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What Are Chicagoans Doing With Their Old Tech? Chicago Storage, Recycling and Reusing Options

Cities like Portland and Austin get a lot of attention for being on the up and up with regards to recycling, reusing and even embracing old (and often seen as outdated) technology. It might even surprise you to learn that there are other cities getting in on the action. Chicago, for example, is a city with all sorts of programs for people who have old technology and don’t know what to do with it.


Thus, if you live in Chicago and have old computers (or parts of computers) taking up space in your house or apartment and you aren’t sure what to do with them, here are some suggestions.

Keep It

It is understandable that you (or someone who lives with you) would want to clear out all of that old gear to make room in your home. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw it away! Why not put it in storage? Chicago storage is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to store your valuables when you’ve run out of space in your home. After all, you never know when you might need those circuit boards or radio parts.

If you do decide to put your old and outdated technology into a storage unit, make sure that you get one that is climate controlled. Technology is sensitive. Chicago winters and summers are harsh. Those things do not make good bedfellows!

Donate It

There are all sorts of programs (both locally based in Chicago and national programs) that want your older and gently used technology.

Free Geek Chicago is a non-profit organization that takes in older technology, fixes it up and makes it user friendly and then donates it to under privileged communities that are in need of working computers and other technology. You can visit their website for a list of what they take and what they don’t.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a national organization that will take your old cell phones and then sell them to recycling companies in an effort to raise money to buy calling cards for service men and women who are stationed overseas. They’re also working on a program that will provide video capable phones to soldiers so those soldiers can see their friends and family when they call home.

Recycle It

There are all sorts of different ways to recycle your old technology. The Environmental Protection Agency has a great list of different stores, companies and organizations that will take everything from batteries to laptops (and everything in between).

Before you hesitate, it is important to understand how technology recycling usually works. So many people believe that it is simply taking, for example, an old computer and cleaning it out before putting it to use somewhere else.

Really, recycling technology usually means that the technology you’ve turned in is going to be stripped down and separated into its reusable parts (circuit boards, wiring, etc). Those parts are sent off to manufacturers who then repurpose it into newer technology or use it to build refurbished models of current technology that they can sell at a lower price.

Repurpose It

Are you creative? Why not turn your older technology into something new and useful. You don’t need any specialist cleaning services to do this. Lifehacker, for example, has a great article called Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Retired Gadgetry into the Technology of the Future, that is filled with ideas of ways to use older tech. For example, turn an older webcam into a security camera for your home. Turn your old iPod touch into an iPhone using VOIP apps. You can use old routers for new streaming media. You can do things like turn old video game cartridges into portable hard drives. There really isn’t any limit to what you can do when you want to keep your old tech on hand.

Before you do anything, though make sure you’ve taken the following steps:

  1. Transfer any usable data to a new and portable hard drive. You don’t want to lose those highly valuable bitcoins! You also never know when you might need that article or list of bookmark links! You definitely want to make sure you’ve saved your photos and videos!
  2. Wipe your hard drives. You don’t want the next person who uses your computer to have access to any personal or saved data, do you? Erase everything after you’re sure you’ve backed it up on a new hard drive. This is especially important for smart phones and tablets that you might be turning in or selling.
  3. Restore factory settings. This way the machine thinks it is brand new when it gets turned back on. It makes it easier for the new user to set the machine up the way they want it.

Have you found something creative to do with your old technology or a great way to store it safely for future use? Tell us about it!

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  1. Priyanka Jain

    December 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Chicagoans have truly come up with a good work about recycling and reforming it to donate it to underprivileged community. it is indeed a humble way of solving the outdated tehno things. should learn from them. thanks for the info.

  2. Richard Thompson

    February 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I think donating your old tech to the right people can be one of the most worthwhile things you can do with old devices. In the case of Cell Phones for Soldiers, donating your phone or old device can help those who have already helped you. Supporting our armed forces in whatever way we can should be a priority for us. Thanks for sharing!

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