Take a moment and think about that corner in your office, you know the one I’m talking about. Or maybe it’s in your basement, closet, attic, perhaps some other dark, dusty place in your home. You’ll try to ignore it, but how much more old technology is going to fit there? It’s overflowing, becoming a health hazard. Are you really ever going to use that enormous CRT monitor again? Come on, now.
Recently, I decided to tackle the corner; which is when I discovered Free Geek, a nonprofit organization that “refurbishes technology to provide computers, education and job skills in exchange for community service.”
Photo cred. top row:Joan Stevens, bottom row:Carly Dennis
Here’s the deal with FreeGeek, they’re a multi-pronged operation where you can:
- declutter. Drop off old electronics—computers and nearly anything that can be plugged into them.
- volunteer. Spend some time helping out Free Geek, and get sweet stuff in return. Volunteers get free classes on building computers, tech support, and using a computer. Volunteers who have racked up a total of 24 hours or have built five computers get a free refurbished computer loaded with Ubuntu, an open source operating system.
- donate. Non-profits in need of a technology upgrade can receive hardware grants. So far, the Portland location has granted out more than 2,800 refurbished PCs to schools, religious organizations, community centers, and the like.
- purchase tech on the cheap. Free Geek runs a thrift shop, with all purchases directly supporting the Free Geek Community Technology Center.
- recycle ancient tech. Outdated materials are “demanufactured” by volunteers and recycled responsibly.
Going through my corner-of-technological-shame, I came up with a full car trunk of old tech. Everything from a heavy, old-school e-mac to the coffee-pocalypse laptop, and the ever-present overflowing box of miscellaneous wires and plugs. All together, we’re talking 5 square feet of sanity returning to my little abode. Priceless.
Here in Portland, we’re lucky to have the original FreeGeek location, aka “the Mothership.” However, satellite locations are opening in urban areas around the country, and can be found at the Free Geek Intergalactic Page. Other certified e-recyclers can be found through e-stewards.org or your local government’s recycling website.
We’re all green here. We know not to dump old tech with our curbside garbage, or trust shady e-recycling programs. Appease the e-waste guilt. Recycle your electronics responsibly, if not creatively.