Sunday, October 3, 2010

Donating old digital cameras to support worthy causes

I have a slew of old digital cameras that are taking up space in my humble abode. The feeling I get from possessing unused things is a heavy weight. They take up space, and the space costs money to maintain. I believe in keeping a smaller number of possessions, if only to keep the clutter monster at arms length. But the question is how to properly dispose of the cameras.

But who would want an old digital camera? These cameras are still functional and useful, so it would be silly to just throw them away. Even if one of them were broken, these are electronics items and to be ecologically sound one must give them to an organization which will do the right thing.

Since these cameras are still good and useful it would be better to hand them over to someone who will put them to use. But these old cameras are not the new hotness cameras that are so much better that camera buyers are be looking. These old and tired cameras from previous years were good, in their day, but who would want them now. That's the way of modern electronics, isn't it, a rapid retirement of perfectly good widgets because newer ones have surpassed them. These cameras could be sold via eBay, but that's a bit of a hassle. I often give things to Goodwill or other charities but am concerned what Goodwill will actually do with them. Turns out there are some worthy charities who have interesting models to recycle old camera's into new uses.

I searched and found these following organizations. In each case their web sites claim to be running programs that funnel cameras to worthy causes. I sent emails to each one and they did not respond. Given the lack of response my cameras will be going either to Goodwill or one of the charities who use Recycling for Charities.

Photo Voice - http://www.photovoice.org/ - They focus on giving cameras to Palestinians and others who have traditionally been the focus of documentaries. It's a kind of turning the tables on the documentary world, giving cameras to those who normally are the subject of documentaries and ask them to produce their own documentation of their own life. Another catch phrase is "empower some of the most disadvantaged groups in the world with photographic skills so that they can transform their lives." And by "establishing in-field photojournalism workshops ... individuals find confidence in their voices and are enabled to speak out about their challenges, concerns, hopes and fears." Sounds great. They are a UK based charity.

Global Classroom Connection - http://www.classroom-connection.org/ - They aim to connect students around the world by pairing classrooms with peer classrooms in distant countries. With the increasing interconnectivity of the world it's vital that we and our children more deeply understand other cultures. A way of doing so is to connect children classroom to classroom. "By tapping into the vast social and economic network that is the internet, and familiarizing themselves with the technologies of the future, the youth of the world can better enable themselves to stride confidently into the 21st century." One method is with photography, and they assemble camera kits to send to "disadvantaged" classrooms. They are a US based charity located in Berkeley CA.

Lens of Vision and Expression - http://www.lensofvisionexpression.org/ - Their vision is "To transform the lives of marginalized children through creativity and to impact the attitude, beliefs and actions of others by providing a window into another world." They do this by providing "photography workshops to non-profit organizations that work with marginalized children." Donated camera's will be used in future training programs. They are a US based charity located in Aurora, IL.

Democracy Now - http://www.democracynow.org/get_involved/donate - the internationally acclaimed news program is continually asking for cameras and other equipment to help them produce the show. One occasionally finds other organizations like schools or wildlife clubs asking for camera donations that in turn are used in their programs.

The Sustainable Electronics Coalition at the Univ of Illinois has a long list of organizations involved with recycling or reusing electronics including digital cameras. http://www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu/resources/resources.cfm?i=21&s=78 The U.S. EPA has a similar list Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products? http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm

Eco Squid - http://ecosquid.com - 1800recycling - http://1800recycling.com - are search engines for recycling programs.

Recycling For Charities - http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/ - This is a "donate for charity" organization that puts a recycling spin on it. As they say the best form of recycling is reuse, so they determine among the donated goods which are worthy of reuse and find places to sell the usable items (such as via eBay). The money raised from the sales is what's donated to charities. Hence they cannot guarantee what the reuse of the camera is, only that money flows to charitable organizations. Charities in turn are enlisted to put banners on their sites saying "Donate old cell phones etc to fund charity".