Considering an upgrade? The truth about your device's afterlife.

Rather than purchase a new one, I've kept this same computer since 2006.

Rather than purchase a new one, I've kept this same computer since 2006.

Did you know that Worldwide e-waste is expected to reach 65.5 million metric tons by 2017? It's the fastest growing type of municipal waste. Sadly, not all of those products are set to be recycled or reused. However, some are hoping to change that effort, and it's an imperative one. 

earth911.com hosted a Twitter chat today about computer recycling to bring awareness to the issue in honor of America Recycles Day. I learned something new by participating in the discussion, and I'd like to share it with you so you can make informed decisions about how to properly dispose of your old computer and other electronics when you decide to upgrade.

Do you really need an upgrade?

Before that, I implore you to ask yourself, do you really need a new computer? Is there anything wrong with the one you have or are you considering an upgrade simply because you want something "new"? Would upgrading your operating system (if available) suffice for your desire for something "new"? New isn't always better. New (when it comes to electronics) tends to generate more waste and encourages manufacturers to continue building devices with shorter life cycles. A small act like choosing to use your computer (or cell phone) for a few extra years, and sacrifice the impulse to have the latest greatest gadget, saves you money and ultimately contributes toward preserving our planet.  

If you're set up on an upgrade, be aware.

Many of the metals used in computers and other electronics are toxic. Improper disposal of these items can lead to contamination of our water sources. Such toxicity damages the kidneys, nervous system, and blood stream. Not to mention the all around negative impact to the earth because of the immense amount of resources required to manufacture these products. Some of which could be preserved by recycling your electronics or just choosing to use them a little longer. 

Recycle it 

Both Goodwill and Dell have resources for recycling your old computer. They have been working together for ten years to build free, easy and convenient computer recycling programs, according to Beth Johnson, Manager of U.S. Recycling Programs at Dell. Between the both of them they have responsibly recycled 324+ million pounds of electronics, states Lauren Lawson-Zilai, the Director of PR at Goodwill International. 

Goodwill accepts any computer model across 2000 locations in 44 states

Computer donations are tax deductible at Goodwill, so it's a win-win.

Your donation of a working computer generates 6.8 hours of job training. Many donations are refurbished and resold to those who can't afford to buy a brand new one. "Refurbished tech is generally 25% lower than retail prices," shares Sr. Program Manager, Global Recycling Marketing at Dell, Sarah Gilliam. Anyone can buy a refurbished machine so it's also something to consider for your tech craving.

Before you donate

Be sure to back up your data from your computer, and then wipe your hard drive to ensure your personal information is not passed on to the next recipient. 

How to Remove Data from Electronics before Recycling

Count it 

Once you've recycled your old computer or other electronic devices, share it with your networks. Many people don't understand the risks to our planet for improper disposal of electronics, but awareness is half the battle. Help spread the world about recycling tech. #SmallActsCount