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From motherboards to FBI phones, Green Century finds new life for old gadgets

There’s Silicon Valley in San Francisco and Silicon Alley in New York City, but tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, Portland’s Silicon Forest draws its own oddball collection of makers, tinkerers and visionaries. In our new video series, Got it Made, join host Ezra Cimino-Hurt as he meets some of the unique people who marry cutting edge tech with innovative ideas in the city “where young people go to retire.” And believe us, they’re doing Portland proud.

Meet Larry Christopher Regis of Green Century. He calls himself a garbageman, but really, more of a “Star Wars garbageman.” That’s because his job consists of combing through all the electronics that you’ve decided you no longer want. The team at Green Century spends its days recycling and refurbishing electronics, and describes their “office” as a sort of high-tech junkyard. After all, the company says, “most computers and computer related items are still working and may meet the needs of many people,” so if it ain’t broke, why throw it away completely?

Today, Regis tells us, “We’re obsoleting electronics faster than ever.” For example, he notes, whereas the lifespan of a phone was 24 months just a few years ago, today, it’s closer to 12. And this high turnover rate leads to a whole lot of discarded electronics, from cellphones to laptops to, well, dildos. “You name it, we’ve seen it,” Regis said. Even cellphones used by the FBI in terrorist negotiations have found their way to this particular recycling plant in southwest Portland.

“We triage everything as it comes in,” Regis tells us, in order to determine whether or not a product can be reused. After all, Green Century believes in keeping items alive for as long as possible.

So the next time you’re thinking about doing away with that old tablet or PC, consider giving it a second chance at life at Green Century.