Every few years we are forced to upgrade the devices that are so much a part of our everyday lives. In fact, we explored the limited lifespan of technology in a recent blog post. For example, the resolution on your new camera soon becomes grainy when compared to what’s available just months after you’ve made your purchase. Smartphone operating system upgrades soon make it impossible to run the apps that you so love. That 42” TV just doesn’t show your football game like the new 80” 4K Ultra HD that stares you down every time you hit the electronics section of your favorite store.
The rapid advance in technology is causing a glut in tech devices such as computers, mobile devices, camcorders, game systems, computer hardware, and video players. In 2014 the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste. To put that in perspective, that amount of garbage would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. If you lined up those trucks they would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back again! The EPA estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled and the rest goes to the landfill. Once the materials in the computers start to break down or are incinerated, they release a variety of toxins that are harmful to the environment as well as to humans. Unfortunately, a lot of that e-waste could have been recycled, up-cycled, or useful to someone else.
I found out that I am part of the 68% of consumers who are stockpiling old devices for no reason. For starters, I have an old iMac G5, a ‘90’s Compaq computer, and a handful of phones and mp3 players. You can probably relate. So it’s time we start doing something about the problem! It’s time we stop dumping them and adding to the fastest-growing source of waste; instead, we can save time, space, and money by properly “disposing” of out-of-date devices.
There are many local organizations that would love your old tech; for example, schools and low-income members of the community. And your donations are tax deductible. If you don’t want to spend the time to find a taker, there are organizations that will pick up your items, refurbish them, and donate them to someone in need. human-I-T is one organization in particular and is a non-profit that transforms unwanted or inoperative technology and makes it operational again for those in need. Consumers as well as companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Cars.com have all reduced e-waste and benefited the community by donating technology to human-I-T.
If you are worried about the data on the device, organizations that refurbish outdated technology follow strict guidelines on removing data from devices so that it can no longer be accessed. This process follows guidelines specified by such laws as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
Your old tech can find new life with low-income families, veterans, those with disabilities, and schools and organizations. Consider that in 2014 human-I-T was able to divert more than 15 tons of e-waste from landfills. But even more importantly, what was once considered waste was turned into tools to help kids to stay current in their studies and the unemployed to find jobs.