What Do You Do With “Retired” Macs?

laptop_recycle

What do you do with your old Macs when you upgrade to a new system? Many folks sell their old computer on eBay or locally, but that’s something I’ve rarely done. I mostly either keep them as “B-team” units, or hand them off to other family members.

My Mac laptops are tools of my trade, and I would feel pretty vulnerable if I didn’t have a spare — or two — on hand, with the most likely candidate for understudy usually being the machine most recently replaced as No. 1. For example, when my WallStreet PowerBook’s processor died without warning in August 2002, the 1.5-year-old Pismo PowerBook 2001 I’d acquired nine months earlier got promoted to No. 1 workhorse without my suffering even a day of computer-less downtime.

Even if you don’t depend on your Mac for your livelihood, it’s worth considering how much inconvenience and/or expense you’d incur if your No. 1 machine failed, needed to go in the shop or sent away for repair, or got stolen. Hanging onto old computers as “spares” is, of course, much easier if they’re laptops. Storing retired desktop rigs eats up more space than many will find acceptable.

If you don’t want to bother with the hassle of selling or storing your old machine and have no family members or friends who would be interested in taking it off your hands, either to use or as a parts mule, another potential disposal route, if it’s in respectably good condition, would be to donate it to a school, church, youth drop-in center, a day-care, or other institution that would appreciate it.

On the other hand, if the reason you’re replacing the computer is that it broke, and it’s really not worth fixing (be realistic, even if the old unit has sentimental value) try to find a disposal mode that’s environmentally responsible, rather than just tossing it in the garbage. Techno-trash has become a major global problem. For example, the average CRT monitor can contain up to 8 pounds of lead. Nova Scotia, where I live, has an environmentally sound electronics recycling program run by the government.

Apple has had free computer and iPod recycling programs since 2001. U.S. customers, who buy a new Mac through the Apple Store or Apple’s retail stores, can receive free shipping and environmentally friendly disposal of their old computer. U.S. and Canadian customers wanting to dispose of used computers or monitors at any other time may also use Apple’s recycling program by purchasing $30 prepaid shipping labels to send used units to Apple’s recycling partner. For more information on what is options are available to you, read up on Apple’s recycling initiative.

In some communities, there are also organizations that refurbish old computers for distribution to the less fortunate, either domestically or in developing countries.

So, to post the question again, what do you do with your old Macs?

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