We are Borrow Don't Buy, and we want to make sure that everyone can get online.
We take donations of older technology and refurbish and repair them. We box them up, (better than new) and then working with partners all across Plymouth, we give them away to people who need them.
About The Project
Borrow Don’t Buy, Plymouths Library of Things was shut during the Covid-19 period but continued to push the sharing agenda in other ways by partnering with local community builders Nudge to bring upcycled tech to people who really need it. When Wendy Hart from Nudge contacted Borrow Don’t Buy to ask if they could help them, to help the people of Plymouth, and the answer, was of course a resounding yes!
Since then, Plymouth community helpers have been collecting up unused and dusty laptops, smartphones, and tablets from kind people around Plymouth and delivering them to the fixer elves at Borrow Don’t Buy so they can be given a new lease of life.
The repair team (which consists of some of the same people that help out at Borrow Don’t Buys repair cafes) spend hours ensuring each piece of technology is thoroughly inspected and cleaned (physically and digitally), upgraded, (using second-hand parts where possible) before having all new software installed. When the team is satisfied that the item is in good working order and it has been safety tested, the community helpers collect it back up and work with Nudge and other community organisations to find local people that are struggling in the new online world of physical distance, lockdown and home education.
Do you want to support the project but don’t have devices to donate? You can still help out donating money that is used to buy the spare bits needed to refurbish the devices. Use our link here:
WHY OUR WORK IS IMPORTANT
Access To The Internet Is a Basic Human Right.
According to a recent report, 78% of people said contacting people via digital tech online was a key factor in coping during the COVID-19 crisis. Yet digital inequality is rife in poorer parts of society – we had reports of families who were trying to home educate with only one smartphone between three children. Marsha de Cordova, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, recently called for the government to take action to reduce the inequality of provisions in phone and Internet service during the crisis. And we agree, but here at Borrow Don’t Buy we believe in a sharing economy, in community, and in kindness. Which is why we’re running this fantastic project!
We Also Believe…
We Should All Take Steps To Reduce our Waste.
Many people have devices sitting around at home that are too good to be recycled, or contain sensitive data that needs to be wiped. We solve these problems by securely erasing and replacing old hard disks with SSD’s and getting those devices fixed up and back into use. The longer these devices stay out of landfill or recyclers, the more they return the investment of raw materials that were used in their making. Of course, we recycle our waste too but only for items that absolutely cannot be used anywhere else. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?
When you donate your items to us, we go through a meticulous process to assess what work needs to be done to the device and how much it might cost to put it back into use. We weigh these costs against the likely future lifespan of the device and how useful and useable it might be to its next loving owner. Even if a device is beyond economical repair we may still be able to find a use for it. We have listed some possible outcomes in our order of preference so you can see how we roll!
Giving your device a new hard drive, battery, keyboard or extra memory may well bring it back to life and make it useful for someone else! We want to make sure that the new owner will have plenty of time to enjoy their new piece of tech so we work extra hard to fix all those problems.
Occasionally we are given something that isn’t useful for getting people online or that is worth a tidy sum. When this happens we may sell the item on (putting it back into use) but we put 100% of the profits back into buying spares for other devices.
Even broken devices (as long as they aren’t too old) can be useful to repair other devices. You would be surprised how many of your model of device are out there! We do mostly want good quality, trouble free devices but let us know what you have, you never know how useful it could be to someone!
Your old devices are doing no good sat in the cupboard! Give them to us, and even if we can’t use them, we will find someone who can or recycle the raw materials, so they go back into use another way.
Once we have collected an item and we know it is a solid candidate for refurbishment we go through the following process to make sure that it is ready to go out to its new owner. This can sometimes take a long time as parts for older machines can be hard to come by and our team have a lot on their plate making sure as little goes to waste as possible but rest assured we will get to you, as long as we have devices available!
- CLEAN: We clean the device, and we clean the data. Really gold second-hand hard drives are reused after a complete secure data wipe, but in most cases, we destroy the old drive and use an SSD to make it faster.
- REPAIR/UPGRADE: Replacing the parts that are broken can be expensive, so we try to focus our efforts on the best devices. If you have something with a bad battery, broken hard drive, screen, or keyboard. We can probably fix it.
- CLEAN AGAIN: To make sure we minimise our risk of transferring unwanted germs (we are looking at you Covid-19, if that is your real name…) We clean everything twice using alcohol. Better safe than sorry!
- SAFETY TEST: It is super important that the refurbished devices are safe to use, so we have a qualified electrician check and certify every used device, and where something was dangerous, we replace it with another. We try to buy used parts where possible to reduce our impact on the environment, but never at the cost of safety.
- REPACK: Using recycled card and paper from companies that are employee-owned, we repack the devices and attach stickers to the box to let our partners know exactly what’s in the box, and who it would be good for. It’s a bit like the wand shop in Harry Potter….
