A little more than a year ago, I bought a new dream computer. My old one had just become increasingly unable to handle the demanding applications I used on a daily basis. OK, OK I'll admit it was the newer video games that it couldn't handle, but "applications" just sounds more like I'm actually doing something productive and work-like with my computer instead of pretending to be an elf-slaying digital goblin.
While clearing through my garage this week though, I wasn't surprised to find three other computer towers from rigs that got replaced when they, too, couldn't handle the latest elf fests. I also found an old VCR, a cassette player, a heavy and huge old-style TV and my old record player. I'll admit it - I've never been able to throw anything away. You just never know when you'll need that mismatched set of speakers that probably doesn't work, turntable or eighth grade paper about what I did over the summer vacation. I got a B- on that, in case you were wondering.
But as I began sorting through a lifetime's worth of accumulated junk, I realized I was also looking at a kind of museum of obsolete technology - an electric graveyard, if you will. OK, maybe that's a bit grand sounding for a bunch of possibly broken pieces of ancient electronic equipment - but who got the B- around here, anyway?
Unfortunately, the world of technology seems to just work that way right now. Any new electronic item on the market appears to only have a shelf life of one-and-a-half to three years before a newer, sleeker model renders it obsolete, and a candidate for my garage or closet. I'm sure you have similar pieces of obsolete tech as well, from old printers or even (gasp) typewriters, to portable CD players, walkmans, bulky televisions and 8-track decks. And the sad fact is most of the technology you have right now living cozy in your house will in a couple years be keeping the other stuff company in the garage or, sadder still, the landfill. Considering many of these devices (computers et al.) contain harmful and toxic chemicals, what to do with the ever-growing mountains of old technology is the question we really need to address.
Lots of places have legislated the disposal of old computers, and B.C. even offers a recycling program. You could also donate your old equipment to a school or charity, or if it's broken, there are organizations out there that do refurbish computers to donate to libraries and schools. Apple also has a program where it will take and get rid of your old Mac.
As long as I happen to find myself on this soapbox, I may as well say that smart recycling is just one aspect of dealing with this excess electronic junk syndrome. We've also got to shop smart, and get technology that is backward compatible with old models, or perhaps more easily upgradable. Maybe we could slow things down just a bit, too. That new dream computer I bought a little more than a year ago? It's now rated as just average in terms of power, and likely won't be able to keep me knee-deep in virtual goblin blood for more than another six months. I'd better start making room in the garage.