What to Do With My Old Laptop

Well, I’ve had a little break from my blog, but I’ve still been thinking about more ways to go green 😉 This week it’s the turn of what to do with my old laptop.

Unfortunately, after a few years my laptop really isn’t suitable for use any more – it freezes a lot, is incredibly slow and isn’t reliable enough for me to use as I need to be able to save work and access things that I’ve already done. So I decided it was time for a new one (this alone caused a little bit of green heart-wrenching!)

But what can I do with my old laptop? I judge it not really usable for another person, so I can’t donate it or sell it. But then I also can’t just throw it away. Electronic products can be made out of hazardous materials and as such you don’t want them in landfill where they could easily react with other substances! Also, it’s such a waste to throw something away, even if it isn’t usable as it is.

Waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) that shouldn’t be thrown away normally is labelled with a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol – the photo below is of this symbol on the bottom of my laptop. The Hg in the circle next to it means that the laptop contains mercury (this is a hazardous metal), and you can see that it also says “Lamp(s) contain Mercury. Dispose Properly”. This highlights that you can’t just put this item in with your normal household waste because it could be dangerous.Laptop Symbols

A great suggestion one of my friends has given me is to remove the RAM (Random Access Memory) from my laptop, which is the valuable bit and the bit that someone else could use  and sell it. You can look on eBay for the price you might be able to sell your RAM for. Then the rest of the laptop can be taken to a local recycling site where it will hopefully be broken down into bits which can be used again.

Because I have literally only just learnt how to remove the RAM, I’d like to direct you to this youtube video (below), which shows you how to do it very simply and easily. He first removes the battery from the laptop, and then takes out the RAM – it’s quite distinctive looking so you’ll know when you’ve found it! Remember to wipe your laptop of all your data first, though.

What do you do when one of your electronic or electric devices reaches the end of its life?

A Digital Diet

As I’ve written about before – see my Computer Time post that I published last year – I think that part of being eco-friendly is about watching how much time you spend using technology. I am as guilty as anyone else at mindlessly staring at webpages, and as I wrote before, I’ve been trying to cut down how much time I spend on my computer, in order to help save energy and not spend so much time glued to a screen.

I realised how much I’d deviated from my original plans (again, see previous post), when I found myself knitting whilst browsing Pinterest the other day. And no, it’s not possible to do both at once, yet somehow I was trying to do it anyway.

I write a lot about eco-friendly products, and I realise that I do this because we live in such a consumer-focused world. So, as you’ve seen if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’ve been also trying to explore ways of reducing how much I buy in the first place (see my Minimalism and Project 333 posts) which can often mean that I’m left with more time on my hands.

I’ve been without my computer for a day or so – such as on the National Day of Unplugging – but obviously that’s just one day. I want to try and incorporate that mindset into my day-to-day life; single days such as the National Day of Unplugging and Earth Day are great for raising awareness but won’t do much good unless they encourage people to bring eco-friendly values into their lives for good.

I’ve mentioned before a book called The Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg. It takes you through thinking about what you use your technology for, and whether you truly enjoy it and use it in the way that would suit you best. You start off with a two-day ‘digital detox’ before moving on to gradually increasing what Sieberg calls your ‘e-day allowance’, as well as doing small exercises every day to help you think about how and why you use technology. I’m currently on ninety minutes per day, so I’m trying to restrict my technology time to match that. It’s a challenge, but I feel like it’s helping me to realise how much time I waste and how much electricity I’m using.

Even if you don’t buy the book, try thinking about your technology habits. Do you want to spend so much time reading online news or gossip or flicking through the Facebook homepage?

I’m hoping that by addressing my technology usage I’ll start thinking more about what matters to me both online and in the rest of my life. Technology is great, but it shouldn’t take over our lives at the expense of everything else! By thinking more about my energy consumption beyond a single hour, day or week, I’m hoping to reduce the amount I use whilst still enjoying myself!

Have you tried something like this before? I know that so many of the blogs I follow are full of photos of gardening, cooking, knitting and other simpler but enjoyable things in life, and I’m trying to follow this idea too! (N.B. a belated Happy Days post – see my first one here – will hopefully appear shortly!)

