A Different View of 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind'
Under the heading: "Not Using ‘Em Yet? Then Consider Storage," the bloggers casually mentioned: "If you have a number of electronics that you simply don't know what to do with yet, then you can store them instead while you decide." After a bit more explanation about the "low cost of storage," the segment concluded: "Putting your electronics in storage can give you a chance to figure out what you'd like to do with them, which is better than throwing them away or having it recycled."
This recommendation appeared to offer a different view of the old adage, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," which typically is understood as the idea that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as unimportant if it is not in our direct view. I would consider the idea of storing computers for an unspecified time to be more along the lines of "Out of Sight; Are You Out of Your Mind?"
The practice of storing idle computers remains one of the more significant problems with computer reuse and disposition today. It is estimated that millions of computers with plenty of useful life are prematurely retired from U.S. businesses each year, many of them relegated to closets or warehouses where they sit collecting dust.
While the blog I read is correct in assuming that computers and other electronics should not be haphazardly dumped into the waste stream, it should have focused on the ways reusing, recycling and refurbishing still-operating computers represent far better options than allowing useful units to sit idle. With nearly 60 percent of low-income American households in desperate need of computers, the notion that any company should store its unused computers "until they decide what to do with them" is terribly archaic and irresponsible.
This is especially true when considering that struggling U.S. families need basic computers to help them to search for jobs and enable their children to enhance their educational opportunities. Simply turn to the back of any newspaper employment section and you’ll realize that 99 percent of job ads are now online. Ask any student who does not have access to a computer how difficult it is to complete school assignments without online access.
A most viable alternative to storing computers resides in programs such as Connect2Compete, the initiative supported by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to narrow the digital divide through affordable computers for low-income Americans, free digital literacy training and discounted high-speed Internet; and Redemtech's own PC Pledge 100 computer donation campaign designed to entice corporations to provide their end-of-lifecycle computers to assist school age children with obtaining home PCs and laptops at a price in accordance with their families’ financial means.
Last week I had the opportunity to hear Connect2Compete CEO Zach Leverenz personally address the mission of the C2C initiative, through which the non-profit organization partners with Redemtech to refurbish computers donated by corporations and place them with eligible low-income families. More than 40 million computers are prematurely retired from U.S. businesses annually, Leverenz said, and 75% of those computers are less than four years old. Not only do donated computers help change the lives of family recipients, but donating computers helps the environment by reducing the amount of e-waste that might be improperly disposed in landfills or exported to Third World countries, he added.
“Through the collaboration and commitment of the many talented individuals, companies and non-profit organizations who have partnered with C2C, we have an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that all Americans have the tools and education necessary to be competitive in today’s digital economy,” Leverenz said.
Redemtech President Robert Houghton reiterated that sentiment by noting the importance of Redemtech’s selection as the chosen provider of low-cost refurbished computers for Connect2Compete. "As North America’s largest Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR), Redemtech is offering high-quality, business-grade desktop and laptop name-brand refurbished computers under the GoodPC brand to many families. This is a tremendous responsibility that Redemtech is proud to honor," Houghton said.
Computers should never fall into the category of "out of sight, out of mind." Electronic waste is a very visible global problem, so everything that can be done to reuse and recycle computers and other electronics must be done, especially when needy families and the environment benefit. Considering the type of personally identifiable customer and corporate data that may reside on idle computers, this aspect of the e-waste crisis has data security dangers as well.
Storing useful machines in warehouses is not a solution. The longer a once-useful computer sits in Computer Purgatory, the less value it retains.