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By Russell Morgan

You donít have to be a techie to know that computers have become as fundamental to your business as a telephone. And if you think back a few years, Iíll bet you canít imagine using that old computer equipment to do the work that you are doing today. My guess is that if you are like most of us, when youíve upgraded your equipment youíve found a place to store the old stuff, because you know that just putting it in the trash isnít a good or very responsible idea. So Iím guessing that a storage closet, a basement or store room is where I could find one or more hardware devices that you no longer use (and never will again) just gathering dust.

How do I know you wonít ever use them? Because technology has advanced at a rate that you wouldnít even consider the time and trouble it would take to operate that old equipment. And the stuff that youíve been storing isnít just worthless to you, but to almost every other business out there. In fact, itís estimated that stored IT equipment loses six to 10 percent of its value each month.

So what should you do with those old PCís and laptops?

Donate: One option is to donate them to an organization that refurbishes computers and sends them to local schools and nonprofits in need. Make sure the organization that you donate to protects the privacy of your information by wiping your hard drive clean. These organizations will wipe the hard drive clean and make sure the computer functions properly before sending it off for charitable use. If the computer is too out-of-date for refurbishing, the hard drive will be wiped clean and destroyed, and the remaining portions of the computer will then be taken apart so the numerous valuable and recyclable components can be reused. There are a number of different programs nationwide that provide this service. Your local solution provider and online Web sites such as www.Earth911.org can help you find a facility in your area. Donít forget to write off your donation when tax time rolls around.

Recycle with an independent company: The three major parts of a personal computer Ė monitor, computer and keyboard Ė can all be recycled. From the glass in the monitor to the metals used in the circuits, much of a computerís components can find new life in other applications. The Environmental Protection Agencyís term for obsolete computers is ďhazardous household waste.Ē This hazardous label is due in part to the lead, mercury and other toxic materials contained in all computers. Disposing of hazardous waste, such as the 1.5 pounds of lead inside an average 15-inch computer monitor, in a landfill that is not permitted for such wastes poses a threat to drinking water and can result in other environmental hazards in the future. See the Web site above for a local computer recycler, or talk to your solution provider - they are usually familiar with independent recyclers in your area.

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Russell Morgan is the president of the Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance
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