Wednesday, 25 August 2010

For re-use, one laptop, several careless owners, zero to internet in 32 minutes.

So, am casually browsing my favourite ethical based quiz website when I stumbled across this quiz.

Not only did I get a shameful 40%, but it is actually quite relevant for my next ethical concern.
As some of you may have noticed (OK, so only my sister noticed), I have not written anything for the blog for a long time. Partly due to business at work, partly due to laziness and partly due to my laptop slowly dying a death.
It is still clinging on to life, but only just. It takes forever to load a webpage. It hates having more than one thing open at once (so writing and researching at same time is hard) and it has almost all but given up on itunes. I no longer have the time or patience to deal with this. So, it’s time for a new laptop.
Whilst there is no doubt a lot written about the most ethical and unethical laptops on the market, there is the more pressing problem of how to get rid of the existing one.

As the green planet quiz highlights, e-waste is becoming an increasing problem around the world. Half a million PC’s are disposed of globally every day! That’s a lot. See this BBC page for a detailed breakdown of e-waste.
In the past, a lot of our e-waste was exported overseas to developing countries. Now, this was not in 'a great second hand pass things on scheme'. This was more of a 'get rid of our waste and let someone else deal with the unpleasantness'. And by unpleasantness we mean the toxic heavy metals and hazardous chemicals that cause horrible health problems for the staff at the recycling plants. And by staff, they often mean children. Not good.
Sensibly, this practice was banned in the 1990’s. However, only this month, a report from the BBC highlighted that Europe is not only breaking this ban, but the illicit trade is flourishing. Really not good.
So how do I responsibly get rid of my laptop and know that it is not going to end up breaking this ban anyway? (please note at this point, for no reason whatsoever, there was a sudden loss of internet connection. Laptop clearly proving a point):
Option 1:
Now, I could probably just leave it outside my door, as seems to be the latest trend in London. However, I would worry that it would get soaked before anyone would get the chance to liberate it. That, and anyone who wants it would not have the appropriate transport and lifting equipment required to take the darn thing (it was clearly built before the obsession about skinny equipment)
Option 2:
Freecycle it – never done this myself but have friends that are obsessed with freecycling. The problem is, will anyone want it. It does work, it is just painfully slow. Alternatively, I could donate it to a charity shop. Might be a bit less effort than freecycle.
Option 3 – donate it to charity. This charity takes old IT products and gives them out to projects round the world, for people to use. As my laptop is 473 years old, I am not sure they would appreciate it. However, I thought this was a nice charity that deserved a mention.
I think the best option for me will be the freecycle/charity shop option. Even though it’s on its last legs, it does work. And am sure someone with less needs and more patience could make use out of it. That or they could rip it apart and take the bits they want. I will just have to put a disclaimer on that they get rid of the rest of it responsibly.
Unless any blog readers would like it? Drop me a line if you do!
my current laptop


  1. What a great project this is! I've been reading your site for a couple of weeks now and have really enjoyed it. I've been wondering about this computer dilemna, too. Donating old computers is a catch 22. One, if I don't want it then what makes me think anybody else is going to want it? Two, if I give it away how I do know those people are going to dispose of it responsibly when they get rid of it? I came to two conclusions myself. If I don't strip the thing down to bare bones and reuse the parts that I can then giving it away is still the best option. I wipe the hard drive several times. Then leave one read-me file on the desktop that politely asks the next user to dispose of this in a responsible manner. I include the following links: and in hopes they'll follow it and do the right thing. If my computer isn't donatable, then I find a recyclin center authorized by one of the above folk and do it myself. Hope this helps and I look forward to the future reading. Cheers!

  2. gavin thats really great. thank you so much for your comments. I love the idea of living a file asking people to dispose of it responsibly. Agree giving it away is probably best option. as soon as i have a new one, i am going to try and freecycle it.

    thanks again