On Tuesday I went to the DigitalLife press preview. Besides all the cool gadgets and tech toys, there was something that caught my eye. A table was setup by eBay to promote their Rethink Initiative. The amount of waste being generated by old computers and electronics is enormous. And eBay has partnered with dozens of companies to address the problem.

While I am all for ecological awareness and recycling, I was shocked by eBay's presentation. Their Rethink site lists the option of selling your old electronics first, ahead of donating or recycling. With a program about recycling, shouldn't that be suggested first? And at DigitalLife with the post card about the Rethink Initiative they handed out fact-sheets about the high volume of electronics auctions.

The socially conscious side of me is glad to see there is a Rethink Initiative, but the cynical side of me finds eBay's tactics somewhat underhanded. Masquerading a marketing promotion as an ecological program would be wrong. It is great if a company is going green, but couldn't they be more sincere about it? It could be worse, I suppose, they could be doing nothing. What is your opinion on the Rethink Initiative and eBay's strategy?

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  • Bob Watkins

    I disagree as well. People often forget that "Recycle" is the last of a trilogy of R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Selling the item so that it can continue its useful life should take priority over recycling.

  • Rex Hammock

    I, too, am missing your point. Being "green" does not mean one must donate something to a charity (although that is a fine thing to do). And when did selling something mean it can't be considered recycling? -- When I was a kid, I'd go looking for returnable bottles for the deposit change...and isn't that the idea behind paying folks for aluminum cans, etc. It may sound more touchy-feely to encourage people to donate their old electronics to some cause, but if it extends the life of that technology to "sell" it, the ecological benefit is the same.

  • Brian

    I actually think they got it right. Even better then recycling something is to have it still in use (by selling it.) Even when you recycle an old computer, there are still left over parts. But when you resell it, the whole thing is still being used.

  • Peter Rees


    You lost me. The Rethink Initiative and eBay are extending a service carried in most community newspapers - where folks can sell their old computers and components.

    Once again eBay offers a larger audience for those goods.

    I don't see the masquerade or lack of sincerity. What I do see is a move to be proactive and source these goods? What's next ... gov't vehicles? Office furniture?

  • william

    what is my incentive to donate rather than try and recoup some dollar amount from what I got? What is the greater benefit in donating unless the amount credited toward my account is greater through the local charity/neighborhood kid/small business rather than selling it via electronic internet.