The next time you want to upgrade to a new computer, don’t dump the old one. In 2005, an estimated 130,000 computers were discarded every day, says Roxanne Smith of the Environmental Protection Agency. With this in mind, more companies and organizations are making it easier for you to recycle your PC. Refurbishers will take computers that are less than five years old, make sure they are in working order and then donate them to a school or nonprofit (to find a refurbisher near you, go to techsoup.org or electronics recycling.com). Many manufacturers will recycle previously used computers, regardless of their age or origin, when you buy a new one from them, though you may have to pack and ship it yourself (some companies will pay for the cost). For details on specific manufacturers’ recycling programs, log on to www.computer takeback.com. Another option is Staples, the office-supply store, which will accept any computer, regardless of where it was purchased, for a $10 fee.
Before you get rid of your old machine, make sure it is cleaned of all personal information. Simply dumping it all into the “recycle bin” doesn’t ensure it’s gone. Overwrite everything on your hard drive with disk-cleaning software like the DataEraser ($29.95; ontrack.com). Otherwise you might regret your good deed.