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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Saratoga, California, USA

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Saratoga, California, USA
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recycle007



Registered: December 2018
City/Town/Province: Saratoga
Posts: 1
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I grew up in Silicon Valley, California, the home to many technology companies and startups. Because the Silicon Valley is an area that heavily relies on technology on a day to day basis, I was surprised to learn that some institutions had insufficient policies regarding the disposal of e-waste. I realized the degree of this insufficiency when I visited a new startup and noticed dozens of cartons of printer cartridges lying in a landfill bin. When I asked a nearby staff member if they had implemented any measures for recycling these cartridges, they informed me that they had not. Printer cartridges contain heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury, and I knew that these toxic chemicals could easily build up in great amounts in landfills because of the sheer number of cartridges used in institutions of different kinds around the Silicon Valley.


This year, I decided to start a project that would alleviate these institutes of their need to worry about the recycling of these cartridges as well as raise awareness to urge them to implement better e-waste recycling policies. I began my project by researching methods that these cartridges could be recycled with. I found an organization called Recycle4Education online that accepted used toner cartridges and returned twenty-five dollars to the doner once the value of the recycled cartridges reached that amount. I wanted to spread the word about my project to places that could potentially have an abundance of toner cartridges, so I created flyers that advertised my project and urged institutions to save their toners for collection. I then went to doctors offices, startups, education centers, and households to pass out the flyers, and let them know that I could help collect their empty cartridges in the near future. When I returned to these institutes for collection, I received twenty-nine laser cartridges and twenty-two ink cartridges. However, after sorting and categorizing the cartridges, I discovered that Recycle4Education did not accept a few of the types of cartridges I had received from the doctors offices and education centers. I researched places that could accept the leftover cartridge types. I discovered that a nearby Staples could help recycle them, so I bought the leftover cartridges to them.


In the future, I would like to expand my project so that it can reach more people in the community. I believe that the main issue with the lack of electronic recycling stems back to the lack of education for it. Growing up, I was taught the importance of recycling items such as paper and plastic, but I was never exposed to the concept of specialized recycling for materials containing heavy metals. In order to teach the significance of e-waste, I would like to bring my project to elementary and middle schools. Doing so can not only help collect more toner cartridges, but also raise awareness about the importance of understanding how electronics and cartridges can be recycled instead of just thrown in landfills. I would like to create presentations that explain how the buildup of these toxic chemicals in landfills hinders the quality of the air, water, soil, and human life nearby, and teach these elementary and middle schoolers how they can make a difference by just recycling their own household cartridges and electronics once they are finished using them. Through educating the younger generation, there can be a drastic change in the culture of e-waste disposal in the future.


This project has not only inspired me to continue expanding it to the younger age group, but has also taught me how big of a difference one can make in their community by simply taking action to inspire others to care about the environment around them. Although I would like to continue my project to grander scales, I believe that collecting these cartridges has already impacted the donors by pushing them to ponder about implementing more sufficient disposal methods. It was also inspiring to see how eager people were to help partake in this project by donating their cartridges and how willing they were to continue recycling their electronics in the future. Through this project, I discovered that caring about a small issue can lead to a large impact, and I look forward to expanding that impact to more places and people in the future.
Date: December 31, 2018 Views: 171 File size: 14.9kb, 679.9kb : 4032 x 3024
Hours Volunteered: 20
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16
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