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Computer Donation = Computer Dumping

Most of us have heard of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These are practically the commandments of environmentalism. They are meant to go in that order, leaving recycling as a last resort after reducing and reusing. But with computers and electronics, apparent reuse through donations does not guarantee proper recycling.

Often when computers are donated, with good intentions to maximize their use, there is a bad end result – the computer is eventually dumped.

People want to donate used computers to those who are less fortunate, to those who cannot afford to buy new equipment. When generous individuals get a new computer, let’s say for the holidays, they may still think highly of their old computer and see it as a valuable item for someone in need. After all, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” For a long time, I had felt the same way. What happens when that donation finally goes caput?

Let’s think about this logically. To properly recycle electronics and ensure that toxic components do not end up contaminating the environment here or abroad, it does cost money. This is hazardous material here.

Do we expect that computer donations will be recycled the right way? Or does an image of monitors, keyboards and desktop units piled high on a sidewalk come into your head?

The reality is that these items are not built to last, and many times donating them is just transferring the burden of disposal on to a needy individual or school that does not have the resources for proper recycling.

If you are trying to do right by the community and our environment, would it be more responsible to make sure these toxic items that are of limited use are not ending up in our drinking water or the air we breathe?

Let’s keep lead, mercury, and cadmium out of our landfills and make sure that computers are recycled properly!
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