Recycle's Friend, Reuse

Recycling is something we all deal with, or at least should deal with, when it comes to technology. Old computers, monitors, motherboards and their ilk are full of toxic chemicals that must be disposed of properly. Thankfully, “Being Green” is a trend that hasn't really lost any steam. As technologists, we understand the need to use less power, recycle old technology and make wise purchasing decisions when it comes to hardware. And, we shouldn't forget recycle's buddies reduce and reuse either.

With modern virtualization, it's possible to reduce the number of servers we need to buy. Add to that the reduction in power usage with low-power CPUs, and it's relatively easy to reduce the amount of waste in our server rooms. Unfortunately, it doesn't eliminate the problem completely. That's where reuse comes into play. In the photo, you'll see a clock I received as a Christmas gift. It's simply the circuit board from some sort of router that has “clock guts” added to it. Geeky yes, but if it's stuck on my wall, it's one fewer piece of computer scrap in a landfill.

No, reusing old technology like this won't solve our technology waste problem, but every little bit helps. Plus, items like my picture frame made from old 30-pin SIMM memory chips make for great conversation pieces. How have you reused technology in nontraditional ways? Send a photo to, and I'll post some of them online. Perhaps we'll all get some gift ideas for the next holiday season!


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Anonymous's picture

That ain't reuse. That is repurpose. Reuse would mean to use it traditionally. If it's broken dispose of it at recyclers and ask to be payed for the trash.

Nice clock , but i won't put something like that on the wall.

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bnofd8as9's picture

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Service is our Lift.

enjoy yourself.

thank you!!


Internet Firewall Router

BG's picture

I use old machines as internet firewall routers. Currently using an old AMD K6-2 350MHz with 320MB RAM and two 10/100 NICs. I alternate between IPCop and Smoothwall.

And I've used hardware even older than this.

The beauty is that despite the hardware being old it still has way more horsepower than a typical residential router and can better handle more simultaneous connections and throughput. And after setup you can disconnect the monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc and just let it sit there and do its thing routing packets. Any configuration adjustments can be performed through a web browser just like a conventional router.

Drive Plater Coasters

hurt138's picture

Harddrive Platters make pretty nice looking coasters. :)

Reuse recycle awesome

MyHair's picture

For me , reuse and recycle could help in protecting our environment.. What Shawn said is true.. it cant solve technology waste problem but it can reduce it effect ... imagine if all people do reuse , our world would be a better greener world t live.. don't you want that??

That clock is awesome!

J. E. Aneiros's picture

That clock is awesome!

The Heise magazin form

Sash's picture

The Heise magazin form germany has started a similar projekt called "Mach flott den Schrott".
Users made an line following robot out of 2 cd-drives, an battery and 2 sensors.

If you´re interested keep an eye on
They will publish new reuse projekts every 2 weeks


Anonymous's picture

I work in a small non-profit agency that amongst other things offers public access internet.

We had a not all that old Pentium 4 computer that had run Windows XP and was completely hosed with malware.

It had been taken out of service to be fixed but sat in a closet for over a year gathering dust.

It was time to re-do an old static website and so I turned it into a "development" web server. I installed Ubuntu Server, Apache, MySQL, PHP and Wordpress and this machine was very much up to the task.

I also felt good about finally getting my organization's first GNU/Linux computer up and running!


J. E. Aneiros's picture


thank you

voyances's picture

Frankly you're great for making a site like this, you are a wonderful sharing of ideas and thank you very much

The power consumption of

Anonymous's picture

The power consumption of older hardware makes it expensive to use. Better buy the latest relatively power efficient hardware: it will run at better than half cost.

But the problem of disposing

J. E. Aneiros's picture

But the problem of disposing the old hardware is still there.

Indeed it is...but why

Anonymous's picture

Indeed it is...but why consume more power than "necessary". Postponing the inevitable only buys more time.

No offense intended, but we

Anonymous's picture

No offense intended, but we should reuse technology in a traditional way wherever possible. I would consider it as wasteful as throwing it out to use a perfectly good piece of hardware as a backplate for a clock or a pretty picture frame. If it's broken, that's better, but that's only delaying the problem (it will eventually get thrown out), not fixing it. We could use a little more focus on reusing parts instead of endlessly developing new stuff and pushing on everybody who has already got working hardware.