News

How to Donate Unwanted Computers and Electronics for Earth Day 2022

By Courtney Evers, Free Geek Toronto volunteer.

Happy Earth Day 2022! Are you getting ready to do your spring cleaning? If you have older technology such as laptops, desktops, printers, scanners and more, our donation site is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 5pm at 180 Sudbury St., just south of Queen St. W.

In 2021, Free Geek Toronto refurbished 227 computers. We were also able to get many of them out to the community at an accessible price through our retail store.

Last year also sent over 22,000 lbs of electronic waste to be recycled with our recycling partner, Quantum Lifecycle. That amount of weight is roughly equivalent to a mid-sized RV! 

By refurbishing older tech into new computers and diverting as much waste as we can to be refurbished, ethically recycled, and properly disposed of, Free Geek Toronto is helping to reduce the impact of e-waste on our Earth’s health. If you want to learn more about e-waste and its environmental impacts, check out this article from our blog.

Last year we were unable to collect as many donations and refurbish the same number of computers as we usually would because of the pandemic and subsequent lock-downs. Now that we are open again we are looking forward to working with our community members, our wonderful volunteers and our dedicated staff to continue to make affordable, accessible technology available to everybody, while helping to reduce the impact of e-waste on the planet.

Please consider making us a part of your spring cleaning by donating your older or unwanted technology, and help us to make 2022 the best year yet!

DONATIONS NEEDED

computers Monitors Graphic and Network cards
laptops Webcams RAM and Hard Drives
Mobile phones and tablets Microphones Servers
Ethernet Cables DVD and VCR players LCD/Plasma TVs
Power Cords Power Supplies Scanners
Cameras Radios and Receivers Stereos and Amplifiers
Turntables and Speakers Gaming Systems Video projectors

You can drop by Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 5pm at our 180 Sudbury St. Location. If you would like more information or want to arrange a drop-off time, please call us at 416-572-3738, or send us a message here.

Posted in News
Tagged with , ,

Newmarket reuse project turning technological trash into treasure

From an article in Newmarket Today by Joseph Quigley

Newmarket residents have a new option to be rid of their old devices in an environmentally friendly way through reuse.

Free Geek Toronto and NewMakeIt are running a computer reuse collection event most Sundays, until May 29. Through this York Region-funded initiative, you can take your old computers and other devices to 621 Timothy St., where they will be refurbished and eventually redistributed to those in need.

Free Geek Toronto executive director Ryan Fukunaga said the effort is an important way to keep devices used longer.

“The pandemic really highlighted how important having access to devices was,” he said. “When somebody’s done with a piece of technology, it may be at the end of use for them, but it’s not at the end of life.

“Instead of putting it into a landfill or putting it to be recycled, give it to an organization like ourselves (who) can take a look at it and see if the possibility for reuse is there. That can be incredibly useful,” he added.

York Region is funding the project as part of its Circular Economy Initiatives Fund, meant to reduce waste and enhance education and awareness around reuse. Free Geek Toronto was one of six recipients splitting $100,000 in grant funding.

Fukunaga said putting electronics into landfills releases many toxins and is inadvisable. As for recycling, he said though that is appropriate, there is more use to get from many devices before that step.

“Recycling is still a great option, especially for machines that are over 10 years old. But anything that’s newer than that can definitely be used.”

A team of 10 rotating volunteers will take donations, wipe the data and refurbish them with new software. Donations accepted include laptops and desktops, mobile phones, tablets, cables and cords, monitors, computer accessories and internal components. Printers cannot be accepted.

Fukunaga said it was a quiet first day March 13, with only about six coming in amidst snow. But he said they hope to see more patrons as the weeks go by.

There is no certainty for the initiative beyond May 29, but Fukunaga said there could be more to come if there is enough interest.

“We know people in York Region care about the environment, and we know they’re eager to find ways. We just want to make it a bit easier,” he said. “If this goes well, the sky’s the limit.”

The free event will run Sundays at NewMakeIt from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., skipping holidays. Dates include March 20 and 27, April 3, 10, and 24, as well as May 1, 15, and 29.

Posted in News

Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilience Grant Recognition Event

OTF Recognition Event
Screenshot from Recognition Event with MPP Marit Stiles (Davenport)

Screenshot from Free Geek Toronto’s Recognition Event of Ontario Trillium Foundation’s support of our volunteer program. With the Trillium Foundation’s support, we were able to safely resume our volunteer program, getting people in to help us refurbish/repair the tech that has been donated.

We were honoured to have our MMP, Marit Stiles, attend the event and share words of encouragement for our project.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Free Geek Toronto over the past year.

