Home Computing Halton Tech for Teens restores computers, reduces environmental impact

Halton Tech for Teens restores computers, reduces environmental impact

Mike Benninger likes to tinker, to fix up old computers and to give them a second lease on life. 

In 2018, Benninger came up with the idea to use his skills to help others, and co-founded Halton Tech for Teens a few years later. To date, he and the team have donated more than 300 computers to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access one.

Halton Tech for Teens provides computers or laptops to kids in need, by taking old computers, wiping them clean and upgrading the software when needed, and then giving them to teens for free.

“The pandemic did not treat everyone equally,” Benninger said. “The poorest got screwed over harder, and those that already had money went to their cottages or worked from home. And it hasn’t gotten a whole lot better.”

He added that many of those who could not afford the internet at the start of 2020 likely still can’t afford it now. Approximately 10 per cent of Canadians did not have access to the internet in 2022, according to Stats Canada. 

Benninger gets used laptops that are only a few years old, installs a new hard drive, and gives them a quick wipe with some Lysol before providing them to students or newcomers to Canada. 

“Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine happened, I had been approached by some organizations to find devices for newcomers,” Benninger said. “Back then, it was more Somalians and Ethiopians, but when the invasion happened there was a migration of people, and it became a priority.” 

Providing devices to people in need is only half the game, however. Keeping perfectly good devices out of the landfill, and lowering the demand to build new devices is just as important. It’s something he’d like to see others doing in cities across Canada.

Newer devices are faster and larger, but are not nearly as repairable as devices made just a few years prior. New devices have components soldered in place, making them impossible to remove without breaking something. 

“If your MacBook is from 2021 onward, with Apple Silicone as they call it, it’s not upgradable,” Benninger said. 

He added that it’s possible that newer computers will last longer, but without the repairability factor they eventually will die. 

There is a balance between finding a product that is reliable now, versus one that will be reliable and upgradable down the line. Finding a way to keep people using the same device may not be in the best interest of manufacturers, but for consumers who spend upwards of $1,000 on a computer, making it last is important. 

“It’s about 500 pounds of waste produced to create a new laptop, between mining, transportation, and all else the carbon footprint is approximately 500 pounds per device,” Benninger said. “We are always going to be making new things – new cars, new dishwashers, new fridges. We’re a consumer-based society.”

For further details, visit haltontechforteens.ca.


 

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