Thursday, September 1, 2011

Donation of the Day

I complain too often about people donating perfectly good gear just because it lost its glitter when the plastic wrapping came off. Sometimes a donation comes in that redeems my faith in human nature.

This note came in with a couple of laptops. It reads:

Silver HP has
- faulty monitor connector
- no working power supply

Compaq has
- motherboard not working
- no hard drive
- working power supply

I've been using the Compaq to charge batteries then swapping them into the HP, hopefully you guys can turn these into something better!
The HP is the laptop photographed behind the letter. Note the trashed hinge; it takes some stewardship just to open and close the lid, and this is the working one of the two laptops.

This donation made my day. Someone has successfully wrung every possible bit of utility from these two machines, and then passed them on for responsible recycling.

I'd love to report that we repaired the broken parts of both machines and sent them back out for another round in a world that's obviously unsympathetic towards laptops, but that's not what happened.

We salvaged one one hard drive, two strips of RAM, two wireless cards, one power supply, and two optical drives; the batteries were pulled for downstream recycling, and the carcasses will be passed along to a wholesaler who will hopefully be able to make use of the LCD panels. The left-overs will be recycled ethically and as locally as possible.

Still, not too bad an end for a couple of machines that lived their lives to the fullest. An early draft of Bill Reid's last will and testament apparently had him requesting that his remains be scattered in a bay at low tide, and that the crabs from that bay should then be harvested and eaten at a feast attended by his friends. He later backed off on the idea, but I think it's a great inspiration for the West Coast recycling ethic.


  1. That *is* inspiring, and nice to see they saved you some diagnostic time by listing all the issues... Btw, the new FreeGeek Van website is really easy to navigate and learn from, lookin' good!

  2. Thanks, Michael, I'll pass your compliment along to the guys responsible for the website overhaul. We were way past due for it and I think they did well.

    We sometimes get ancient and truly worthless parts with helpful notes and immaculate packaging, and those are a little sad. One fellow brought a serial mouse, circa 1989, to the receiving area with the cable carefully wrapped and the original driver floppy included. It had a little note attached explaining that it still worked perfectly and had recently been cleaned but he didn't need it any more. He handed it over very gently and thanked us for taking it in -- I had to wait until he was out of the building and around the corner before I chopped the wire off and scrapped it. But what else can you do with that kind of thing?

  3. by the way, is it possible to get junk (ready for recycling) laptops for free from free geek?

  4. EagleTeamExtreme, probably not free, but certainly cheap. Talk to the store and see what they can work out; for example, I know they're collecting P3 laptops that would otherwise be scrapped for a humanitarian project, and we have wholesalers who take broken laptops for scrap (i.e. screen replacements, which we don't do at Free Geek). There's an agreement you'd probably have to sign to ensure that broken gear will be properly recycled downstream.


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