Thanks to the citizens of Berkeley, CA, who brought in their lifeless laptops, tired TVs and moribund monitors to the Berkeley Association of REALTORS (BAR) for our Earth Day e-cycling event. This is the third year that I've organized the event for BAR, and this year we collected a record amount of equipment, cables, and related gear.
This year we partnered with a local eco-center and computer repair business, GreenCitizen, who were celebrating their first year in Berkeley. Before the event I met with their manager, Ryan McCarter. “GreenCitizen hopes to pair the convenience of recycling with the educational and environmental awareness surrounding the electronic items we hold dear. We are happy that the Berkeley Association of REALTORS® (BAR) wishes to share in this experience of responsible and appropriate recycling and education” said GreenCitizen’s Berkeley recycling center manager.
Ryan had delivered three large cardboard containers to collect the equipment, each about a four-foot cube. By the middle of our five-hour shift, he had called in for re-enforcements, and in the end we filled six of those containers! He estimated we had collected two tons of material!
It was a "feel-good" event, and members of the community were clearly grateful for the convenience of the service. While it's terrific that we kept that volume of material out of their landfill, as well as out of the water and air supplies of third world countries, seeing the pile of laptops and printers was very sobering. The real challenge is to change the behavior of the manufacturers of these products. Certainly it would be possible to make equipment that could be modular, like the original TVs where if a tube burned out, you fixed just that tube. I know I"m being naive to think that manufacters will voluntarily change, when built-in obsolescence, and the "build it for the dump" mentality is so profitable. But it's clearly not healthy for our Earth. We need to celebrate her more than just on one day each year in April!