Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ewaste 2011, Annual Freecycle Day helps Vermonters Rid Homes and Businesses of e-waste

     Where do you take that old analog TV or ancient five year old desktop computer hiding in your closet when its finally time for it to go?  In Vermont, we have the option to recycle them for free at the annual eWaste2011 event, this year held at National Life Group's Headquarters in Montpelier, the capitol city of Vermont.
     From 9am to 2pm long lines of cars carrying equipment to recycle queued up on the long entry road leading into the complex.  eWaste2011 was sponsored by Small Dog Electronics an Apple Specialist and National Life who donated the site.  Small Dog employees greeted drivers dropping off their goods ushering them along to the collection site.
     All of the eWaste was being collected and processed by WeRecycle in the U.S.  A small percentage of the ewaste will be salvaged intact and go on to a second life elsewhere.  The majority of the eWaste will be recycled to obtain elements such as tin, copper, silicon, beryllium, carbon, iron, aluminum to be reused.  These materials will make their way into new electronics of various kinds while staying out of landfills and posing an environmental hazard for generations to come.
     As a consumer I can't tell you how joyful it feels to rid our home of junk like this collecting dust in closets, drawers and corners of our garage.  Lightening our load while returning our eWaste back to usefullness leaves a smile on our faces.

     My wife and I wondered aloud as we drove through the line waiting to unload our materials at all of the expensive yet obsolete electronics like this pallet of TVs.  We saw possibly six to eight tractor trailers waiting for loading and thought of all the money this equipment cost at time of original purchase.  What was here was likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollar range but no longer of value to users.
     Recently I've been reading a very interesting book What's Mine is Yours, the Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Roo Rogers and Rachel Botswan which takes this to task.  You've seen my earlier post sharing Rachel's inspiring Ted Talk.  What we're doing here at the eWaste freecycle event is shifting from a  "me to we" world which is something we more typically environmentally inspired Vermonters often do anyway.

          In the book, they talk about the transition away from an ownership economy to an experience economy.  Today consumers have numerous options to rent, share, give back, recycle then ever before as well as fee for service options where "owning" is replaced by purchasing the experience of something instead.  Whether it's ZipCar, Netflix, AppleTV, participating in FreeCycle, airBnB and a host of other websites bringing people to share "excess carrying capacity" of already owned items like cars, houses, movies, TV shows, DVDs, bikes, books.  The eWaste2011 event is a tip of that iceberg of forward thinking community oriented action.  While its more of an example of recycling of basic electronics waste returning them back into the manufacturing loop rather than laying fallow in landfills it too is part of Collaborative Consumption movement of what's mine is yours.
     Another neat aspect of the eWaste2011 event was there was an EcoFair and a Hazardous and Solid waste free pickup event simultaneous to the larger one.  One critique though was for whatever reason

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