Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - British Columbia, Canada

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British Columbia, Canada
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KP09



Registered: December 2021
City/Town/Province: West Vancouver
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In 2019, I created a new youth-led initiative at my high school in British Columbia, Canada to raise awareness of the growing environmental and global human rights problems associated with toxic electronic waste. I called this initiative The E-cycling Project. The project mission is to inspire, educate, harvest and share. My initial goal was to inspire students and their families to be responsible consumers, and educate them about how and where they can safely recycle electronics in their local communities. The pilot project was a great success and so I have continued to develop the initiative further. In 2021, I mentored other students to support them in continuing on with the project at my former high school, and I have also developed a website and wrote a free downloadable how-to student guide. The pandemic has shown us all how well we can use online platforms to connect with others, even long distance. I am now in discussions with school boards in my area to share my work. I would like to mentor youth in other schools, using platforms such as Zoom and Skype, and making my free student guide available to them. The Nicodemus Wilderness Project is a very inspiring organization as it brings together young people from diverse backgrounds, who share a common vision for their communities and for the planet. I decided to write this essay to help spark interest in my project in the hopes that it would organically self-seed and take root elsewhere. The goal of the E-cycling Project addresses several important issues. This first is the environmental and social justice problems associated with dumping toxic e-waste. Canada, which has a population of roughly 38 million people, generates about 640,000 metric tonnes of "e-scrap" annually. This amount is growing each year as we consume more and more electronic goods, and these goods are being "retired" more quickly than ever before. Much of our electronic waste simply ends up in our landfills where it can damage land and water ecosystems. A great deal is shipped to developing countries where environmental rules are not so strict and people are less affluent and more willing to work in poorly regulated recycling industries. Sometimes whole families, including children, do the work of stripping the valuable materials from our e-waste. This is toxic and hazardous labor, especially when undertaken with little or no protective gear. Clearly, the irresponsible dumping of e-waste is bad for land and sea animals, as well as human beings. In addition, The E-cycling Project attempts to address another, often overlooked issue. Nowadays access to technology is an issue of social equity. Access to a cell phone and a computer are not luxuries, but necessities. The E-cycling Project harvests electronics for low-income seniors and students, people affected by blindness, non-profit organizations, etc. We connected with community partners who would to refurbish and repurpose usable electronic items gathered during the e-cycling drive. YEAR 1: Pilot project From December 2019 to February 2020, I recruited, trained and managed a team of 15 students, many of them members of my high school's Environmental Protection Network, who gave approximately 100 volunteer hours to the project. For most youth and their families, December is the peak season for the purchase of electronic items. Our team of volunteers gathered e-waste donations from their peers, setting up a temporary e-waste recycling station in the school. The e-cycling station accepted cell phones, computers, laptops, printers, monitors, gaming equipment, headsets, TVs, DVD players, chargers, wires and batteries, and more. Whatever could be repurposed or refurbished was donated directly to community partners, who provide technology for low-income seniors and learners, people affected by blindness, and non-profit organizations. In the very first year, the e-cycling project "harvested" electronics for three non-profits. One laptop in good condition was donated to BC Technology for Learning Society. Four cell phones were donated to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Almost 200 pounds of e-waste were donated to a local e-waste recycling facility. Materials such as plastics, copper, aluminum, and precious metals were all recycled on site. None of this e-waste left Canada, so we guarantee that our project will help people and planet by keeping toxic waste out of local landfills and unsafe recycling facilities overseas. All our community partners take the issue of data protection seriously, and can guaranteed that all donated items were data protected. YEAR 2: Growing this initiative for greater impact In 2021 I decided to continue to grow this initiative. I saw that was very successful in my own school community, and was the kind of project that other schools and youth groups could easily set up and run successfully. I decided I would mentor a new team of students in my high school to continue the project in 2021, and that I would also reach out to other high schools. I am currently in discussions with a number of school boards about how I could share this project with their students. I also developed an educational website and a free how-to guide for youth leaders (in the form of a short downloadable e-book) to inspire other school and community-based youth groups to start up similar projects. (Please see my website at ecyclingproject.mystrikingly.com). The educational messaging of the e-cycling project is positive, proactive and practical. We focus on students living lightly, creating a better world for all, and ways that they can help harvest, regenerate and share resources with the wider community. We want to inspire students to be responsible consumers, and teach them how and where they can safely recycle electronics in their local communities. By educating youth, the e-cycling project also indirectly educate their families, influencing family decision-making around e-waste recycling. The project also raises awareness among youth about responsible consumption, as well as the importance of data protection when recycling e-waste. With outreach via online peer mentoring through school environmental protection and green clubs, as well as providing these free resources, I hope to grow this project and make free support resources as widely available as possible. The E-cycling Project has attracted the support of local corporate sponsors (Vancity Credit Union and London Drugs), and I have plans to generate publicity for the initiative through local media. This school-based electronics recycling project started out as a simple idea, but quickly required me to develop many new skills and competencies: liaising with school staff, recruiting and managing teams of students, researching corporate sponsors, writing fundraising proposals, making in-person pitches to sponsors, developing organizational and managerial skills, learning simple PR techniques, building a website, and even becoming an author. At times, these required skill-sets seemed overwhelming. I had to seek out mentors, and had to read up about how to develop new skills. Most importantly, I realized that teamwork and cooperation are critical to the success of most great projects. I have now graduated from high school and am studying Environmental Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. I hope to go on to complete a Master's degree in order to become a research scientist. I bring to my studies a sense of wonder, curiosity and awe for the natural world, a deep commitment to grow intellectually and emotionally, to help create and serve a vibrant, inclusive community, and to become an environmental steward and change maker. I am deeply committed to helping people live in good relationship with the natural world. This is a vital part of who I am, and is much larger than a program of study or career. A Cree elder recently gave me the spirit name "Mother Earth Woman" to help me on my life path. It is not only a great honour, but a huge responsibility, requiring a lifelong commitment to learn from, care for and advocate for Mother Earth. Three things that are important to me are advocating for the natural environment, creating community, and nurturing my own personal development. They are completely interconnected. After being included in many traditional Indigenous ceremonies, I now understand community differently, encompassing diversity and inclusivity in both the human and natural worlds.
Date: October 28, 2022 Views: 150 File size: 29.2kb, 1439.2kb : 3024 x 4032
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 18
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 15 to 18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 115
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