Electronics are made from heavy metals and plastics, both of which take a large toll on the environment. Metals, primarily copper, lead, and mercury, account for 30 to 50 percent of a computer. But there are many ways to slow the use of these resources.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What You Can Do


Don't get a new computer until you have to! If you just use your computer for Microsoft Office and web browsing, an older computer will probably do the trick. Here are some tips to extend your current computer's lifespan.

  • Remedy software problems by refreshing your Operating System (OS). Configuration changes to your applications can help, too.
  • Remove old files from your hard drive. A cramped hard drive can slow your computer down. Store old files on thumb drives, external hard drives, or cloud servers.
  • Wait until hardware issues occur before buying a new one. Just remember to back up your data frequently! This is, of course, a good practice on computers of any age.

Students: Contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk for assistance or recommendations to maximize your current computer.


If your computer is less than five years old, chances are that somebody else can use the computer.

  • OSU owned equipment: At the end of the equipment's life your OSU owned equipment must go to OSU Surplus. You can work with your computer support groupOSU Surplus.
  • Personally owned devices: You can donate it to charity or give it to another person. Be sure to remove all your personal data from the computer first!
  • Need equipment? Need a device or piece of equipment for your department? Check with OSU Surplus to see if used equipment will fit your needs.


Recycle computer equipment to reduce electronic waste
Creative Commons licensed
from Mosman Council

Just because your computer is broken beyond repair doesn't mean that it should go in the garbage bin. In fact, House Bill 2626 makes it illegal to dispose of televisions, laptops, and computers in any landfill in Oregon.

  • OSU employees: Your OSU owned equipment must go to Surplus. Work with your computer support group to have your OSU computer equipment reused or processed properly by OSU Surplus.
  • Students and personal computers: You can recycle your old equipment at Goodwill, an office supply store, or a computer repair store.

The Bottom Line

Don't throw your electronics in the trash; there are many places to recycle them.

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