Recycle Your Electronics, Too

Do you have a monster in your basement? Your garage? I do. It's a lifetime of discarded computers, VCR's, old stereos from college, some Frankenstein thing that DBF built out of old parts, and other scary remnants of electronic life from long, long ago.

Okay, it's not that bad. But DBF and I are both computer people in "real life" and we each have 3 computers and a home network. No, you didn't read that wrong. Unfortunately, we've been stacking the old stuff in the basement hoping that it would be sucked into some kind or e-waste timewarp or carted off by gnomes or something. In other words, we didn't want to pay to get rid of the stuff.

So what do you do when you need to get rid of this stuff?

  1. First, you can't just throw it in the trash because most older computers and monitors have lead and other metals in them that will leak into the soil and pollute the ground water.

  2. As if #1 isn't a good enough reason, then consider that the computer probably has your personal data on it. Too bad this guy didn't know that. My job at work entails recovering computer data that people think they've deleted. Trust me, I've recovered files that were deleted as far back as 6 years ago!

  3. Recycle with a reputable recycling program. You'll need to do your homework on this one. Alot of communities are now offering recycling programs and your trash company may offer them as well. They may or may not be free. For example, the going rate to dispose of an older CRT0style computer monitor (the behemoths, not the flat panels) is $7.00. That's what it costs to crack it open and safely remove all those cancer-causing metals. Why did I say "reputable"? Because there are some folks out there that are charging the public to recycle their equipment and then just throwing it in the dumpster out back.

    Keep reading for information about a FREE e-recycling disposal coming up here in Kansas City!

  4. Once you've found an e-cycler (cute name, huh?), then you'll want to prepare your old computer stuff for drop-off. Make sure you didn't leave any important CDs, DVDs, floppies, etc. in there. And make sure you don't have any stickers or anything with your name on them. And, last but not least, you'll want to securely wipe your hard drive. FORMATTING THE HARD DRIVE DOES NOT ERASE YOUR INFORMATION. Sorry to yell, but that's important. There are several FREE programs available on the Internet that will help you do this - check out KillDisk or Darik's Boot and Nuke. You will need to be semi-tech savvy or get some help. Whatever it takes, but it needs to be done. Some of these e-cyclers RESELL the equipment where it ends up on eBay or in third-world countries!
Upcoming Electronics Recycling Events in Kansas City

The Mid-Continent Library has partnered with Surplus Exchange to provide FREE electronics recycling for folks in the Kansas City area. Here are the dates and locations:

Smithville Branch - April 17, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
120 Richardson Street, Smithville, MO

Parkville Branch - April 24, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
8815 Tom Watson Parkway, Parkville, MO

Liberty Branch - May 8, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
1000 Kent Street, Liberty, MO


Alex M said...

Aside from traditional recycling, you can see if there's a scrap yard in your area. I went to the scrap yard with an old photocopier and got paid $24 for it! It was soooo much fun to dump it into the heap.

I can't wait to go back with some other big stuff we have (a washing machine, dryer and fridge).

The copper in many power cords could net you a couple of bucks at the scrap yard.

Alex M said...

btw, as for hard drives, you can always damage them to protect old data. It's easy to open the case and pull them out. Then unscrew the case and inflict your pent up frustrations, drop it out of a window, hold a magnet to it, submerge it in a bucket. Recycle it at a later time at a different location. Considering the damage and the old version of the operating system, it likely won't be worth it to try to salvage the data and anyone thinking to will move on to another discarded drive.

Jamie @ I Am A Money Magnet said...

Great post! We have some old dvd players that have been sitting in closet because I had no idea what to do with them. Thanks for the information! You should come over and link your post to Thirfty Tip Tuesday!

ThriftyPuppy said...

Oh, all good info, Alex! I've used a drill to drill holes in my old hard drives also before I've recycled the computers. Some of the e-cyclers refurbish the equipment and give them to schools\churches, etc. (Which is another great way to get rid of the computer equipment if it still works.)

And I just thought of another one. One of my employees has been known to shoot holes in hard drives for target practice. I guess that's just another way to work out those frustrations!

ThriftyPuppy said...

Thanks for the reminder, Jamie. I saw your post earlier this morning and didn't even think about it. Duh!

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