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6 Ways to Recycle Your IT Gear for Earth Day

  • We all love our smartphones, computers, tablets, and gadgets. Some of us wait in long lines the moment the latest tech hits the shelves, while others upgrade when our old devices finally kick the bucket. Either way, we are all inevitably left with obsolete technology that we need to discard. The hardware, batteries, cables, and accessories often become burdensome because we are not sure how to recycle this material. As digital transformation continues to permeate IT professionals’ data centers, the same is true of legacy infrastructure that is either rendered obsolete by new technology like cloud computing or are simply subject to an upgrade.

    Recycling properly can take time that IT professionals may not have since they're busy keeping organizational processes running smoothly, which means the environment often takes a backseat as old tech collects dust in the supply closet.

    In the spirit of Earth Day this Sunday, SolarWinds polled its THWACK community of more than 145,000 IT professionals and collected their best tips and tricks for recycling or disposing of older hardware in an environmentally friendly way.

    Here are some of the best ways to reuse and recycle old technology this Earth Day, along with advice on how to be more green by reducing your data center footprint.

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  • Extend use as much as possible

    It may sound simple, but extending the use of any technology will limit the number of devices to discard. It’s crucial to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Properly maintaining devices, including updating systems on a regular basis, can extend the life of the devices significantly. Let’s be honest: We often run to the store or pre-order new tech when our old devices work perfectly fine.

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  • Donate old items to schools and charity

    If devices still work, but upgrades are necessary to keep business processes functioning at a high level, donate the  items to the local school system. By providing devices like computers and tablets to schools, we can help kids learn and promote STEM education, especially in areas with constrained resources and limited access to technology.

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  • Recycle old items with reputable recyclers

    Once systems can no longer be used in-house or donated, work with a reputable company to properly dispose of the technology. Cords and hardware need to be disposed of differently than batteries, so when dealing with a large volume of equipment, most companies will use a third-party vendor to help. Vendors can also be used to securely wipe hard drives, test systems, and try to salvage as much as they can. Equipment that is no longer usable will be degaussed (discs), dismantled, and fed into the appropriate recycling streams.

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  • Reuse equipment for art projects or office supplies

    Before recycling your technology in an environmentally safe way, you might want to check to see if different pieces can be repurposed for art projects or other useful purposes. Keyboards can be used as pencil holders, and old phones can be used for book stoppers; there are very creative tech “makers” that can repurpose almost anything.

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  • Virtualize to maximize hardware use

    Virtualize servers as much as possible to maximize the hardware being used; this also will help reduce electric usage. By increasing server utilization, IT professionals can reduce hardware requirements and operating costs.

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  • Buy less hardware by leveraging the cloud

    One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is it significantly reduces upfront, capital investments needed for technology infrastructure while also eliminating the need to dispose of obsolete hardware and accessories. Cloud computing reduces the needs for physical space, because many applications are running off-premises.

    (Image: MF3d/iStock)

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