Electronics Recycling--Save the Planet, Make Some Cash
For many faith communities--and other groups--financial concerns keep them from "going green" as much as they would like.
With grants, rebates and other incentives becoming harder to find, lack of finances can be a large barrier to groups struggling to balance a budget, never mind find money to invest in energy efficiency.
Fortunately, there is a way to do both--to go green and make some extra cash. That way is electronics recycling.
This is a great project for most faith communities, because it both promotes recycling and generates income that can be put towards other great causes.
We know that making electronic devices consumes many different materials, including rare and valuable metals extracted at great cost to the environment, and to the workers in mines and refineries. Even worse, these workers rarely receive a fair wage.
Later, when we throw out that electronic device, be it a TV or a videogame system, we are not just contributing junk to the landfill. We are also adding toxic materials to our ecosystem and losing the usefulness of precious materials that were so hard to come by in the first place.
With cell phones, small computers and other devices turning over faster and faster in the consumer market, the pace at which we manufacture and then throw out electronics is quickly rising.
Recycling is a way to close this loop and shift to a more sustainable world.
It turns out there is even a profit to be made by extracting the valuable components from old electronics!
The non-profit industry organization Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) will pay for your old electronics. It will even help you arrange a pickup, and can provide bins to help collect larger amounts of electronic equipment.
A few faith communities in Ottawa have made use of these services as fundraiser events. Bells Corners United Church held an electronic recycling drive as part of their Eco-Fair late in 2011. It collected 9.4 tons of waste at $185 per ton.
The whole process was made much easier thanks to an OES agent, said organizer John Morrell. The agent helped the church with its application.
Although OES required a site inspection and set certain conditions for the electronic waste drop off, the process was not difficult. The congregation was very happy with its experience.
Meanwhile, the First Unitarian Congregation has held two electronic waste days at its Westboro building. Publicity through local community groups helped generate interest.
If you are interested in hosting an electronics recycling day, start the process by visiting www.recycleyourelectronics.ca/electronics and following the Fundraising link.
Until March 31, 2012, your group could even receive $1,000 and a publicity kit to help get the word out about your event!
Kathryn Guindon is Eco-Spiritual Coordinator for Maison Tucker House.