. Contact your local school board or organizations such as Computers for Schools, Gifts in Kind America, the National Cristina Fund or The On It Foundation, that donates to schools and groups in need of technology.

? Clear your computer of all personal and business information. There are disk-cleaning utilities available on-line that will clear all internet histories, data, e-mails and passwords. Emptying your computers trash can does not insure your data is gone.

? Don’t forget the accessories. If you choose to donate your computer, don’t forget to include the accessories that go with it such as the keyboard, mouse, software packages and monitor. 

? If your computer is older than five years, locate and contact your local computer recycler or manufacturer for instructions on how to recycle your computer. They may have a pick-up service or have specific instructions on how to package your parts for drop-off.

? Keep a record of your donation for tax purposes. Your computer donation has a value (current fair market value) and is tax deductible.

For more on electronic waste, or disposing of hazardous household items, visit our sister publication, Mother Earth News.

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