Spring Cleaning: Recycle your Electronics

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 31, 2010
1,359
11,873
Midlife, Midwest
I've been doing some pre-Spring cleaning around my house. I figure its better to do some of these jobs before the weather gets nice, and I want to be outside.

A key to a clean, tidy, and organized house means periodically getting rid of things you don't need/want/use. And like too many technology buffs, I'd collected a few outdated computer components, including a could of bulky old CRT monitors that were simply taking up space in my closets.

Don't just put these in the trash or (worse) leave them by the curb. Its illegal to do this in many places.

Don't donate them to Salvation Army, GoodWill etc. These organizations get more of this sort of stuff than they can really handle.

Do make use of the many (free) recycling programs electronics retailers offer. Make sure the company you choose disposes of the e-waste in a responsible manner (ie. they don't simply ship it off to Bangladesh to be picked apart by orphans.)

Lastly, Don't make the mistake I did: Holding onto an obsolete and un-needed old monitor for several years simply because it had cost a lot of money when new. I never used it, and it simply took up limited space.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
64,182
30,758
Boston
I generally donate them to the salvation army. I get rid of them and receive a deduction for such an act. If they get too many to handle, then they can reject my donation which they never do. They ways accept my stuff :)

FWIW, most if not all the stuff they receive is turned around and sold in their thrift stores and helps fund their ministries, so I prefer seeing doing some good :)
 

eric/

Guest
Sep 19, 2011
1,691
12
Ohio, United States
I've got an old Android phone that broke, that I'd like to recycle. But I still have to get my pictures off of it somehow. And remove all my personal info.
 

east85

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2010
1,347
494
Before recycling old computers I always open them up, remove the hard drive, and physically destroy the disk.

Overkill? Probably. To me though it's not worth having my banking information and whatnot floating around out there. Recycling is definitely the way to go though, there's really no way around it unless you enjoy poisoning the environment. Laptops are especially toxic, given the inclusion of lithium ion batteries and mercury containing LEDs... among other things.
 

LatinGeek

macrumors newbie
Feb 18, 2012
20
0
Before recycling old computers I always open them up, remove the hard drive, and physically destroy the disk.

Overkill? Probably. To me though it's not worth having my banking information and whatnot floating around out there. Recycling is definitely the way to go though, there's really no way around it unless you enjoy poisoning the environment. Laptops are especially toxic, given the inclusion of lithium ion batteries and mercury containing LEDs... among other things.
Yeah, because it's a totally crazy idea to just format the thing or giving it an overwrite pass or two, right? Good job destroying perfectly good hardware.
 

east85

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2010
1,347
494
Yeah, because it's a totally crazy idea to just format the thing or giving it an overwrite pass or two, right? Good job destroying perfectly good hardware.
I know people who can access data even after a 35 pass erase.

Hell, even I can manage to access data after a single or double pass.

Granted, it's possible that it would happen, it's very unlikely. Maybe I should just make a bet on my personal information?

Worth it.
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 31, 2010
1,359
11,873
Midlife, Midwest
Interesting discussion on the "sensitive data" stuff.

I didn't dispose of a PC this time. But if I had, thats a pretty good reason to use the Best Buy electronics recycling program. Their website shows a guy removing a hard drive from a recycled PC and driving a steel pin through it, before it got sent off to the metal recycling facility.

I guess you've got to come to some sort of balance between your security risks; your personal convenience; and how you dispose of items.

I'd say that if you had very sensitive material on your PC: if you used it for your subcontracting gig with the CIA; etc. - then you ought to (at the very least) format the disk before you do anything.

But for most people? Its probably not worth it. A data-snoop would probably have to go through hundreds of discarded PCs before they found anything worthwhile. I don't think I'd want some stranger reading my personal e-mails, etc. - but I don't think that many random strangers would be motivated enough to bother trying to extract them.