Earth Hour

So this post is about the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour – similar to the National Day of Unplugging, which I previously wrote about, but this is only for an hour.

Basically, the idea is that you turn off all your lights at 8.30pm on Saturday 29th March for an hour – and appliances, TV, computer too if you like – and do something that is better for our planet (for some ideas, check out WWF’s list of 60 Things To Do In The Dark). If you really can’t do it at this time, pick another time instead, I don’t think it really matters! But if you do move it then I’d suggest you should go for a time that you normally have lights blazing and you’re using lots of power, just so it makes more of a difference to you.

I try to do something similar every now and again, but I love the thought of so many people turning their lights out at the same time, all to show solidarity for our world. UK attractions including Big Ben, the London Eye, Brighton Pier and Blackpool Tower will all be turning off their lights – joining in with thousands of people around the world!

One of my favourite ideas is curling up with a good book and some hot chocolate (I have lots of candles so I can make use of them too!), although my sisters should be around that day so I’ll make my priority catching up with them 🙂

Do you think this is a good idea? What are you going to do?

National Day of Unplugging

I just came across this link about the National Day of Unplugging on Minimalist Mom’s blog (I’m not a mum but it’s still a great blog – check it out!)

Here’s what the website says about it:

Do you have multiple cell phones? Take your ipad to the beach on vacation? Ever find it hard to get through a conversation without posting an update to Facebook? Is your computer always on?

We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.

If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

This fits in really well with the post I did last year on reducing your Computer Time – I think I might try it and see how it goes! Let me know if you’re planning to get involved too!

Week 15: Computer Time

At the moment, I’m doing a full-time publishing and marketing internship, which means that I pretty much have no choice but to stare at my computer screen from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Then I often go home and stare at the TV, my laptop or my phone for at least part of the evening.

So this week, I’ve decided to set myself a challenge of cutting down the time I stare at screens in my leisure time. I feel that this is a good step to becoming more eco-friendly because it means I’ll be using less electricity, and hopefully will instead spend my time doing more productive and less carbon-fuelled activities.

My plan is to turn my work computer off for my lunch hour every day. Even during lunch, I often spend my time browsing mindlessly through Pinterest, Facebook or other websites. And these are things I don’t really need to be doing all the time. So I’ll turn off the computer and either spend my lunch eating and reading or writing, or I’ll eat and then go outside for some fresh air and a walk (this second option being the better one I think!)

For the time I spend at home, I’ll try to restrict my phone usage to texts or calls only. I’ll try to make a list of things I want to get done on my laptop and then set aside a specific amount of time (say, an hour or two) at regular intervals to try and make my laptop time more productive and less mindless.

I’ve just ordered a (second-hand!) book called The Digital Diet, which I’m really excited to start reading when it arrives! Hopefully it will build on what I’m planning to do this week and help me make my life revolve less around screens and electricity and more around things that are simpler and more enjoyable.

Give this one a try – it won’t be as hard as you think, and you’ll suddenly have so much more time in your day, plus you’ll be helping the environment without even realising!

Week 14: Recycling a Mobile Phone

I’ve been doing a bit of clearing out recently, and found my 3 old mobile phones at the bottom of a drawer. I don’t buy a new phone very often – maybe once every 3 years or so – but even so, I’ve managed to build up a few! One of them is broken: the battery no longer attaches to the phone, so this week I’m investigating what to do with it next.

I found this good article on Recycle Now about how a mobile is recycled, which is useful! It tells you what  happens to the various different bits that make up a phone. And it also tells you if you can recycle it nearby! Luckily, there’s a recycling bank near me where I can recycle my phone, so I’m pleased about that!

If there’s nowhere nearby you can recycle yours, and you don’t want to scout around the country looking for somewhere, then you can try one of the numerous websites that offer cash for your old phone. Personally, I’d try the company you bought the phone from in the first place, but obviously check out what they’ll do with it after they’ve got it, as you don’t want to be selling it to someone who’s just going to throw it straight in a landfill.