Tech-Friendly: Recycle the old electronics this holiday season

By Paul Gorski

The holiday shopping season is upon us, with many of us planning to spur the local economy by buying new electronic gadgets, including laptops, game consoles and smartphones. Don’t throw those old electronics away — recycle!

Old electronics contain hazardous components, and we don’t want that material in our landfills. Furthermore, it is against the law in Illinois to dispose of electronics in landfills, even more reason to re-purpose or recycle.

There’s always a market for lightly-used computers and cell phones, so you could place an ad here in The Rock River Times and sell your old hardware. Old computers can find new life by replacing Windows with the free Xubuntu operating system ( and installing free programs such as LibreOffice, which I reported about in “A free, reliable office productivity suite” (Oct. 24-30 issue).

If you’re feeling charitable, donate old tech to a worthy cause. According to, “Cell Phones for Soldiers is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active duty military members and veterans.” Sounds like a worthy cause to me.

Another worthy cause closer to home, Goodwill Industries has partnered with Dell computers ( to provide computer recycling at local Goodwill locations. Your donation will help Goodwill serve the community through its employment and training programs.

You could save your equipment for Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful’s (KNIB) May 4, 2013, metals and electronics recycling drive ( KNIB recycling drives are very well run, you’re in and out in minutes. The benefit: KNIB has helped recycle more than 2 million pounds of metals, appliances and electronics since its first metals drive. Thank you, KNIB.

If you can’t wait until May, you may drop off many old electronics at American TV, Best Buy and Office Depot. American TV and Best Buy offer free recycling options and Office Depot charges a small fee. Best Buy also offers trade-in opportunities for certain equipment. Call the store of your choice for recycling details before packing up the car with your old technology.

My personal preference is to use technology for as long as possible. Many natural resources — water, metals, energy and more — go into manufacturing every electronic device, but we consider some of these items “disposable.” That seems wasteful to me. If you want advice about how to extend the life of your technology, write me at

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments that he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the Nov. 14-20, 2012, issue

One thought on “Tech-Friendly: Recycle the old electronics this holiday season

  • Nov 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Good article, worth posting on my refrigerator for future reference!

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