When trashing, recycling or donating printers, be aware that you may be giving up more than just the device. Many printers today come with memory, processing power and network access. Unscrupulous people can use modern printers to find critical information about your network and file systems.
Fall clean-up: getting rid of ‘e-waste’
If you’re like most people, in the past few years you’ve replaced at least one computer for a newer model, purchased a new printer and changed your old cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitor to a new liquid crystal display (LCD). It seems like some new technological wonder is invented everyday! Trying to keep up can be maddening, and when you do buy new equipment there is an added problem: What do you do with the old stuff?
There are several options available when disposing of old computer equipment. Of course, you could simply throw them out, but according to a 1998 study by the National Safety Council about 20 million computers became obsolete in one year. In 2007, the EPA revisited that study and found that the number had nearly doubled!
With so much technological waste being produced, people have begun to look at ways to recycle used computer equipment.
One option is to resell your used computer. Many people hesitate to simply give away what they consider something of value. Sites such as www.craigslist.org are full of examples of people selling off old equipment.
But, beware! When you sell your old computer, you are also selling any data you left on it. If you go this route, it’s best to either remove the internal hard drive and destroy it, or erase the drive. There are several ways to accomplish this, but it may be best to contact a computer professional to ensure that your data is safe. (For a list of sites to visit to obtain software that you can use to wipe the data from your drive, visit www.icl.coop and search this month’s issue for the current Powered Up article.)
Another way to dispose of old computer equipment is to donate it. There are many organizations that specialize in recycling equipment. Call first to be sure they would take yours.
In general, if you are replacing a computer that is less than five years old, donating is the best route. Keep in mind that you still need to take steps to remove all of your personal information from the computer. While most reputable recyclers will try to remove sensitive information, they usually carry disclaimers against liability.
For a list of tips to use when donating your computer visit www.techsoup.org. They have partnered with Microsoft and other organizations to help people properly donate computer equipment.
In an effort to combat the amount of “e-waste” being produced, the EPA has set up a site dedicated to educating consumers on the proper way to dispose of old technology. You can find the site by visiting www.epa.gov and searching for “e-cycling.” One of the most useful parts of the EPA’s site is their page of links to places to donate old computer and electronic products.