Last week, I wrote about my dilemma as to whether or not to retain my old technical notes or to recycle them. After this my loft-and-garage-cleansing-clear-out continued but, even after recycling everything that could be considered household waste (apparently the bin men were a little surprised by the huge stack of recycling sacks at the end of our drive yesterday), I was left with a pile of old computers, 802.11b wireless LAN kit, network cards/modems, a broken UPS and a broken lawnmower.
The thing is that all this stuff must have some value to someone and to let it end up as landfill (or, even worse, being recycled in an exploitative manner) was just wrong. After a lot of googling, I discovered that my computers were too old even for charities (the Donate a PC service has published some general advice) and that the WEEE regulations have massively limited the options for disposal of such equipment; however, I did find a list of UK computer recyclers and refurbishers courtesy of Waste Online. Then, I discovered Freecycle.
Built around the Yahoo! Groups system, Freecycle is a place to give or receive what you have and don’t need or what you need and don’t have – a free cycle of giving which keeps stuff out of landfills (note that it is not intended as a place to just go get free stuff for nothing). I joined my local group (in order to do that, I needed to register for a Yahoo! account) and offered my unwanted items. What amazed me is, once my post had been moderated, just how quickly I received a stack of responses for equipment which I considered to be junk. Of course, I’d been a bit stupid and hadn’t realised that those responses were going to a new Yahoo! Mail account that had been set up for me (doh!) but once I sussed that, I was able to arrange collection/delivery and feel that I’d helped someone at the same time as doing a little bit to preserve the environment (of course, cutting down on the original production of waste would be far more effective).
It is often said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I was only to pleased to let my old kit go to someone who could make good use of it. Next time you want to get rid of something that won’t sell on eBay (or are feeling benevolent enough to just give it away instead of selling it), check out your local Freecycle network.