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Storage and Recycling of Media

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

My family is in an uproar – especially the over 40 crowd. They are heartbroken that their old slides, videos, and the like are heading to the landfill. What can I do to reduce their angst but still reduce our accumulation?


Progress not Regress

Dear PR:

Ever-changing technology creates a ‘crisis of conversion.’ I often recommend that owners of media first determine which images or sounds they want to share with others or to pass on to their descendents. Once what to keep is identified, it becomes easier to decide in what form to preserve those images.

Transferring No-Longer-Used Media

There are companies that do photo scanning, sound conversion, film conversion. There are preservationists who can restore photographs or salvage film. You can now arrange for the transfer of materials to a computer file, CD, DVD, thumb drive, social media website, ipods, etc.

The costs of scanning and conservation are based on the quantity of images preserved. The “collection” can then be duplicated and provided to everyone in your family. You can retain the originals for future generations to view.

You may also consider creating a “book” of these images. There are many on-line publishers who can create a personalized book with your imagery including:

  • Recent Photos, negatives
  • Historical, family lineage photos
  • Photos in albums
  • Images from Videos
  • Slides
  • Historical/family documents

Another option is “cloud computing” where you upload all the images to a site that is then accessible to anyone you choose.

No matter what process you choose to transfer the images you want to retain, there will be costs in terms of time and money. You will still need to review all the material and make the “keep or go” decisions before determining the best approach.

However, being able to share your fondest memories and your family history may be worth the investment. (Not to mention the reduction in guilt.)

Storage for No-Longer-Used Media

If you are unwilling or unable to have the images you cherish transferred to current media or if you prefer to view the material on the original machinery, you must provide a dust free, climate controlled space to store both machines and media. Remember: There are very few repair shops that deal with older media so you may have to stockpile bulbs, small parts, etc in order to maintain the machines.

Before paying for storage for your no-longer-used media, ask yourself again:

How important are these images and to whom?

And then ask yourself:

Does transferring to a newer media change the value of the image?

Recycling No-Longer-Used Media

Everyone wants to be good to Mother Earth. Often we retain a great deal of “dead” electronic detritus because we do not know how to recycle it. For many years, one of the only options was to mail your items to a processing center in middle America. Most of us were unwilling to expend the funds to ship a computer across the country where it could be dismantled. Fortunately, there are more options closer to home. Many local landfills now provide e-cycling. There are also companies that provide e-cycling services. Check for resources near your home. Here are some resources

Data destruction and de-installation services in the USA.

Battery recycling

  • Battery Warehouse, Westminster, Maryland
  • Home Depot or Lowe’s

Cell phones

  • Call local women shelters, sheriff or police departments. Can be reprogrammed with 911 for use by those who might need protection.

Ink Cartridges

  • Return to Staples for credit.
  • HP accepts them in special mailers.

CD disks and jewel cases

  • Use disks in gardens like scare crows to keep birds and rabbits away.
  • Jewel cases can be used as mite catchers in bee hives.

However, what to do with the doo dads and dead media will always be an issue until our buying habits demand that the open loop system becomes a closed loop system. There are many organizations working on solutions such as Earth911.com that delivers actionable local information on recycling and product stewardship that empowers consumers to act locally, live responsibly and contribute to sustainability.

According to Sarah O’Brien, director of outreach and communication for the Green Electronics Council, consumers should look for three major points: energy efficiency, takeback options and recycled content.

Consumers can access this information on the EPEAT website. EPEAT is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, workstations and computer monitors.

Jo the Clutterbuster is collecting information on e-cycling to share with clients. Feel free to email her with your ideas and resources using the Contact form.