Old clothes I take to the thrift shop. Old furniture I leave on the street. (In Manhattan, nothing stays out there more than an hour. In Miami, the bugs eat through it in under a week.)

But what does one do with old computers?

If you’re someone who’s physically incapable of throwing away a book — as I am, no matter how worthless — imagine the gag reflex involved in throwing away a computer.

Think of all the starving-for-RAM children in India, or even our inner cities.

But having thought of them, what then? What are millions of us supposed to do with these things?

I was all set to start researching this thorny problem — by asking YOU what to do, naturally, knowing that your ideas would be better than mine — when I flipped on ABC Nightly News and found the Solution. (This is a particularly appealing feature of Peter Jennings’ show: the segment called: “Solutions.”)

Basically, what you do with your old machines is send them to the the Computer Recycling Center (2971 Mead Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95051) along with a letter explaining what you’ve sent (anything but dead monochrome monitors) and a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can send you a receipt.

The receipt is only valuable to you if you itemize your deductions — and even then only if you grossly exaggerate the value of your gift, since (let’s face it) your old computer is worth very little on the open market.

But the computer itself, and the act of sending it, are indeed valuable. The Computer Recycling Center will refurbish it for classroom use (even a 286 machine can handily help teach a child to read or to multiply); or if that’s not possible cannibalize it for parts; or, occasionally, sell it to the general public to raise needed operating revenues. Any of the three sure beats adding it to the local landfill or consigning it to that spot in your closet beside the fondue maker.

Tomorrow: Paper towels


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