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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Jester Dormitory, Austin, Texas, USA

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Jester Dormitory, Austin, Texas, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: McAllen
Posts: 1
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Growing up in the beautiful and dense nature of Venezuela, I was able to develop a passion for conserving such beauty. It has inspired me to focus on the sustainability of our actions, so we can create a bright future of harmony and balance for all. I am fulfilling my passion for the environment by studying environmental engineering in the University of Texas at Austin, which has one of the best programs in the nation for this career. Studying in the University of Texas, I am inspired everyday to create positive change with our school motto: “What starts here changes the world.” With such inspiration I decided to start one of the first electronic recycling project in the biggest residence hall of my university. The city of Austin, being the recharge zone of the Edwards aquifer, is vital to the aquifer’s sustainability because almost all the water on its soil seeps quickly into its reservoir. The project to recycle electronic waste in Austin, Texas, was a success with a bright future because it is indispensable for protecting the Edwards aquifer’s ecology and for bettering the public health of the region.

Recycling electronic waste in the biggest residence of the University of Texas was a successful project that has a future of progress. The success of this project is due to my dedication and hard work, which lead me first to join the organization Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW). As I joined, I had the clear idea of electronic waste recycling. The idea was welcomed and I became responsible for the implementation of the program in the biggest residence of the university, Jester dormitory. As a newly enrolled freshmen this was an intimidating task at the beginning, but with firm dedication I idealized a plan. My plan consisted of a strategic spot on the main floor of the residence for advertising; a bin to collect the recyclables; and a main poster to promote the project. To implement such plan, a clear and organized proposal had to be presented to the housing division. In just a couple of weeks, after presenting the proposal to the housing division, my project was accepted. I was able to start the project in Jester dormitory, which houses a little over 3,000 students, and start benefiting the community. By the end of the semester, thanks to my efforts, I was able to collect a multitude of batteries, cell phones, printer cartridges, cables, and even a laptop computer. The turn out of this project was a success that was not expected from past projects, thus it will be implemented again in Jester dormitory and even expanded to other locations across campus. The best locations are the residence halls so we can inform the newly enrolled freshmen about this opportunity to create change. In upcoming years it is my vision to have electronic waste recycling be as widely known by every student as paper or plastic recycling are today.

The electronic waste recycling project protects the ecology of the essential Edwards aquifer and improves the public health of the region. Since the Edwards aquifer is a limestone formation, it is very prone to be easily contaminated in the recharge zone, the Austin area. According to the Environmental Protection of America, EPA, approximately half of the 1800 tons of cadmium in our waste stream are due to disposed batteries. By having batteries and electronics properly recycled heavy metals, such as cadmium and mercury, do not seep from land fills into the soil and directly into the aquifer. The EPA considers batteries as “household hazardous waste,” due to their heavy metals content and the importance of recycling these components. Thus, it is specially important for the delicate ecology of the aquifer to recycle electronic components since cadmium, lead, and mercury are heavy metals that can have detrimental effects on any specie. With one threatened and 16 endangered species, the Edwards aquifer is a delicate ecosystem that must be protected and not polluted with such heavy metals. These metals are know to cause several diseases and defects in human beings. One such case is the Minamata disease in Japan caused by mercury being disposed of incorrectly. Therefore, disposing of electronics as normal trash threatens public health due to heavy metals seeping into the aquifer’s water. Since the Edwards aquifer is such a vast resource of potable water for the central region of Texas, having water contaminated in the aquifer raises the cruciality of this effort, to recycle electronics, to a regional level. San Antonio is one such city, with a population of around a million, it depends on the potable water provided by the aquifer. If such water becomes increasingly polluted with cadmium, mercury, and lead; the quality of life and public health is deemed to decrease. In addition, recent studies by the University of Texas health and science center provided a suggestive correlation of increased autism cases, in the central region of Texas, due to increased releases of toxic or hazardous materials, around the recharge zone of the aquifer. This study points to the importance of keeping the crucial Edwards aquifer, free of heavy metals and other contaminants. Preserving the pristine qualities of the Edwards aquifer by recycling electronic waste is the biggest and most important success of the project.

Recycling electronic waste in Austin is an indispensable step to conserving the Edwards aquifer’s ecology and ensuring a good quality of public health for all the central region of Texas. Recycling electronic waste in Jester dormitory, housing 3,000 students, has proven to be a great success for only the first phase of the project. In upcoming semester this project will be expanded to other locations with a bigger crew, always with the goal of bettering our region’s health and ecology by not having heavy metals in our Edwards aquifer. This project has inspired me to not be afraid of creating change; not matter how small or simple the change is, it can have a bigger impact than one can realize at first glance. With hope for the future I can see this project creating not just a healthier community, but a healthier state and ecology. I thought I could achieve such great impact with a degree only, but I now realize I can do so with dedication and hard work. Every time I think about the accomplishments of recycling electronic waste in Austin, I dream of the day when I can go back to the beautiful nature of Venezuela and start another project that will ensure the public health and protect the ecology. I now realize that my electronic recycling project in Austin might not change the world, but my experiences doing this project will help me change the world for the safeguarding of future generations.
Date: December 31, 2010 Views: 6242 File size: 14.4kb, 512.8kb : 603 x 512
Hours Volunteered: 45
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18
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