Computer refurbishing: Environmentally reducing the digital divide

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Abstract

Editor's Summary

The two-to-five year lifespan of a typical computer leads to many machines being unnecessarily disposed of, while over one in four Americans has no access to a computer. The troubling combination of electronic waste and digital deprivation can be resolved through computer refurbishing. Distinct from recycling in which computers are rendered unusable, computer refurbishing extends the usable life of donated computers, avoiding the consumption of additional natural resources. Electronics trade-in or recycling programs often ship machines overseas, leading to environmental pollution and harming workers' health. Refurbishers determine which machines are suitable for refurbishing or teardown, securely destroy any residual data and often install free and open source software. Consumers can help narrow the digital divide by turning to computer refurbishers such as Free Geek, ultimately helping to broaden computer access in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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