There are many people out there tossing perfectly good electronics into the trash every day and don't even realised it. Unfortunately for the environment, the cost of labour has reached a point where people are throwing things out not realizing just how easy or inexpensive it might be to trying to fix it.

Once something has reached the point where I am ready to get rid of it because it doesn't work, I have nothing to loose by trying to fix it. Worst case scenario is that I will open it up, and have an opportunity for me and my kids to see how things work. This is my contribution to reducing environmental waste. I have fixed things I never thought possible simply because I took a chance.

CASE #1: Broken and Slow Computer… not!

A few months ago my wife's 7 year old notebook was having so many performance issues, hardware failures and software problems that I decided to replace it. I felt it was important since all our business is on that computer. It took a few days to get all the software setup and configured, printers installed, devices attached and data transferred over. Once I was sure that there was nothing left of value on the computer, I used the System Recovery partition to take the computer back to its original factory configuration.

I was amazed by the results. The sound started working again and the DVD drive, which had not worked in years, started working again. What I believed was a defect in her external computer monitor obviously turned out to be a problem a sofware problem since it went away after re-installing Windows XP. It looked exactly as if the liquid in the LCD screen had started to fall from the top of the screen. The computer was now able to start-up in under a minute where it had taken up to 5 minutes before and the power management, which had not worked in years started working again. Up to that point I believed that the computer was too slow to watch videos but even that issue went away as if by magic. Of course it is not the fastest computer in the world for playing games but the kids love using it to do their homework as it is now a stable and reliable computer.

Case #2: Super slow computer gathering dust… not anymore!

When a friend of mine recently told me that he decided to replace his laptop with a tablet, I asked him what he was going to do with his old 8 year old one. He made it clear that he indented on putting it out with the trash the following week. So I suggested he take a chance and restore the hard drive back to its factory configuration. About 20 minutes later, he could not believe how fast his computer was. It took him a few days to set it all up again, install all the security patches, install essential software like anti-virus, MS Office, printer drivers, etc. and  but he now had a very usable computer that booted up in less than 60 seconds where it was previously taking 10 minutes! I understand that his wife now uses the computer regularly and is very happy with it.

Case #3: High end gaming computer for the cost of a power supply!

My daughters boyfriend recently pulled a computer out of someone's trash on garbage night. Now before you go judging, it looked almost brand new. Based on the high end parts he found inside the computer, he believes it could not be more than 3 years old. The owners were probably discarding it because it kept crashing. With a replaced power supply, he is now the proud owner of an excellent gaming computer.

Case #4: Printer gets a 10 year extension on it's life!

WARNING: Be extremely careful with devices that have high voltages such as TV's and monitors with picture tubes, laser printers and microwave ovens. Always disconnect electonic or electrical devices completely before sticking your fingers in it. Don't just turn them off. Be aware that some devices may keep an electrical charge even after it has been disconnected which can be harmful or even fatal. You may experience a painful electrical shock in other electrical devices. If in doubt, ask someone for help and/or advice. If you depend on a pacemaker or other electrical or electronic device for your health, don't even take a chance. Never work with electonic or electrical devices near water or other wet surfaces.

In all the repairs I have done over the years, I have only electrocuted myself once when I stuck my hand into a high voltage area without unplugging the printer. No regrets though. It's been about 10 years since I fixed it and it is still going strong with the help of parts I picked up on eBay. I am often amazed at how I manage to repair some stuff. Had I not taken a chance on the printer, it would have definitely gone in the garbage.

Funny Story: No major appliances for our landfills today!

My wife always has mixed feelings every time I manage to fix the stove, fridge, dishwasher, washer, dryer and vacuum cleaner yet again. She is worried that she will never be able to get any new appliances for the rest of her life. Had it not been for me taking a chance, surely we would have been on our third set of appliances by now. The only comfort I can offer her is that the parts for our appliances will eventually be discontinued at which time I will feel good about having kept these out of landfills as long as I did.

Do you lead an environmentally conscious life? How do you keep your money from going down the drain and out into the landfills?

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