If your house is anything like mine, you know the frustration of closets overflowing with outdated electronic detritus. Old CPUs, enormous ancient monitors, shorted mice and keyboards, and oh so many graphics cards fill up space in my home because I don't want to fill up space in a landfill. Many U.S. cities and states regulate e-waste disposal; we don't want it in the landfills because it leaches toxic chemicals into the water supply.
E-waste is expensive to recycle, so many municipalities that don't allow e-waste to enter landfills offer limited free recycling access. If you are really lucky, you live near an e-waste recycling company that will take it off your hands free of charge so they can strip your old machines and sell the raw materials for profit. But what to do if you don't have an e-waste recycling company in your town, or if you are just really nostalgic about your old computer and can't bear to see it go, even though you haven't seen it in the back of your closet for six years? Consider getting creative with your e-waste and recycling it for the next Deconstruct for GOOD competition sponsored by Vizio and GOOD magazine.
The premise is simple: dig that junk out of the closet and do something with it. The winners are chosen by votes from the GOOD user community. The winner gets a prize — this year's winner received a Vizio Thin + Light, a Vizio All-in-One PC, and a subscription to GOOD magazine. That's a great way to replace the old machines that gave their lives to help win the competition. In a couple of years, the prizes may become new competition entries. It's the circle of computer life.
The best entries are those that use old machines to create innovative new tools. This year's winner, artist Ken Swallow, rebuilt an old laptop and an old PC into an old Star Wars Millennium Falcon, complete with lights and sound. I can't speak to the new computer's power, but it looks like the coolest CPU case ever, and the GOOD community seems to agree.
David Maloney took fourth place with an LED-lit coffee table showcasing a selection of motherboards.
The fifth place winner is my personal favorite. TotalGeek's Bio Computer is a fully-functional computer that grows wheatgrass. It's pretty, and you can grow food while you play video games. I see that as a win-win.
TotalGeek's Bio Computer (Photo courtesy of Mike Schropp)
This year's contest ran from July 10 to August 21, so interested geeks should have plenty of time to prepare for next year. Even if you don't plan to submit to Deconstruct for GOOD, consider giving some of that e-waste in your closet a new life. You'll probably have fun trying, and any non-geeks in the household will be grateful to have a closet cleaned out.
Related TechRepublic gallery: Circuit board jewelry is creative use for dead computer hardware
Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conducting science experiments at home. Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Transylvania University, and has experience in copywriting for education, print, business, and the web. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter via @HuTerra.