Ten Tips for Donating a Computer
How to donate or recycle your used equipmentYour old computer might have some life left in it. But dropping it off at your favorite nonprofit, charity, or library might not be the best way to pass it on. Learn about the environmentally smartest options in this article. As companies, nonprofits, charities, libraries, and individuals find reasons to upgrade their computers, the problem of how to safely discard used equipment continues to grow. There are many reasons to donate or recycle your used equipment:
- 75% of the fossil fuels and energy used by a computer are actually consumed during manufacturing. Extending the computer's lifespan through reuse means more return on that initial environmental cost.
- Every computer dumped into a landfill represents a missed opportunity to provide technology and tools to individuals and organizations across the digital divide.
- Even if a computer cannot be reused, recycling ensures that valuable raw materials are recovered from used computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally sound fashion.
1. Determine if Your Old Computer Can Be ReusedIf your computer is less than five years old, chances are it can be put to good use by someone else. Usually, the lifespan of a computer is seven to eight years. Extending the computer's lifespan through reuse provides the highest environmental benefit of all electronics disposal alternatives. Free computer disposal
2. Consider Donating Newer Equipment to a RefurbisherYou may be tempted to donate equipment directly to a favorite local school or charity. However, keep in mind that most organizations have very specific technology needs. A donated computer might not be a good fit. Refurbishers are better equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. They will ensure that equipment works well and runs legal software copies and that any e-waste is disposed of properly. They will pass on ready-to-use equipment to those who need it, often at little or no cost to the recipient. Refurbishers work with newer equipment that can run current software programs. Therefore, if your computer is more than five years old, it's better to send it to a recycler. Find refurbishers that accept donated IT equipment via the directory of Microsoft Registered Refurbishers. Most Microsoft Registered Refurbishers also accept Macintosh products. If you are planning a large donation of more than 50 computers, please consider donating to TechSoup's Refurbished Computer Initiative. E-waste recycling and electronics recycling
3. Recycle Older and Broken HardwareAny equipment that is not working or is more than five years old should go to end-of-life recycling, meaning responsible destruction. A computer recycler is a business or organization that salvages useful computer parts before breaking down what's left, safely removing hazardous materials in the process. Note that some recyclers will charge a fee to accept old computer equipment, especially monitors. For drop-off in your area, visit recycling center Excess Logic in Milpitas
4. Choose a Responsible RecyclerYou've probably seen or heard horror stories about dangerous and irresponsible electronics recycling. However, there are certification programs for recyclers that can help you feel good about the recycler you choose. Both the Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) and the e-Stewards® programs require recyclers to demonstrate that they meet specific standards for safe and responsible electronics recycling. They include environmental safety, worker health, and data security standards. You can learn more about certification programs at the EPA's Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers page. Responsible recycler in San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Fremont
5. Contact the Refurbisher or Recycler Before DonatingCall the organization or check its website to ensure that it accepts the type of computer you plan to give away. Some refurbishing organizations, for example, will refuse anything older than a Pentium III. Many recycling and refurbishing organizations also have specific locations where equipment can be donated, while others have delivery instructions they expect donors to follow.
6. Remember the Software, Documentation, and AccessoriesIf you can, include the keyboard, mouse, printer, modem, packaged software, and any other accessories you have used with the computer. They can almost always be utilized by schools, nonprofits, charities, and most organizations only accept complete systems. Also pass along the original disks, media, Certificate of Authenticity sticker, user manual, and other documentation that came with the equipment. Keeping the Certificate of Authenticity sticker (usually on the computer) intact is generally the most important thing to remember. This allows refurbishers to inexpensively re-license and reload Microsoft Windows and Office software on the donated machines. Electronics recycling San Jose
7. If You Clear Your Computer of Personal Information Yourself, Use Disk-Cleaning SoftwareThe best way to protect against any unauthorized use of personal information is to use a disk-cleaning tool that obliterates all data on the hard drive. "Personal information" includes your Internet browser's cache, cookies, history; your email contacts and messages; your documents; your recycle or trash folder; and all nontransferable software. Free wipe hard drive Milpitas, San Jose, learn how to erase hard drive Below are examples of recommended disk-cleaning utilities.
Commercial Windows Disk-Cleaning Software:
- Blancco Data Erasure Software
Free Windows Disk-Cleaning Software:
- Active@ Kill Disk Hard Drive Eraser
- Darik's Boot and Nuke
Macintosh Disk-Cleaning Software:
- Disk Utility (built-in in Mac OS X, under "Security Options")
- WipeDrive for Mac
8. Keep a List of What You Donated for Your RecordsRemember that tax season will always return — and you are likely eligible for a deduction if you donate to a nonprofit refurbisher or recycler. Most school or nonprofit refurbishers and recyclers can provide a tax receipt upon request. Business donors can deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer, and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. To determine the fair market value of a computer, use an evaluator tool like GadgetValue. Recycling San Jose
9. Find Additional Information on Electronics RecyclingFor more information on the urgent need to recycle discarded IT equipment properly, see the Electronics Takeback Coalition's overview of the problems created by computer dumping and the EPA's eCycling Frequently Asked Questions.
10. Find Additional Information on Refurbishing
- Visit TechSoup's Hardware Forum for more information on refurbishing or to post a question.
- If you are interested in donating your office computers, visit the RCI page.
- If you would like to donate your personal computer, visit our Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher page.
Author: Jim Lynch and Ariel Gilbert-Knight Permanent article address