To paraphrase George Carlin: An office is just a place to keep your stuff while you go online and get more stuff. At some point your stuff becomes broken, redundant or outmoded, and you have to get rid of it. But what do you do with all that stuff?
We just went through such an exercise with a great deal of stuff. This is what we learned.
Step 1: Sell it off
In some instances you can sell your unused/unopened equipment or supplies back to your supplier and get cash or a credit. If they can’t or won’t take an item back that’s still in its original box, you can probably find a buyer on Craigslist or EBay or a 1001 other sites. That often applies to used items that are still in working order too. Check out other postings for the same item and price your articles accordingly.
Step 2: Donate it
If you’ve tried to sell off your old equipment and have had absolutely no takers, donate it if it’s still in the box or still working. Some suggestions as to where to call: womens and homeless shelters, charities that work with at-risk youth, groups that provide back-to-school training or career retraining, and so on. When in doubt, contact your local United Way and they can help you find a home for your old articles.
Step 3: Recycle it
If you can’t sell or give it away or it’s unusable: recycle it. This particularly applies to computer components. Check with your local Eco-Centres or municipal recycling program to find out if there are trade schools or back-to-work programs that safely deconstruct your old computers and recycle the parts.
Word of Warning: There are many unscrupulous companies out there who claim to recycle your equipment safely when, in fact, they simply ship it to another country. It often winds up in landfill and/or gets stripped for parts that are cleaned up and resold as brand new. Be careful and do your research; check with your local green initiative programs as to who is trustworthy.
Step 4: Dispose of it safely
Most municipalities have recycling and hazardous waste programs. (Did you know that all monitors, scanners and printers fall into the hazardous waste category?) Before you throw anything in the trash or green bin, check with the experts. Getting a fine from the garbage collectors is not an option. A little due diligence and research will see you clear to clearing your space and unloading that unwanted stuff.