Zero-Waste Computer Recycling Solutions for Minnesota
While the latest personal computers offer huge increases in performance and power, not every situation needs the most powerful hardware. Before taking working computers out of service in your home or business, think about the possibility of re-purposing them and keeping them in use. There are several ways to avoid destructive recycling of working PCs. Any of them could save you the expense of recycling and purchasing new hardware and extend the working life of your hardware.
- Upgrade Current Hardware – Particularly for home users, upgrading a slow older PC can be a good option. Increasing its memory, installing a larger hard drive, optimizing existing hard drives, getting rid of adware and spyware, and deleting unused software can give new life to old PCs, at a fraction of the cost of replacement.
- Re-purpose Existing Business Computers – In business settings, not all operations require the latest, greatest hardware. A plan to shift PCs from one area to another, where even older PCs may be in service, can cut the costs of buying new hardware on a business-wide basis. Replace only the PCs in critical areas, and update non-critical areas, using the PCs you are replacing. Older PCs can also function as printer servers or network data storage systems. Cost savings can be significant.
- Donate Functional Hardware – Businesses should investigate the possibility of donating working, but unneeded computers and peripherals to charitable organizations that can put them to good use. Home users may find that their older desktop and laptop PCs can find good homes with friends and relatives who cannot afford PCs or updates to their old one. Computers With Causes (www.computerswithcauses.org), is one organization that accepts donated computers, then donates them to others, creating a zero-waste recycling solution. Locally, the Minneapolis Public Schools (www.mpls.k12.mn.us/Donating_to_the_district.html) and Minnesota Computers for Schools (www.mncfs.org) also coordinate computer donations, using donations in the schools and distributing PCs to needy students and their families.
- Consider Using Obsolete PCs for Distributed Computing Projects – In recent years, networks of tens of thousands of personal computers have been linked together, using broadband internet connections, creating huge supercomputers, capable of handling enormous calculations and scientific investigations. Projects as difficult as searching for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe (SETI) and solving very difficult genetic calculations (Protein Folding) are going on, using distributed computing. While these projects are designed to use just the unused CPU cycles of the linked PCs, even more power can be harnessed by using the full power of otherwise unused PCs in homes and businesses