Amidst the flurry of carbon credits, lead-free electronics and green everything, the truth of the matter is that folks who are truly green don’t buy a lot of stuff. But that’s no way to push products, so we’re stuck with greenwashing. The technology industry is as guilty of this as anyone, but at least it’s also providing online communities and services aimed at keeping consumption down and recycling activities up. Here’s our handy guide to web sites devoted to electronic reuse and recycling:
FixYa — This site is made up of a community of users who can help people figure out what’s wrong with their appliances and digital gadgets, and hopefully get them back up and running, avoiding the pain and ecological damage of a trip to the landfill. FixYa recently raised $6 million to keep it up and running.
Partstore.com — Don’t want to throw it away, but you’re missing a key part? Head to Partstore.com, where you can find everything from old washing machine knobs to replacement bulbs for your televisions. It looks like customer reviews of the site are pretty uneven, so I’d keep the orders small, for now.
BuyMyTronics.com — If a hands-on approach isn’t your thang, the BuyMyTronics site might be the way to go. I’m someone who’s had pieces of a broken hair dryer sitting on her counter for a week after taking it apart for repairs, so I admit I’m all about recycling rather than fixing. BuyMyTronics accepts game consoles, cell phones, laptops, iPods and cameras and resells them for you.
SecondRotation — Much like BuyMyTronics, SecondRotation wants to provide a home for your old gadgets by hooking up buyers and sellers, but it only deals in cell phones and game consoles. I’ve sent a couple of phones to SecondRotation and was pleased at how easy it was. SecondRotation raised $4.4 million in January, so maybe recycling and reuse can entice venture investors.
PDAParts.com — This site specializes in parts and repair advice for smart phones and personal digital assistants. But if the site’s instructions aren’t enough for you, just send them your phone or PDA and have them either repair it for you. They’ll also sell it on your behalf.
The web has a ton of places for help on broken gadgets ranging from product forums to repair videos on YouTube. If you can’t fix it and no one wants to buy it, then package that device up and see if one of the consumer electronics stores will recycle it for you. Ideally, you can keep a good thing going for a bit longer, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and buy a new device. As someone who is still using a 5-year-old iPod can attest, it can be cool to be obsolete. OK, maybe not cool, but definitely green.