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Making your electronics last

I've got a closet in my house that is an electronics graveyard.  Dead cell phones, laptops that didn't pay to repair, and 2 desktop computers circa 2000.  I didn't know how to properly dispose of these things, so I just stuck them into a closet where their only current purpose is catching dust.

Electronics are made to be so disposable these days, it seems.  We had a digital camera that broke after 6 months and Canon refused to cover the error in its warranty.  Luckily, we had bought the extended warranty for $30 at Best Buy, which we never do but it turned out to be a really great investment because we've actually taken the camera to get repaired a whopping four times in the year and a half following the purchase!   If we didn't do that, getting it repaired otherwise would have cost more than the value of the camera!  And if we just decided to get a new camera, we would have been stuck with a new camera that functioned only as a paper weight.

And cell phones are also a big problem.  Many have internal batteries, and when the battery breaks it often exceeds the value of the phone to replace the battery.

Last month, Sean wrote about the Electronic Recycling Superguide which gives many options about how to dispose of your electronics.

But before you recycle your obsolete or broken gadgets, there is more you can do!   Try to make your electronics last.

Get savvy with basic electronics maintenence.  TreeHugger has 22 videos about how to fix stuff,  from drying out a wet cell phone (I could have used that a few years ago when I accidentally left my cell phone on the back porch on a lovely summer afternoon turned thunderstormy!) to repairing a laptop LCD!   So, find the techy geek within and give it a whirl!

Still can't get your computer to work?  Try to find a local repair shop.  Forgo places like Best Buy.  If you're out of warranty, skip sending it back to the manufacturer because not only will they probably overcharge you but you might have to ship it which can also be expensive.  It's hard to find a local repair shop these days, but well worth it if it can make a computer last.

Do you have any computers that are obsolete but still functional?  Try donating them! Places like schools, after school programs, libraries, and community centers might want them!  In high school, I remember working on essays on an antiquated Apple IIe in our computer lab, and this was way past the Apple IIe's heyday!  We had lots of old computers, and they were only to write papers on them, so they served their purpose well.  Or for elementary schools, they'd be fine for simple, older games.   Just because a computer might no longer suit your needs doesn't mean that they're totally useless, so make a few phone calls and see if anyone wants your old computer!

Cell phones can be donated as well.  Most cell phones can be used to dial 911, even if they don't receive service otherwise, so an old cell phone can really help someone in need.  Learn more about donating an old cell phone at AmericanCellPhoneDrive.orgRecyclingForCharities is another great organization where you can not only donate your cell phone, but also old digital cameras, PDAs, and Ipods.

And now it's time for me to take my own advice and say sayonara to my electronics graveyard!


I ran across a company called

I ran across a company called at the maker fair this year.  The offer kits, parts, tools, and tips for fixing Apple Macs and iPods.  Very cool.

Thomas W. Lewis

That's great!

Thanks for sharing that link!

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