Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Recycle your old computers and help save the planet!

Ubuntu Linux 5.10 CDsImage by themactep via Flickr
Computers are everywhere, or so it seems! However, what happens to them when they are no longer wanted? Unfortunately, far too many end up being thrown away even when they have some useful life left in them. So, what are the alternatives?

1. Recycle them properly - new EU legislation requires computers and other electronic equipment to be recycled rather than going to landfill. See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/index_en.htm for more detailed info. Currently, despite the legislation,  only one third of electrical and electronic waste in the European Union is reported as appropriately treated and the other two thirds are going to landfills and potentially to sub-standard treatment sites in or outside the European Union.


2. Re-purpose your old pc - even old computers can find a useful second life as a file server, NAS or even media server (for all your iTunes libraries). You can find cheap (even free) options on the web. Check out http://www.clarkconnect.com and http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1395422  or http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Computer-Into-A-Server-in-10-Minutes-fr/


3. Give it away - many folk don't need a supercomputer, they just need something to check their email, browse the web and write the odd document. Your old pc may be perfectly adequate for such tasks so consider giving it away. Remember however, to securely wipe your hard disk first. To avoid licensing issues with Microsoft,you may want to install Linux(Ubuntu is a good option). Also, such a choice is better than giving away something that runs with Win 98. Its rather past it so even if MS would be unlikely to chase you, Ubuntu is a much better OS.


You may want to give away you old pc to a charity who will refurbish it and pass it on to a deserving cause in the developing world. Examples include http://www.donateapc.org.uk/ and http://www.computerswithcauses.org/


In summary, when it comes to getting a new pc remember that there is almost certainly life left in your old one and that its far greener to choose one of the options above than send it to landfill.
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