What have you done to your old computer?

I got three old machines at home, old in a sense that they cannot be used to meet today’s computing demands. One is an HP laptop whose keyboard has run out of function, has no USB port and can only run on Windows 95/98. We stopped using it because of the dead keyboard.

Another is a refurbished (read: second-hand) Twinhead laptop–Pentium II with 256MB physical memory. The motherboard conked out after two years of using the notebook.

The last one is Intel Celeron desktop which I bought in 1999. It degenerated since then: Its mother board no longer recognizes pluggable devices such as Ethernet and USB cards. It is still alive, though. My family is using it for simple tasks as word processing and playing various games.

What do I have to do to these gadgets, particularly the dead ones? Offhand, I got two options: Discard them or have them repaired/almost replaced. The first sounds easy to do but the feeling of ‘loss’ dissuades me from doing it. The other option is, of course, costly.

I understand that PC users in the advanced countries don’t take it as a big problem as strong lobby and advocacy have pressured their governments to enforce PC recycling programs. But what about in the Philippines? Searching the Internet gave me the knowledge on how to proceed with disposing of my dead notebooks.

In general, an owner of old PCs should bear in mind the effect on the environment of old computers not-well-discarded of. While letting your digital stockpile linger on for years is hazardous, improper disposal is much more dangerous. Toxic e-wastes, with the lead, mercury, cadmium, and other hazardous materials, decrease the land’s productivity and pollute the waters. Think of this every step of the following ways:

  1. Look for a friend who’s privy about computer technology stuff. Seek opinion on what to do with the old machine. S/he must be knowledgeable on how to disassemble the computer into reusable parts: Monitor, hard disk, floppy drive, cdrom, physical memory, motherboard, etc. Plan with him/her on how to dispose of them through selling or donation. (Hey, jeepney drivers/operators may buy your CDROMs.)
  2. If you don’t know that person, locate a nearest customer sales office of the company that manufactured your computer. (Asking around and searching the Internet are your friends.) Call its attention and negotiate on the recycling terms. Most major PC vendors have PC recycling programs. Visit their web sites to find out.
  3. Or, locate a computer repair shop. Talk to the owner or manager. You must be convinced that the shop has a clear, environment-friendly ways of disposing of the non-usable stuff. If you are, then transact the sale of your old machine.

Anyway, before you dispose of your hard disks, make sure to reformat them if you don’t want your personal data to be revealed to others. The better if you give your buyers/recipients a brief education on the effects of toxic e-waste on the environment so that they, too, may be guided on how to dispose of the stuff when the time comes.

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