Help others while saving the planet

Help others while saving the planet

For ten years Computer Aid has provided PCs to the developing world and it has now set its most ambitious target yet, says Mark Samuels

In a business world driven by a desire to hype anything green, it is good to know that some initiatives are helping firms take direct action and create tangible benefits.

The best projects often pre-date the current green wash, such as recycling charity Computer Aid International, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday.

It has been a busy decade. Computer Aid has so far shipped more than 100,000 PCs to not-for-profit organisations in more than 100 developing countries.

The total is particularly impressive given that the media’s obsession with all things environmental has only gone stellar in the past 12 months.

Computing has developed a close working relationship with the charity. Between 2004 and 2006, we ran a nationally recognised campaign that encouraged users to donate end-of-life PCs ­ – and more than 50,000 computers were pledged.

In the intervening couple of years, IT directors have been bombarded with a series of regulatory and environmental concerns that have made Computer Aid’s activities seem even more tempting.

First, technology leaders face significant pressure to comply with environmental regulations, most notably the WEEE directive.

Second, a growing awareness of the role technology plays in rising carbon emission levels has led IT directors to source environmentally sensitive approaches.

So the time seems right for Computer Aid to garner support from an even wider pool of technology leaders.

To mark its tenth anniversary, the charity has launched its largest-ever appeal. It is asking UK businesses to donate 50,000 end-of-life PCs during 2008.

If that sounds like a tough call, remember that donations to the charity have already helped enrich education and improve medical care in the developing world.

Finally, spare a thought for Computing’s editor Bryan Glick, who has just spent 10 days cycling up and down the hills of Cuba on behalf of Computer Aid.

Glick joined publisher Robin Booth and recruitment sales manager Jonathan Cooney in a challenge that aimed to raise more than £40,000 to fund the distribution and setup of refurbished PCs.

Yet another example of Computer Aid and its supporters taking direct action and creating material benefits.