Lastly, I think the idea of using a commercial recycling service rather than donating an old PC makes even more sense if you are concerned about security or privacy. A hard drive that gets physically destroyed before being smelted down is one thing. A curious teenager getting ahold of a $50 PC he picked up in a thrift store is something else entirely.
 

calderone

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2009
3,679
83
Seattle
I generally donate them to the salvation army. I get rid of them and receive a deduction for such an act. If they get too many to handle, then they can reject my donation which they never do. They ways accept my stuff :)

FWIW, most if not all the stuff they receive is turned around and sold in their thrift stores and helps fund their ministries, so I prefer seeing doing some good :)
I honestly had no idea there was a religious component to the Salvation Army. Thanks for that, I will cease my donations.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
33,372
22,962
Behind the Lens, UK
I gave my last PC to my daughters school. I removed the hard drive (because of the personal data) but the IT guy had another one. As most PC's at her school still use crapy CRT's it was probably one of the better machines there. When I get my new iMac I will possibly do the same, although I might still need the screen for another project.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
64,182
30,758
Boston
I honestly had no idea there was a religious component to the Salvation Army. Thanks for that, I will cease my donations.
If you consider disaster support religious then by all means, no offense but how could you not consider them religious organization with the name like salvation army :rolleyes:

They do a lot good stuff helping those out who cannot help themselves, Its a worthy cause, but if choose not too, that's your right - its your money
 

flopticalcube

macrumors G4
If you consider disaster support religious then by all means, no offense but how could you not consider them religious organization with the name like salvation army :rolleyes:

They do a lot good stuff helping those out who cannot help themselves, Its a worthy cause, but if choose not too, that's your right - its your money
I'd agree with these sentiments. Even though I am not a religious person myself, they are one of the few refuges for the poor and addicted in rural communities. Our local one no longer takes CRTs, however.
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,539
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
Before recycling old computers I always open them up, remove the hard drive, and physically destroy the disk.

.....
Yeah, because it's a totally crazy idea to just format the thing or giving it an overwrite pass or two, right? Good job destroying perfectly good hardware.
But not as satisfying taking a big hammer to it. In my case, it would probably take more time to get my computer booted up in order to format than to just whack the heck out of the HDD.
 

calderone

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2009
3,679
83
Seattle
If you consider disaster support religious then by all means, no offense but how could you not consider them religious organization with the name like salvation army :rolleyes:

They do a lot good stuff helping those out who cannot help themselves, Its a worthy cause, but if choose not too, that's your right - its your money
I love the rolleyes, way to be classy. It made sense once I knew there was a religious component, I hadn't previously thought about it to be honest. Last time I checked, salvation had a meaning outside of religion.

Sure they do good stuff, but you can do good stuff while not spreading your propaganda as well.

I'd agree with these sentiments. Even though I am not a religious person myself, they are one of the few refuges for the poor and addicted in rural communities. Our local one no longer takes CRTs, however.
 

Tinyluph

macrumors regular
Dec 27, 2011
193
0
I know people who can access data even after a 35 pass erase.

Hell, even I can manage to access data after a single or double pass.

Granted, it's possible that it would happen, it's very unlikely. Maybe I should just make a bet on my personal information?

Worth it.
That's a little more than just betting on personal information, I'd say.
 

Jessica Lares

macrumors G3
Oct 31, 2009
9,209
726
Near Dallas, Texas, USA
I don't donate my electronics simply because there are more better and important things I could give away like clothes, shoes, and food. Those people don't NEED flat screen TVs when they can't afford cable, they don't NEED a XBOX360/Wii if they can't afford the games that play on them, and they certainly don't NEED our old Apple products.

Donating to schools as mentioned is a much better idea. There are so many that ask for upgrades every year but always get denied and are forced to keep their 5-10 year old hardware.

And yes, most places do just destroy hard drives. When they gave me the G5, they just threw out the hard drives and gave me brand spanking new ones that equaled 300GB. The machine is better off with them as the old ones were in there for 7+ years.