These organizations provide access to tech at an affordable price and help divert electronics from landfills
BY TRAVIS PERSAUD
Smartphones and laptops, headphones and cords—our lives are a revolving door of new technology coming in and old gadgets getting tossed. And it makes sense—consumer electronics aren’t designed to last forever. The average person has their smartphone for two to three years; a laptop’s lifespan is four to seven years; and then there’s the endless number of peripheral devices, dongles, streaming devices and beyond that go poof! when we least expect it.
If you’re thinking we create a lot of electronic waste as a result of this, you’re right. The Bureau of International Recycling in Brussels, Belgium, reported that Canada produced 638,300 tonnes of e-waste in 2017. That equals the weight of around 3,200 blue whales!
Thankfully, there are a growing number of organizations that are able to refurbish items that still have life, and properly recycle old technology. The effects are twofold: These programs provide people access to these devices at an affordable price and divert e-waste from landfills.
“The three Rs have a hierarchy,” says Jessica Lifely, business development and marketing manager for the Electronic Recycling Association. “We want people to think first about reduce and reuse. [That’s why] we work with charitable organizations, donating electronics we refurbish. There’s always a person in need of that device. That said, if electronics needs to be disposed of, we can recycle them so those raw materials don’t seep into the environment—and ensure all data has been completely wiped,” she says.
Ready to see if there’s new life in your old tech? Here are three organizations where you can donate your devices so they can either find a new home or be disposed of in an environmentally conscientious manner.
Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) Where: 489 Brimley Rd. #15, Scarborough, plus a number of other locations across Canada How to donate: Donations are accepted Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can also fill out this form to schedule a pickup at your home or office—the service is free if you have a minimum of five computers, laptops, servers or other large items. Who it helps: ERA works with hundreds of registered charities to help fulfill their members’ needs. The charities mostly work with individuals experiencing poverty, health issues or other social concerns.
reBOOT Where: 103-550 Bayview Ave., Toronto and 2-2301 Royal Windsor Dr., Mississauga How to donate: After filling out their online donation form, you can drop off your used computer equipment to reBOOT’s offices from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. They also have a pickup service for $40; the charge is waived if you’re donating 10 or more computers. Who it helps: After refurbishing, reBOOT provides donated equipment to eligible individuals, charities and non-profits at a subsidized rate. Also, their reLAY program works to provide free Internet access to public-facing organizations who work with individuals in need.
Free Geek Where: 180 Sudbury St., Toronto; buzzer code: 1191 How to donate: Bring your used electronics to the office of this social enterprise between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. Call (416) 572-3737 ahead of your drop-off if you need help unloading your vehicle. Free Geek also provides pickup service on Thursdays for a fee of $40 to $100, depending on your location. Who it helps: Once the Free Geek team has brought them back to life, your old devices enter the Free Geek Thrift Store. This provides community members—everyone from newcomers to students to social entrepreneurs—access to technology at an affordable price.
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