There’s a certain disconnect in logic when the time comes to dispose of something around the house that we consider an object of permanence. Major appliances like TVs, refrigerators, stereos, and computers, appliances that we shelled out a decent amount of cash to get, we find ourselves understandably reluctant to put in the trash. We might first try to sell them at a garage sale, or maybe find someone who’s willing to shell out the dough to have it fixed instead of merely buying a new one; but when all of this fails we place it on top of all of our other trash, maybe with a note apologizing to the garbage man for any inconvenience. Somehow the level to which we are attached to this home fixture blinds us from the obvious solution when it comes to disposal—recycling.
Why people seem to gloss over things like computer recycling while they still retain the mental faculty to throw a glass jar in recycling is beyond me, but my guess would be that it has something to do with the complexity of the disposed item. One can plainly see, looking at a glass bottle, what it is composed of; glass. They also know that glass can be melted down and reformed into new glass commodities, so that goes in the recycling bin. A computer on the other hand is a fairly mysterious item to the general population; while computer literacy continues to soar to heights that I’m sure the early adopters punching lines of code into a green on black screen never dreamed of for the general public, many people still have no clue what’s going on beyond that glowing window.
The complex operations required for a computer to do its job properly require a vast array of materials chosen for their durability, flexibility, conductivity, and a vast host of other very particular physical characteristics. While people make the one-to-one connection of plastic→ recycling rather well, something as painstakingly put together as a computer simply does not strike them as something that could be transformed in the same fashion—and they’d be wrong. Just a short list of some of the components in the average home computer includes copper, gold, silicon, glass, and plastic; all recyclable. Perhaps some of the accountability for the lull in computer recycling is the consumer fear that donating non-recyclable materials slows down the process in general, and this is undoubtedly true; however, the wealth of resources residing inside the average PC more than makes up for this. Furthermore, disposing of a computer as one would dispose of their trash creates an environmental debacle, as many of the components in a computer are harmful to people and the environment if not disposed of properly. A recycling center is better equipped and more specialized than a landfill in seeing to it that these components are handled in the proper manner.
Computer recycling can save lots of resources, and the only thing stopping this from happening is that disconnect I mentioned earlier. If something lasted you a long time, and you’d rather give it away than see it in a landfill, think of the ever present third option—recycling.