Recycle your old computer

Computer recyclingDumpstering an office full of computers can cause any number of problems. The equipment takes up a big chunk of landfill space and contains heavy metals that can contaminate soil and water. If someone dumpster-dives your old equipment, your confidential data could end up anywhere.

Recycling is a much better choice.

Here’s the problem: while many places accept old computers for free, including major manufacturers such as Dell and HP, they do not bother to erase your data. You’ve probably seen headlines in recent years about old government and corporate computers showing up on eBay with confidential data free for the taking. Fortunately, there are now services like that provide Department of Defense-standard data destruction prior to recycling the parts. There is a nominal fee, but when you compare this to the cost of equipment disposal and cleanup–or worse, the cost of exposed data–it’s well worth it.

If you’d prefer to tackle the data destruction on your own, there are software programs that “shred” your data. A simple file delete won’t do–anyone with a $20 software recovery program can restore your files in a matter of minutes. Programs like McAfee QuickCleanMcAfee QuickClean or CyberScrub’s cyberCide work behind the scenes to remove all trace of your confidential data from your hard drive.

After you’ve cleaned up the hard drive, you can donate your computer to local charities or schools, or find a needy organization online through the National Cristina Foundation. If you’re in the St. Louis area, check out a local organization, Web Innovations and Technology Services.


4 thoughts on “Recycle your old computer

  1. Another local (St. Louis) group that will take donated computers is Connections to Success ( They use equipment to train people how to re-enter the workforce after being homeless or incarcerated.

    Awesome post, Wendy. There is always someone out there who could use the help.

    – Jeremy

  2. Wendy,
    These recycling tips for old computers are great and definitely need to be shared even more publicly. Have you considered posting this article to the Suburban Journals? Here in North County/Florissant area, recycling is a hot topic/big contraversy right now with the trash district being divided up and monopolized, recycling fees, etc. It’s all for the better in the end, though.

    My point is St. Louis County Health only occassionally sponsors recycling dropoffs for all of the items that need to be recycled (batteries, computers, TVs, etc) but can NEVER go in the new full size recycle bins. People need to be aware of opportunities and locations to recycle computers & such all the time. Otherwise, most will take the easy way out and put it in the general trash to end up in the landfill because your garbage can & garbage man don’t say no! -Amy Michaelson

  3. Amy, thanks for the great comments! I agree, far too many people – and businesses – simply dump old technology in the trash. They either don’t know or don’t care, or the inconvenience is simply too great.

    The single biggest trash problem on the planet right now is technology waste. The only way to fight that will be education and easy access to recycling facilities.


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