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.

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