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A worker pours rare earth metal Lanthanum into a mould near the town of Damao, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS
A worker pours rare earth metal Lanthanum into a mould near the town of Damao, in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS

Without elements known as rare earth metals, our computers would still be the size of a classroom.

The 17 elements at the bottom of the periodic table known as rare earth metals possess properties necessary for making technology lighter, faster and smarter. Rare earth metals are used to make light bulbs, cell phones, electric cars, MRI machines, camera lenses, and other technology.

Although rare earth metals are critical in the technology we use every day, mining and processing these metals is extremely hazardous to the environment. It is important to reuse and recycle electronics in order to lessen the demand for these minerals.

Currently, 97% of rare earth elements are mined and processed in China, where environmental regulations are lenient and mining has led to environmental degradation. Most of the metals are extracted in open pit mines, which can release radiation, dust and metal into the environment.

Once metals are mined, they need to be refined and separated from ore material. This process requires large amounts of corrosive acids and carcinogenic toxins. Oftentimes, metals are laced with radioactive materials from the earth’s core, and the refining process releases these materials. Because of these factors, processing one ton of rare earth metals produces about 2,000 tons of toxic waste.

Toxic waste can enter air, ground and water around refining and mining sites. Once waste has been released into the environment, it is extremely hard to remove and can endanger all organisms in the area. Mining and refining have contaminated soil and water supplies of nearby communities, slowly poisoning residents and their livestock. Toxic mine runoff also threatens to seep into China’s Yellow River, a major supplier of drinking water for the northern provinces.

Although other nations have begun efforts to mine in a less toxic way, the mining process continues to be arduous and hazardous to the environment. It is important to lessen the demand on rare earth metals as much as possible to prevent more metals from being mined.

Although scientists are still researching ways to recycle rare earth metals, one way to reduce demand is reusing electronics. It is important to recycle old electronics as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that they can be refurbished.

By purchasing refurbished electronics, we can reuse technology, reducing the need to mine rare earth metals. At Tech Discounts, we sell quality refurbished and vintage electronics, allowing you to purchase quality electronics while reducing environmental impact and creating jobs for adults with barriers to employment.

Technology has changed the way we live and do business, but now that we’re all dependent on electronics, progress comes at a steep price. As your old computers break or become obsolete, you can’t always afford to invest in a brand new replacement. Fortunately for you, we collect working computers and other electronics through Tech Dump’s electronics recycling program. When you buy refurbished electronics from Tech Discounts, everyone wins:

Save money

This one’s a no-brainer. Simply opening the packaging will lower a computer’s resale value, so when you buy a very gently used electronic, you’re benefiting from someone else’s investment. Our tested, refurbished electronics are much more affordable than unopened originals, but many of them are just as powerful.

Protect the environment

Manufacturing, packaging and transporting electronics is a very energy-intensive process. When you skip the electronics stores and buy a product that’s already in circulation, you spare the planet from unnecessary greenhouse gases and reduce the demand for synthetic, non-biodegradable materials.

Electronic waste is an environmental nightmare, but it’s also an unnecessary waste, because many old computers have parts that still work in newer models. When you take advantage of that, it’s a win-win for you and the planet!

Create jobs

We’re proud that our electronics recycling program helps protect the planet’s future, but our employees’ futures matter just as much. In fact, we qualify as a 501c3 nonprofit organization because of our efforts to employ and train people who would otherwise struggle to find work. We’re not just giving electronics a second chance; we’re also giving hard-working adults a second chance to succeed in life.

Get top brands

Don’t underestimate the value of a reused computer. Refurbished doesn’t mean second-best, so we carry all the top technology brands. As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher, we offer huge savings on computers, tablets, and more. That means discounts for you, the customer, but it also proves we know our way around a computer.

Know what to expect

We have hundreds of desktop and laptop computers, and full transparency is part of the deal. We provide detailed information about its features, imperfections, operating system and any recent upgrades. You’ll know exactly what to expect.  Support electronics recycling and buy one of our refurbished computers today.