Disposing of Old Computers for a Good Cause

Little Geeks is a philanthropic organization that collects, refurbishes and re-distributes donated home computers to children in need. These computers are given free of charge, and are coupled with an Internet connection at the child's home.

The program is currently only available in the Greater Toronto Area, but hopes to expand throughout Canada and the United States.

The Mission of Little Geeks is to provide free computing technology and education to children and families who cannot afford this resource on their own.

You can donate your computer simply by dropping it off at reBOOT Canada. Let the staff member that receives it know you are dropping it off for "Little Geeks" so that it is directed to the right place.

"Little Geeks" will gratefully accept any computer (Mac or PC), printer, scanner or computer parts from you of any age. If it is not used in one of our programs it will be recycled and, where possible, revenues from the waste stream will be used to support our programs.


A study by Environment Canada states more than 140 tonnes of computer equipment gets dumped in the landfills each year. In an effort to reduce the amount of techno-trash out there, several companies are offering ways for consumers to go green and recycle old computer materials. Companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell will take back their old PC's for a fee. However, the best and least costly way to avoid adding the landfill is to donate your old computer to charity or to a group like reboot or simply give it to friends or family members who may be able to use it.

ReBOOT Canada is a non profit organization that refurbishes old computers and distributes them to charities and others with limited access to technology. With offices in Toronto, Peterborough, Ottawa and London, Ontario as well as several others across Canada, reboot has found homes for more than 60,000 pieces of computer equipment since 1996. There are also many other organizations and charities that would be pleased to take your old computer including Industry Canada's Computers for Schools program or you can check your municipality for local computer recycling programs. 

In most cases, recycling organizations will attempt to put your old computer into the hands of someone who can use it. However, if your equipment is beyond refurbishing, parts of it can still avoid the landfill. At reBOOT for example, employees keep the useful parts and then send the rest to companies that recycle the plastic, metals and glass. Some municipalities also offer special environment days during which residents can drop off old electronic equipment that will either be donated or recycled where possible.

Many recycling programs will also find homes for used printers, ink cartridges and software. If ink cartridges still contain ink, reboot will distribute them. If they're out of ink, they send them to a company that refills and then resells  them. As well, many office supply retailers have programs for recycling ink cartridges. Even old software if it is the original copy and comes with a license that allows re-use, can be donated along with the computer.

Recycling or donating your old computer is definitely a greener way to get rid of it. However, before you do, be sure to back up any files you want to keep and then erase everything off your hard drive. For Windows XP and 2000 users, the easiest way to wipe your hard drive is to reinstall your operating system. The installation CD will prompt you to reinstall with an option to clear your hard drive. For Windows 98 and 95 users, the safest bet would be to consult a computer technician at your nearest computer store to guide you through the process. But don't forget to back up your files first.

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