I Generate Far Too Much e-Waste

Ransom Riggs

I don't know about you, but I'm a guy who fancies himself fairly savvy when it comes to resisting the Pavlovian lure of consumerism; I can walk through a mall for two hours without purchasing a single thing, flip through a copy of Skymall without once imagining one of its products enhancing my life and feel no urge to open my wallet when I hear Christmas music. There is one siren song, however, that I can't resist: that of the shiny, new (likely Apple-branded) electronic gadget.

For instance: my phone is fine. I have seven months left on my Sprint plan. Yet I find myself lingering over apple.com/iphone, imagining what my life would be like if I could surf YouTube from anywhere I wanted. At this rate, before long I'll have two or three old cellphones I couldn't bring myself to throw away moldering in drawers, along with a Palm Pilot or two, at least one portable video game system, an old CRT monitor, a 486 PC from 1994, a 40gb hard drive, and God knows what else. And the pile just keeps getting bigger.

LifeHacker, however, has heard my plight (and that of my wallet), and has a number of suggestions for the chronic e-waster. Namely, ways in which you can recycle, revamp and reuse your old devices without having to throw them away or buy new ones. For instance:

"¢ Before you toss that old iPod into a drawer in favor of a shiny new Touch or Nano, check out this list of handy iPod applications that just might breathe a little added functionality into your trusty old jogging partner you didn't realize it had. (Hey, it's given you so much, it's time to give back.)

"¢ Convert your old wireless router into a communications powerhouse by installing this Linux firmware -- it'll boost your WiFi signal bigtime, giving you expensive router performance at no added cost.

"¢ Instead of buying a new computer -- which I'm lamentably tempted to do every time my current Mac takes too long to load Photoshop or runs out of hard drive space -- try a few simple things first.
- Add hard drive space. Running out of space is the number one complaint given by people who go looking for a new computer, but hard drive space is getting cheaper all the time. You can buy an external drive on the cheap, or an internal drive for even less and install it yourself.
- Upgrade your RAM. More RAM -- and faster RAM -- can mean dramatic improvements in system speed you never imagined possible. Try it before you ditch the old compy.
- Make more room on your hard drive. The number one computer mistake I see people making -- even extremely computer-savvy 3D animator friends of mine, among others -- is running their hard drives at near-capacity. Your system will run faster if you've got 10% or so of your hard drive freed up.

Anybody got any tips on how to solve the biggest problem -- resisting the lure of the new and shiny?