The Best Ways to Recycle Old Computers

It wasn’t too long ago that I found myself with an outdated computer on my hands. We didn’t have trash service at that time. Because, we really didn’t need it. I recycled most of the refuse that our house created. When my brother offered to throw my computer out with his trash, I almost took him up on his offer. It would have been an easy remedy for my problem. However, I couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of one more computer being added to America’s already-overflowing landfill. In fact, many states have already adopted laws that ban the disposal of computers in this manner. Not only do computers take up landfill space, but they also contain cadmium, lead, mercury, and other toxic
chemicals. Once these chemicals leak into the soil, they can taint the area’s water supply.

So, what’s a person to do with old computers they no longer want or need?

By doing some research, I unearthed several possibilities. The right answer depends on the time and effort you want to put into the disposal of your computer. It also depends on the condition of your machine. That is, if it works or not. And, of course, some people will have access to local organizations that
others do not have. Which leads me to suggest an international organization that has an outlet in my area, The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army accepts all kinds of good used items, including electronic equipment, as long as they are in working condition. The items are then resold in their stores. The profits are not only used to maintain their stores, but it is also used to aid community service programs locally and afar. For example, The Salvation Army has helped more than a quarter of a million people in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka get back on their feet after a devastating tsunami hit them in December of 2004.

If you donate your old computer to the Salvation Army, you’ll not only be helping others, but you can also help yourself in the process. Donations are tax-deductible. Check with your tax preparer for details.

To find the location of a local drop-off center, check your phone directory. Or, visit their website at

Computers for Schools is another non-profit organization I found that accepts donations of Pentium and Macintosh computers. The computers are refurbished and distributed to needy schools across the United States. To find out if Computers for Schools accepts the type of computer you have, call them at 1-800-939-6000. Or, log onto their web site at Not only can you receive a tax-deduction when you recycle your machine this way, but your donation will help the youth of America receive a better education through technology too.

The National Cristina Foundation (NCF) accepts good used computers as well. This organization was started by D. Bruce McMahan, Ph.D., and Yvette Marin, Ph.D. The idea for NCF germinated when Dr. McMahan donated a computer to his daughter’s school class. Cristina McMahan is enrolled in a special education class because she has cerebral palsy. This disease impairs a person’s motor and learning skills. However, the donation of the computer by Dr. McMahan helped Cristina and her classmates to such a degree, that Doctors McMahan and Marrin decided to
help other challenged people as well.

The foundation keeps an updated database of pre-qualified, charitable organizations. These organizations are able to use certain types of computers
to enhance special learning and education. If you want to donate a computer to the NCF cause, you’ll need to phone them toll free at 1-800-CRISTINA (1-800-274-7846). Or, you can call them at (203)967-8000. You can also contact the organization by sending a FAX to (203)406-9725. Or, visit their web site at

When you contact NCF, they’ll search their database in order to match the computer you have with a charitable organization that can use it. Once a match is found, you can then recycle your machine by shipping it to them.

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