Chances are you’ll be replacing some tried-and-true piece of personal electronics with a newer, faster, better model. Whether it’s replacing an MP3 player with a new one, or replacing an old computer or laptop, what do you do with the old stuff? Hopefully you don’t just throw it away, especially if it still works!
FreeGeek in Portland, OR, founded in February 2000 and now duplicated around the country, accepts donations of old computers. Donated systems are cleaned up, loaded with GNU/Linux, and given for free to folks who volunteer there. I toured their facility a couple years ago, and was really impressed with the operation. Rather than just recycle last year’s electronics into next year’s, folks like FreeGeek put functional technology into the hands of people who can use it. The people who volunteer at FreeGeek aren’t (usually) interested in playing the latest games and don’t require cutting-edge hardware: they’re happy to get an opportunity to expand their technology skills and get access to the Internet from the comfort of their own homes. The Pentium4 CPUs considered “old” by today’s standards are perfectly adequate for folks just beginning their computing journey.
FreeGeek also offers a short list of e-waste recyclers around the world, so hopefully you can find some place close to you to accept a donation. Feel free to list other electronic re-use and recycling locations in the comments!
(Full disclosure: I was involved with the creation of FreeGeek Columbus, so this is a subject close to my heart.)