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Turning e-waste into real money

Students and teachers at Elmira District Secondary School are tackling the growing problem of electronic waste, and raising some money for a good cause at the same time.

EDSS is participating in the Think Recycle program, which gathers old printer cartridges, cell phones and digital cameras from members of the community and exchanges them for money. Greentec, the Cambridge based e-waste company behind Think Recycle, then collects, processes and recycles the items, diverting the waste from local landfill sites.

Calling out to Woolwich residents for their old cell phones, printer cartridges and other e-waste are EDSS Grade 9 students Jorja Ruppert, Jocelyn Bearinger and Rebecca Wiersma. The school is taking part of the Think Recycle program.
Calling out to Woolwich residents for their old cell phones, printer cartridges and other e-waste are EDSS Grade 9 students Jorja Ruppert, Jocelyn Bearinger and Rebecca Wiersma. The school is taking part of the Think Recycle program.

The money raised goes to a charitable cause. The students in Sandra Jardim’s Grade 9 business class have chosen the National Wildlife Foundation in order to assist with cleanup following the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“By donating your old electronic waste, you are not only helping EDSS raise money for the National Wildlife Foundation, but you get to directly protect the environment and do a good thing,” said Jardim.

More than 300 million empty printer cartridges are disposed of each year in North America, equaling about 900 million pounds of waste that can potentially end up in a landfill. The Think Recycle program has been responsible for the diversion of more than a million cartridges from landfills and has provided nearly $3 million in funding to its participants. More than 20,000 schools in North America participate in Think Recycle, Greentec president Tony Perrotta said in a release.

“I know I have an old cell phone at home in my desk and I didn’t know what to do with it. When I found out I could recycle it, I thought ‘Why not?’” said Jardim. “I didn’t think about just how much space must be taken up in landfills if every person throws out a cell phone, and just how toxic it is.”

In addition to giving money for these used electronic items, Greentec also donates one tree to either Tree Canada or American Forests for each 24 qualifying cell phone or cartridge that EDSS returns. Since the program’s inception nationwide, it has paid for the planting of more than 50,000 trees, effectively removing 8,700 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

“Our usual fundraising initiatives are great, but the Think Recycle program directly protects the environment,” said Barbara Gaudet, who teaches the environmental class at EDSS. “This way we can stop filling up our landfills with electronic waste and fundraise at the same time.”

Anyone can donate their old cell phones, digital cameras or printer cartridges at the EDSS main office, or contact Sandra Jardim at 669-5414, ext. 405 to arrange a convenient time. Donations will be accepted until the end of the school year, June 22.

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