Blog Action Day – 2007

in Blogging, General, Technology by

Blog Action Day – 2007 is about the environment and I decided to concentrate our post on the impact that discarded electronics have on landfills.

Each year, millions of computers are dumped into landfills in the US alone. The Environmental Protection Agency tells us that the number is between 50 million and 75 million (link opens in PDF). In addition, many of these computers still work although a little slowly perhaps.

While this is great news for computer sellers and manufacturers, this is terrible news for the environment.

Don’t get me wrong, hardware has to be upgraded periodically. It is the nature of the beast. Manufacturers built in what is called “planned obsolescence” and that means users have to upgrade their hardware every few years. But it does not mean that they have to simply discard the old stuff by throwing it in the trash. There are plenty of better options that will have a much smaller impact on the environment and will possibly even help out some less-fortunate.

Donate That Old Computer
Find a company that will refurbish your old computer. Maybe you can’t use if for your business any longer, but what about a non-profit or a school? Rarely will they turn down a freebie and you may be eligible for a tax deduction. Search for “computer recycling” in Google and you will get millions of options.

Erase That Sensitive Data First
Of course, before you donate that old computer you better make sure all the sensitive data is removed. Actually, this is probably the number one reason that businesses don’t donate. They don’t feel confident that their data is really gone.

Very valid concern. Before you donate, make sure your data is removed. Read up on the HIPAA information regarding proper deletion of sensitive data. Check out some of the software that has been designed to comply with those regulations. Here is a list that I found on the University of Auburn’s web site. It is a little outdated, but will give you a good starting point. If you want to jump into some Freeware / Shareware written to wipe your data, Free Downloads has a pretty good list although I have never personally tried any of the programs listed.

If you don’t feel like going through all that on your own, why not look into hiring a company that will guarantee the removal of your sensitive data and share the profits with you after they salvage and resell what they can. R. Frazier, Inc. in Virginia, USA does just that.

The point is this: When you get a new computer, don’t throw your old one in the landfill. Wipe the data and then donate it or take it to a computer recycling facility.

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