You shouldn't put it in the trash. Computer components are toxic. Instead, there are environmentally friendly options.
But before you do anything else, remove your personal information. Otherwise, your identity could be stolen.Deleting files isn't enough; they can be recovered. Overwrite the disk's files using a special program. For Windows, use Eraser, which is free from Heidi Computers. I have a link on my site.
If you have a Mac, SuperScrubber ($30) will work. It meets military specifications for data deletion.
Once you've cleaned the hard drive, you're ready to dispose of your computer.
First, ask around. Someone you know may want your old computer. If not, a charity might be able to use it. Charities can refurbish your machine and give it to someone in need.
Charities won't take any old computer. If you have a museum piece, a charity may not want it. The machine should be able to run modern software.
If your machine is less than four years old, it will be usable. Working machines are obviously preferred. But a charity may accept a broken machine.
Finding the proper organization is key. To do that, contact the National Cristina Foundation, which has affiliates in all 50 states. It accepts Macs and PCs alike. It may take a couple weeks for it to find a recipient.
Share the Technology allows you to list computers for donation. You can find an organization in your area. You make the arrangements to donate your computer.
UsedComputer.com is another site dedicated to donations. It also lists companies that will recycle old computers and electronics.
If your machine isn't obsolete, you can trade it in. HP arranges trade-ins through a third party. HP will give you a free quote for your old computer online through its Trade-In Program.
Toshiba and Gateway offer similar trade-in programs. You can also trade in other electronic gadgets.
If all else fails, recycle your old computer. A recycler will take the machine off your hands. But recyclers often charge a fee. The materials in the computer aren't worth a great deal. Hence, the fee. But the hazardous materials will be disposed of properly.
Finding a recycler can be tricky. But you'll find Web sites that will help. Electronics Recycling lists a ton of firms that do this work. The recyclers are listed by state. You should be able to find a nearby recycler. Some charge fees; others do not.
You can also recycle your machine through Dell. Dell doesn't charge to recycle its own machines; it will recycle other manufacturers' machines free with the purchase of a new Dell.
Hewlett-Packard will also recycle all brands of computers. Prices range up to $34. But if you buy a new HP machine, you'll qualify for a credit.
Apple also offers free recycling with the purchase of a new machine. The brand doesn't matter.
For more recycling solutions, visit The National Safety Council.