Are you stashing valuable resources in your cupboards?

Our daughter is heading off to university soon, and it’s potentially an expensive time with kitting her out.

We’ve been scouring our home to find things to send her with, but her laptop and mobile phone are causing problems. Both gadgets are years old, and are seriously on their last legs. Her phone screen is shattered (how she reads through the splinters of glass I have no idea) and she can’t close the lid on her laptop because it’s split down the side.

She’s not particularly rough with things, in fact, she’s quite careful compared to many teens, but part of our ‘green’ lifestyle is to use things until they really need replacing. And even then we try to repair first of buy second hand. So yes, many things here look past their best, but as long as they still operate, we’ll keep using them!

A few years ago I bought a new laptop for work, and no word of a lie, two weeks after the guarantee ran out, it stopped working! I contacted the company but they refused to do anything about it. I reformatted it and replaced the keyboard in it, believing it would fix the problem, but it didn’t. So that laptop has been stashed – with three others, an old keyboard and an ipad that can’t be updated – in the office. You can read more about my embarrassing stash of computer equipment here.

The reason I’ve not passed on these electronics is because I’ve been unsure how to wipe the data. Particularly on the devices that will no longer start. You hear horror stories of stolen data and I admit it’s put me off for years.

But a recent BBC story has got me thinking again.

In the story, it indicated that 45% of homes in the UK have between two and five unused electronic gadgets in their homes with no plans to recycle them. With resources of rare earth elements such as indium and tantalum running out, we need to close the loop. If we all continue to stash our devices, it could prevent us getting hold of new ones in the future. And as SellCell point out (they offer cell phone recycling), if our cell phones end up in landfills it can cause damaging effects to the environment and our health. Toxins from landfills can be absorbed into the air, ground and water supply and over time cause harmful effects to the ecosystem and the environment.

Well I don’t know about you, but that’s tugging on my conscience again. So I’m going to dust off our old electronics, look into secure data wiping and make sure they get recycled properly. I keep saying I’m a closet minimalist and now it’s time to actually become one, right?!