- DELIVER: If you have applied directly to us then we will drop off your device to you directly. But, we are working with partners across the city who can also help you to get your hands on one. Have a look at our partner’s section and see if you see any names you recognise.
Donate A Device
Below are the types of devices we would love to have donated. If the item has a green box under it, go ahead and fill in the form. These are things we are always after! If the box is yellow, then have a read of the text to see if what you have is what we are after. If it isn’t clear, then get in touch anyway and we can talk it over with you. Lastly, if the box under the item is red, then we aren’t taking donations of that device type at the moment. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever again, just that we are full at the moment! Why not check back in a week or two and see if the status has changed.
Get in Touch
We are fully stocked
If after reading all of that you are still keen to donate one or more of your old devices (Hint: It is much more efficient if you talk to friends, neighbours and family to pool your unwanted devices for us to collect), then use the form below to tell us what it is you have and, as much detail as possible. Things like “I dropped it in the sea” or “my dog ate it” are really good ways for us to assess if we can take the device and put it to good use. Sadly, we can’t take your waste electrical items away for you as it costs us money to get rid of them. Even if we can’t taken them, please make sure you recycle them responsibly!
Request A Device
Would you like us to send you a device? Would you like us to send someone you know a device? We understand it can be difficult to ask for things sometimes so if you pop your details in the form below we will be in touch with a very short application process (we have to do this to make sure that the devices go to the most in need first as we don’t have an unlimited supply!) If you prefer to use a paper form, just let us know below and we can get one to you. There are no strings, we don’t check up on you and we trust that you will make the best of your new device. It won’t cost you a penny, but it could mean the world!
The work we have been doing would not have been possible without the support, collaboration, advice and funding of the organisations below. We really are so grateful that they have enabled us to make a small change in the world.
Do You Want To Partner With Us?
If your group or business is in regular contact with people who have difficulty in accessing the internet or difficulty in accessing technology in general, then get in touch. We would love to talk about working together to get these amazing devices into the hands of people who really need them. We are particularly interested in helping children who cannot do school work, older people who are missing out on the benefits of online communications and service provision or just about anyone else who you think could benefit. We don’t want to be decision maker on who gets the devices, we trust you know your communities better than we do and would love to help you, help them.
Refurbished so far!
Can you repair my laptop/phone/tablet for me please?
The answer to this, is maybe. We aren’t a full service repair shop and so you may be better off going to one of them. But, if you want to support the project by paying us to look at your device then we would be happy to do so. Get in touch with us using the form below.
How do I know my data will be securely erased?
In short, you don’t. However, we take our responsibilities regarding your data very seriously. If the drive is old or unusable, we destroy it and recycle the parts. If it is good enough to be reused, we completely overwrite the drives with fake data to effectively shred the device. We might do this once, twice, or even three times!
I changed my mind about giving you my device, but you already have it, what can I do?
We are afraid that there isn’t much we can do. Once you have signed over your device then we will get straight to work. If its an emergency please feel free to get in touch and we will try to help you, but we don’t record who donated which device in our records for data protection reasons. Sorry!
How much does it cost to refurbish a device?
It depends on the device. It costs us between £10 for a phone all the way up to £200 for a good laptop depending on the amount of work and damage that the item has. We typically would spend a little more to get a device back up and running than a commercial repair shop would because we want to see as many devices back in use as possible.
What operating systems do you use on refurbished devices?
In short, it depends. Some older operating systems aren’t supported any more and are at risk from virus attacks if they go online. We don’t want that so we may change the operating system on the devices. The chart below should help give you an idea of what we change, and what we leave alone..
|Supplied Operating System||Refurbished Operating System|
|Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Windows 8/8.1||Windows 10|
|Windows 7||Windows 10|
|Windows Vista/XP, MIllenium||Linux – Zorin OS Core or Lite depending on the processor.|
|Mac OS||Older Mac Os’ are replaced with Elementary OS and newer ones are replaced with the same Mac OS|
If a device has a windows 7 /8 or 10 operating system on it, we will always try to install windows 10. Much of the time a device will activate and be registered with Microsoft with no trouble at all, but if we can’t activate Windows with a valid serial number, we will replace it with a suitable Linux distribution.
Why do you use second hand parts?
We don’t always, but we do where it makes sense. We want to make sure our impact on the planet is as small as possible and if we can do that by using second hand parts and spares to get devices back into use, then it is a double win! Sometimes it isn’t worth using second hand parts, like batteries, but for many other things it is a great way to reduce costs and make sure the devices that have already been made, have the longest useful live possible.
Get In Touch
If you would like to talk to about anything at all, please use the form below. We would love to hear from anyone who would like to learn more about the project, donate, support or partner with the project and anyone who can help us share our message to increase our impact. We would also love to hear from you if you want to volunteer for the project! Get in touch!