Posted in News

Free Geek Toronto Volunteer Featured on CBC’s Marketplace Episode

Of the electronic devices used in Canada, LG smartphones are most likely to have broken over the last five years, a CBC Marketplace investigation reveals. More than 3,000 Canadians took part in the survey about smartphone, laptop and tablet breakdowns and repairs. Here’s how Apple, Samsung, HP, LG, and Acer devices rank when it comes to their lifespan and ability to be repaired.

To read more: http://www.cbc.ca/1.5860881

While not officially credited, our Executive Director, Ryan, volunteered to participate and was featured along with volunteers from Repair Cafe Toronto.


You can also watch YouTube repair expert Louis Rossmann critique Ryan’s work.

Posted in News, Video
Tagged with ,

Circular Economy in Action at the Local Level

The following case studies (printable version PDF) highlight small businesses and organizations in Toronto that are supporting the circular economy by using products and materials to their full potential, reducing the need for more raw materials to be extracted.

These businesses and organizations are growing the circular economy, increasing social prosperity and reducing environmental impacts by:

  • promoting sharing, repairing, and seeing value in spent material
  • increasing people’s access to reused, repaired, and/or sustainably sourced items
  • growing people’s capacity to advance the circular economy themselves (e.g. teaching skills for repair).

These case studies were produced by the City of Toronto in July of 2019.

Extending the life of electronics through refurbishment and resale

Free Geek Toronto collects and refurbishes used electronics that are destined for recycling or disposal and offers them for resale at an affordable price. As a not-for-profit employment social enterprise, Free Geek provides employment and training opportunities by offering experience in technical software, technology, communications, and customer service work. Free Geek advances Toronto’s circular economy by:

  • prioritizing reuse and refurbishment over recycling
  • providing capacity building for computer software and technology refurbishment and repair.

Notable numbers

  • 2,000 refurbished computers and devices
  • 75% of employees gained opportunities afterward
  • 5-8 job positions sustained over 4 years
  • 100 tonnes of e-waste recycled

Collaborators

Free Geek Toronto collaborates with local employment and social service agencies to help identify candidates who would benefit from its employment opportunities. It has received financial support in the form of grants and/or in-kind marketing through partners — such as the Toronto Enterprise Fund, The eBay Foundation and the Canadian Internet Registry Authority Community Fund — that has allowed it to continue to deliver its social and environmental mission.

A few words from Free Geek’s Executive Director

“As a not-for-profit social enterprise, Free Geek uses unwanted electronics to provide employment and training opportunities as well as access to affordable technology.”

– Ryan Fukunaga, Executive Director Free Geek Toronto

About Free Geek

As a certified electronics refurbisher and recycler in Ontario, Free Geek Toronto accepts donations of e-waste, such as laptops, desktops, amplifiers, cameras, cables, hard drives and monitors.

Free Geek securely wipes the data from the donated items and tests them before reselling them. Laptops and computers are refurbished and upgraded with up-to-date open-source software and operating systems in order to provide modern technology to customers at a low cost.

Refurbished equipment comes with a 30-day-limited hardware warranty. Other donated equipment that can be reused but is not refurbished, such as amplifiers, cameras, cables, hard drives and monitors, are sold in Free Geek Toronto’s thrift store ‘as is’.

Free Geek Toronto also has a Community Technology Hub, which provides free access to computers and the internet as well as access to tools for disassembling and repairing your own devices. It also offers workshops on basic digital literacy.

Free Geek’s circular economy future

Free Geek Toronto hopes to broaden its geographical reach through pop up-shops to provide access to technology to those who are unable to get to their downtown storefront. It is also hoping to expand the range of products it offers in its thrift shop to include used computers and electronic parts to enable others to repair and refurbish their own computers.

Posted in News
Tagged with ,

Free Geek Toronto announced as one of the eBay Foundation’s Global Give grant

The eBay Foundation marked its 20th anniversary this year by launching the Global Give, a reboot of the company’s employee-led grantmaking program.

Through Global Give, the Foundation challenged eBay employees to make their communities a better place—a place where entrepreneurs of all backgrounds are empowered to start and grow a business, and help create opportunity for all.

Hundreds of eBay, Classifieds, and StubHub employees from every region submitted proposals to support organizations that advance inclusive entrepreneurship. In addition, the teams shared plans for how they would also give their time and expertise to the organization to help further accelerate progress.

Winning teams will work with a wide range of entrepreneurs, including women, minority, veteran, refugee and immigrant, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented business owners, providing a wide variety of services, such as mentoring, project and business expertise, technology skills, legal and finance counsel, and marketing guidance.

Free Geek Toronto was selected as one of 30 organizations worldwide to receive funding. Free Geek Toronto aims to sustainably reuse technology to empower entrepreneurs. 

For a full list of the winners, check out the eBay Foundation’s website.

Posted in News