Here’s the third and final installment in the series on green geekery. We’ve already gone over reducing consumption and reusing what you have, so now it’s time to address recycling. Unfortunately, the heavy metals often found in hardware make electronics difficult to recycle on the same scale as much simpler things, like plastic.
Recycling and reusing are very similar processes, but usually recycling involves parts. To this end, there are a few neat things out there for the technically inclined. Sending e-waste to municipal recycling often doesn’t work out so well. The effort to recycle also depends on there being a demand for new items made from recycled parts. Nobody’s going to go through the work of converting junk into cool stuff if nobody wants the cool stuff they’re making, right? That means there are two ways to work with recycling. You can donate your junk to be recycled, and you can buy the cool stuff made from recycled parts.
Buy Recycled Items
There’s a company called Motherboard Gifts that takes defective motherboards from electronics manufacturers and turns them into neat things. If you’ve seen the circuit board business card holder on ThinkGeek, this is where they got it. They’ve got coasters for your glass of water, jewelry, mouse pads, lights, and plenty of other things that are useful, geeky, and keep electronics out of landfills.
Recycle Your Own Stuff
Hey, Christmas and Hanukkah are coming up. Got a lot of old floppy disks sitting around the house? Got a geeky woman in your life? Haven’t gotten her anything yet? Put the two together! What she-geek wouldn’t love a purse made of floppy disks? I’m sure you can come up with other neat craft ideas for floppies.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have had a lot of old CDs sitting around the house for really outdated Linux distros. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I just held onto them. As it turns out, CDs are a class-seven plastic. This means they are recyclable in many regions, perhaps even yours. If your area doesn’t recycle class-seven plastics, you’ve still got another option. You can make a geeky but cool lamp. Check out Jim Watters’ directions for a CD lamp.
I saw one table at the Green Festival selling clocks made out of dead hard drives. Unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the company, but thanks to Google, I did find directions for how you can make your own! In fact, I found a site that lists five different craft projects for a dead hard drive (which is actually even cooler, in my opinion). In addition, the hillbilly how-to for computer parts is actually pretty cool. I especially like the idea of using an old mouse as a wall-mounted container.
If you’re using an old computer for parts, IKEA Hacker once showed how computer fans can be used to prevent mildew in an indoor greenhouse. All you need are a couple of fans, a power supply, and a glass enclosure. Using parts from old computers is, of course, a great thing to do. You don’t have to buy as many new parts, and you don’t have to throw away as many old ones.
- If you want to keep up on environmental news and technology, check out TreeHugger, a blog I’ve been reading for the last few weeks. They even have a green gift guide for geeks.
- Look around, you can probably find a green energy provider in your area.
- For your always-on server, look at a green Web hosts, such as Green Geeks and Taproot Hosting.
- A Kill-A-Watt can help you pinpoint which devices are really sucking power.
Alright, creative people, what can you build out of old parts? Tell us about your cool ideas…