Electronic Media Hell and other Recycling Stories


An archeologist dig of electronic media spanning decades. It’s practically museum worthy.

“You’re not throwing out your 2001 files,” my husband asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm, as he helped me carry plastic bins down the attic stairs. Yes, yes, I am – finally!

Besides throwing heaps of paper into the recycle bin, I tossed all those old backup files on SyQuest (yup, I’ve had files for that long!), Jaz, Zip – you name it – of client work over the last ten years into a bin (photo left). When it was full it weighed over 70lbs.

My husband helped me haul it to the car (he’s so handy to have around) so I could drive it to Total Reclaim in Seattle.  I had called before to make sure they took all my different media. They did they take media players? Yes. All the cables? Yes. Old routers? Yes. I was starting to love these guys. Ink cartridges? No. Ok, they’d have to get sent to Green Disk.

Then I asked them about pricing. Twenty five cents a pound for new media (CDs/DVDs) two dollars for old media (SyQuest, Zip etc.); plus two dollars a pound for data destruction. So, I was looking at possibly a couple hundred dollars to dispose of my e-media trash and I was good with that.

But, then I started thinking about the ferry ride over to Seattle, which can be time consuming…so I was on the fence. Should I send my electronic pile to GreenDisk, which offers a ship by mail service – so convenient but more expensive, or to Total Reclaim? As luck would have it I had to run into Seattle this morning so Total Reclaim it was – and a good thing it was too.

After driving into South Seattle, the truck- and train track-rich area of town, I squeezed my car between a couple 18-wheelers to the back of Total Reclaim, parked and walked up to their customer service door. An affable guy helped me lug my stuff from the car and dumped it in a bin as I watched forklifts stacked with hard drives and computers maneuver around the warehouse. “What do I owe you?” I asked. “Nothing. You didn’t have that much,” he said with a smile. FREE disposal – WooHoo! Looking around the warehouse that was filled floor to ceiling with racks of discarded electronics, I guess in his view it wasn’t much stuff. Made my day though.

You Know What’s Almost as Bad as Electronics? Catalogs!


CarbonRally’s interactive map allows you to see the carbon savings of other people/teams around the world who are doing each challenge.

It’s one thing to purchase stuff, but, it’s a whole other thing to get unsolicited stuff, right?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about recycling, reusing and reducing, CarbonRally  maybe just the ticket. They have challenges that anyone can sign up for, such as their Kick the Catalogs challenge.  It’s a more social approach to going green, so you won’t feel so all alone.

CarbonRally says the easiest way to reduce catalogs is to first collect them, then go to CatalogChoice  and enter in the name and customer number from the mailing label. It’s time-consuming, but I wrote a postcard to each catalog a few years ago and it gave me relief from unsolicited catalogs for about a year. Yes, you’ll need to do this every few years.

Now, Time to Kick Back with a Good Read
While I was cleaning out my files I ran across some old friends, clients I had worked with when I had a web development company, Super Web Group. I can highly recommend:

ink cartridges for recycleFollow Up
After taking the majority of my electronic trash to Total Reclaim I still had some CD/DVDs to go through and two ziplock bags of ink cartridges waiting for disposal. Ink cartridges are the worst because most store/companies will only take the ink cartridges for the printers they carry which means sorting them into little piles and making trips to each store to recycle them. Thankfully, GreenDisk takes all types of ink cartridges along with electronic media, so I tried out their “you pack it” service where you use your own box versus having them send you one of theirs.

It’s not cheap, and I found the “you pack it” the same price as having them send me one of their mailable technotrashcans. I think it was a tad greener to reuse a cardboard box I had versus having something shipped to me then driving to FedX, but the cost of the service and shipping is about the same: $42/per 35lbs of media trash.

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3 Responses to Electronic Media Hell and other Recycling Stories

  1. Liesl Clark says:

    Hi Jane:
    You might try taking your printer cartridges to Paper Products or Curves on the island. No need to send them away and certainly don’t pay someone to take them. They’re worth money and that’s why companies are happy to receive them. Best Buy will take your CDs, DVDs and just about all the electronics you mentioned here. I know you know this, but thought I’d mention it here since others might read through to comments. On our Trash Backwards app (trashbackwards.com) you can access all of that info by choosing Bainbridge Island in the drop-down menu at the right to see all the hyper-local reduce, reuse, and recycling info on all items. Isn’t it fun, navigating the world of responsible disposal of our stuff? All my best to you,
    Liesl at Trash Backwards.

  2. Jane says:

    Hi Liesl -
    Yes, it’s been a learning process for me. So thanks for the tips so others can learn more quickly/take a less costly and circuitous route to responsible trash management. Thanks.

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