Free hardware design has always had a close relationship with free-of-cost
use of electronics for community purposes (more about this in the History
section, when it gets written). Why throw away that Pentium 2 when
its perfectly usable? Below is a very incomplete list of groups involved
in reusing computer equipment. If you know of other groups in other
countries, let me know so I can add them to the list: reusing hardware
is something where physical location does make a difference!
What can people do with an old computer? One possibility is to run
Linux on it. The Tiny Linux Distribution
is aimed at doing just that - even running on an i386 with 8MB of RAM.
Or if the computer has no hard drive, make it into a diskless linux workstation.
Note: This page used to talk about 'recycling' rather than 'reusing' computers. Then I received an email from James Phillips which made me think again:
What concerns me
is a message coming through the media lately that computers are
recyclable. In the past, 'computer recycling' usually meant the
refurbishing of old computers. Now, I see the term applied in the
industrial sense. Consumers are being given the impression that computers
can be recycled like pop-bottles. Even worse, some people disposing of old
computers are under the impression that they will be reused. As a
consequence, disposing of working, toxic waste becomes 'Okay.'
The purpose of this letter is to ask you to refrain from referring to
computer reuse or refurbishing as 'recycling.' I will believe real
computer recycling when I see it!
.. which sounds reasonable enough to me, so that's what I've done.
Postscript: since writing the above, I've heard from one genuine company which does real recycling as well as making available computers for free reuse, CRT Recycling Inc, in New England and California.
For an excellent (very long) discussion of this general topic, stuffed full of useful links, see the essay A better upgrade, not a faster throw-away by Amos Batto.
I've also been pointed to a Canadian-oriented article on computer 'recycling' by Ifny Lachance.
- In many parts of the world Freecycle is an excellent way to get reuse of old equipment bypassing any middlemen. Of course the equipment won't get refurbished..
- World Computer Exchange is a global nonprofit organization committed to helping the world's poorest youth. WCE does this by keeping donated PCs, Macs, and Laptops out of landfills and giving them new life connecting youth to the Internet in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- Communities Linking Computer Knowledge (CLiCK) is a community project which helps students, people who can not afford computers, and non-profit organisations obtain computers free of charge.
- Victoria ComputerBank reuse donated computers with quality free software and distribute them to disadvantaged individuals and community groups. The system is customised to run efficiently on older hardware.
- GreenPC: reuse, refurbish old PCs and distribute them to Community organisations and people on low incomes in Australia.
Verein zur Unterstutzung von Menschen (Kabelwerke, 1120 Wien, Oswaldgasse 33) collect computers and install them in a way that they are usable in
African villages and cities. We also help in the transport and we do the
trainings of the trainers there. We already had a project in Togo and one
in Benin. This year we bring an "Email Based Postoffice" to Bamenda in
Cameroon. Contact Michael Muehlberger (email@example.com)
- ERA collects computers, laptops, and electronics for donation and recycling. Once items come to the ERA warehouses they are tested and sorted by age and quality. Reuable items are refurbished, donated or resold. End-of-Life items are recycled with government approved recyclers in Canada.
- Computers for Schools is a federal program with partners in each Canadian province. Donated computers are distributed to schools, libraries and registered not-for-profit learning organizations.
- Free Geek Vancouver have a number of volunteer programs revolving around re-use, dismantling and education. Free Geek facilitate re-use, skill sharing, free and open source, while pushing for more transparency in both the reycling/IT industries
- Paris, Nancy, Toulouse, et Briancon
- Co-ordinateur s'applique à récupérer, revaloriser et redistribuer du matériel informatique. Leur buts sont multiples : contribuer à réduire les inégalités Nord-Sud tout en revalorisant le matériel trop rapidement jeté ou détruit.
- Reuse-computer: Das Verbundprojekt Computer ReUse, gefÃ¶rdert vom Bundesministerium fÃ¼r Bildung und Forschung erprobt zu diesem Zweck eine neue Form der Zusammenarbeit: In einem Netzwerk werden die erforderlichen Dienstleistungen fÃ¼r eine professionelle Vermarktung von Gebraucht-EDV in Verbindung mit dem dafÃ¼r erforderlichen Service erbracht.
- SejutaKomputer are a group set up to discuss ways to find a million computers to give away in Indonesia. They need help to get started; join them.
- I've been told JCA-Net may do something similar - but I can't read Japanese (the English pages are
incomplete). Can anyone confirm this?
- O Entre Douro e Vouga Digital tem um projecto, chamado EDV Solidario, que pretende requalificar computadores antigos, instalar software livre, e doa-los a entidades carenciados.
- El objectivo principal de Teso ("Telecomunicaciones Solidarias") es hacer que los avances en el mundo de las telecomunicaciones, lleguen al mayor número de ciudadanos, en especial a aquellos que forman parte de colectivos con falta de recursos.
- Gerne nehmen wir Ihre gebrauchten Computer oder Computerteile entgegen, ob alt oder kaputt, spielt keine Rolle, wir können fast immer zumindest noch einzelne Bestandteile wieder sinnvoll weiterverwenden.
- A far more complete National list of organisations refurbishing computers for reuse
- CRISP, A south London based organisation which aims to realise the environmental benefits of sustainable development and the minimisation of the waste of resources and generate income and support for local community projects and organisations. CRISP reuse furniture, mobile phones, and computers.
- Computer Aid International: a registered charity based in North London which exists to recycle computer technology to
- Jamie's Computer Club is a learning and training project run by Southampton homelessness charity, The Society of St James. The club provides both on-the-job training opportunities in computer refurbishing, and more structured learning in the use of computers and the Internet.
- The REI is a network of computer refurbishment schemes across Yorkshire, who donate or sell on at cost the computers to community groups, charities, low income people etc.
Many US organizations have more complete lists than the one here: you could
try TechSoup or recycles.org,
- ACCRC: We work hard so that local schools are offered our Linux based computers running a minimum Pentium 133 processor and 1 GB of hard drive space. We don't stop in Oakland. We have computers functioning on every continent on Earth, including Antarctica.
- Yellow Network Coalition's mission is to recycle/reuse computer hardware; promote Open Source Software; and provide free access to the Internet. We provide the environment and tools that allow people and organizations share the wealth.
- ReBoot is a nonprofit, statewide, collaborative effort of many groups and organizations committed to recycling computers. We are dedicated to actively promoting independence for people with disabilities through our efforts.
- New York
- TecLogicNY: We have started a web site that offers free PC's for kids. This started out as a hobby building and repairing used PC's for friends, and family, and collecting old PC's to rebuild. To allow us to continue this hobby, we offer services at
little to no cost to people who can afford it. However, we
do tend to not charge if it is someone with a big family or
who are not financially secure.
- Raymond, Ohio
- Student Pc's repair and recondition used computers along with Build new systems as needed for the handicapped children of the Continental USA.
- St. Louis, Missouri
- ByteWorks, a computer recycling and training project taken on by the Missouri chapter of Tech Corp.
- WITS is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to students of all ages. We recycle/refurbish donated systems from local organizations and companies, by fixing or replace what may be broken and putting it back into the community for educational use.
- Eugene, Oregon
- Portland, Oregon
- Free Geek: a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that recycles used technology and provides computers, education and access to the internet in exchange for community service.
- Dallas, Texas
28 October 2002-2005.