Recycling Your Laptop With REcompute

This blog post, which Salt & Light kindly allows me to include here, will describe what inspired me to start REcompute, the project created to recycle old laptops, make tech more widely available, and keep old machines out of the landfill.

I knew a young fella who had not had much experience with computers, and getting one into his possession revealed a latent talent of his for programming, which he developed, and, to cut a long story short, enabled him to attend college to obtain a degree which has now afforded him a high-powered programming job in a large city, with wonderful prospects.

This got me thinking. After 25+ years in the mostly web- and programming-related computer business, I figured out a way to ‘give back.’

There are many older laptops sitting on basement shelves and in company stockrooms, discarded because they no longer run Windows efficiently, no longer serve a corporate purpose, or because they have been replaced with the ‘latest and greatest.’

These laptops can be brought back to life by wiping them clean and installing the Linux operating system, which runs very well on older laptops with lower specifications. (And even better on newer ones!)

What if I could get people and companies to donate these laptops, so I could wipe them clean and install Linux to bring them back to life? And then distribute them to folks who otherwise might find it difficult to obtain their own computer? Who knows the talents that could be developed once the right tool is in the right hands? Not only that, but include more people in the experience of the internet, the World Wide Web, social media, and other digital disciplines that have so changed the entire world?

Thus was born REcompute.

REcompute started modestly, with a small website – – and pleas for donations through my personal social media and on local community social media sites. These initial pleas also reached a couple of corporate donors, who, eager to share REcompute’s mission, have donated many laptops, some of which have already been distributed to grateful recipients.

After approaching a couple of local non-profits, who expressed interest but regretfully did not have the manpower to help, I met with Lisa Sheltra at Salt & Light. The project grabbed her imagination and I am happy to say that S&L agreed to be a location where donors can safely drop off their laptops.

The volunteers at S&L’s computer lab have done a magnificent job in creating a computer literacy course, which potential recipients will have to complete in order to be eligible to receive a laptop. As this is a volunteer project, I wanted to be assured that no money would change hands, and Lisa explained that recipients would have a level of investment in their laptop, and therefore some value, in completing such a course, in order to receive a laptop. I happily agreed.

We have already given away five laptops to recipients – a small start to be sure – but with more awareness, community involvement, and of course donations from people, local groups, and companies, we see this project growing and fulfilling its mission. Indeed, an associate of mine has expressed interest in extending REcompute to Los Angeles – it is a project that can work anywhere!

Please drop by and have a look at the website – – all the information is there about what we can and cannot accept and what measures we take to protect the privacy and security of laptop donors, and you can find out much more about the Linux operating system. (Which is very user-friendly, and free!) Or, you can email me directly at if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Mark Atkinson


  1. There are many older laptops sitting on basement shelves and in the company, stockroom laptops can be brought back to life by wiping them clean and installing the Linux operating system

  2. I have friends in church members who must have the latest and the greatest I’m sure I could round up computers for you I live in Florida and would have to touch base with you to find out what to do I’m going on your site now to see what you will and will not accept looking forward to making a good donation

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