Upcycle: Trashing your tech treasures

March 23, 2018

Technology seems to become obsolete faster every day, but what do we do with our old devices?


After over a decade and a half working in the IT industry, and much longer being a geek, I’ve accumulated a lot of gadgets. Recently I decided it was time to have a clear-out and get rid of some of the dusty computers and parts cluttering up my house, but discovered that it wasn’t quite as simple as throwing them in the bin.

There’s a number of factors that make technological waste (also known as e-waste), a challenge to dispose of. The components contain a number of hazardous chemicals and elements, becoming an increasing environmental and health hazard.

Privacy concerns are also a problem. With our personal data, from bank accounts to contact details, stored on devices in multiple locations there could be serious implications if they were to fall into the wrong hands.

Technology has become such a integral part of our day-to-day life that it’s not just geeks like me who have to deal with this challenge, so what can we do to make disposing of old tech easier? Here’s a few simple steps to help:


1. Protect your data
The first step should always be erasing any personal data that might be left on devices. Most tablets and smartphones have an option to reset to factory settings, while the majority of computers come with system restore disks that take you through a similar process.

While these steps are generally adequate for normal purposes and prevent casual data theft, they aren’t 100% proof against more advanced data retrieval methods, so if you require a higher level of security you should consult an expert.


2. Out of fashion isn’t obsolete

The technology market is built on feeding our need to have the latest and most cutting-edge products. But older products can still be more than adequate for our needs. 

If a device still has some life in it, see if family or friends might be able to use it. A computer doesn’t need to be able to run the latest games to use for homework, and a smartphone doesn’t need the latest camera if someone just needs to make phone calls. What doesn’t suit your needs any more might be perfect for someone else’s.


3. Charity starts at the home office
There are a number of charities that will take your old technology off your hands and refurbish or repair them before giving them to those in need. Find out what local groups there are in your area and you can make a big difference in someone’s life—and clear your clutter at the same time.


4. Dispose responsibly
If you do need to throw devices out, do so responsibility. Dumping them in normal bins or landfill can lead to toxic chemicals ending up in the environment.

Call, or visit your local council’s website, to find out their requirements for getting rid of e-waste. Many councils provide a drop-off point for recycling free of charge.


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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