By Willie E. Brake
SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Your old computer might have some life left in it, however dropping it off at your favorite nonprofit, charity, or library might not be the best way to pass it on. I will help you learn about the environmentally smartest options in this article.
As companies, nonprofits, charities, libraries, and individuals find reasons to upgrade their computers, the problem of how to safely discard used equipment continues to grow.
There are many reasons to donate or recycle your used equipment:
• Every computer dumped into a landfill represents a missed opportunity to provide technology and tools to individuals and organizations that may not be able to afford it.
• Even if a computer cannot be reused, recycling ensures that valuable raw materials are recovered from used computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally sound fashion.
Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only 15 to 20 percent of computers and other electronic devices are being recycled in the United States.
All About Technology has a long history of working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Microsoft, local nonprofits, and other organizations to improve the environment and bridge the digital divide by helping consumers and businesses properly donate or recycle computer equipment. We also have expertise in computer equipment refurbishing through our Electronics Recycling Initiative. We provide reliable, warrantied desktop and laptop computers to individuals, small businesses, nonprofits and charities at the lowest possible cost.
Below are some tips for passing along your used but still useful equipment.
1. Determine if Your Old Computer Can Be Reused
If your computer is less than five years old, chances are it can be put to good use by someone else. Usually, the lifespan of a computer is seven to eight years. Extending the computer's lifespan through reuse provides the highest environmental benefit of all electronics disposal alternatives.
2. Remember the Software, Documentation, and Accessories
If you can, include the keyboard, mouse, printer, and any other accessories you have used with the computer. Keeping the Certificate of Authenticity sticker (usually on the computer) intact is generally the most important thing to remember. This allows us to inexpensively re-license and reload Microsoft Windows and Office software on the donated machines.
3. If You Clear Your Computer of Personal Information Yourself, Use Disk-Cleaning Software
The best way to protect against any unauthorized use of personal information is to use a disk-cleaning tool that obliterates all data on the hard drive. Personal information includes your Internet browser's cache, cookies, history; your email contacts and messages; your documents; your recycle or trash folder; and all nontransferable software.
4. Keep a List of What You Donated for Your Records
Remember that tax season is right around the corner — and you are likely eligible for a deduction if you donate to a nonprofit organization. All About Technology works with a nonprofitrefurbisher and can provide a tax receipt upon request. Business donors can deduct the undepreciated value of the computer, and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. For more information on tax laws related to computer donation, see Section 170 of the Federal Income Tax Code.
If you are interested in donating your office or personal computers, visit us online at www.all-about-technology.com or call us directly at (313) 218-4888.
Willie E. Brake is a Computer Expert and Industry Analyst at All About Technology, a Certified Minority Business Enterprise and Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, based in Detroit, Michigan.
With the end of Michigan’s Scholarship Month, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds students and their families that the very first step to take when applying for scholarships and other forms of financial assistance is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Commonly known as a FAFSA, this federal application is typically the gateway to scholarships, grants, loans and other types of financial assistance used to pay for college. Individuals should complete their FAFSA as soon as possible, even if they don’t believe they qualify for any state aid.
Priority consideration for state aid programs is given to students whose FAFSA is received at the federal processor on or before March 1.
“In most cases, the FASFA is the gateway to financial assistance for many students,” said Anne Wohlfert, director the Treasury’s Student Financial Services Bureau. “Michigan students and their families shouldn’t wait to complete this very important form. It can be done online and typically takes about an hour to complete for the first time.”
Prior to completing the online FAFSA, the student and at least one parent must obtain a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at www.fafsa.gov. This ID serves as a legal signature and confirms an applicant’s identity when accessing financial aid information through certain U.S. Department of Education websites.
“Remember, the first ‘F’ in FAFSA means ‘Free,’” Wohlfert said. “There is no reason to pay to submit the FAFSA.”
To get started with FAFSA, go to www.fafsa.gov. To learn more about state of Michigan scholarships and other financial assistance programs, go to MI Student Aid’s website at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid or follow @MIStudentAid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.