E-waste not

A boxy monitor starts to look like it belongs in a museum, so it’s pitched in favor of a laptop, which is pitched in favor of internet that fits in your pocket. That’ll likely get thrown out when the new new itty-bitty internet comes out. But all that stuff has to go somewhere. Too often, it’s the dump.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly three million tons of consumer electronic waste was generated in 2003 alone, the latest figures available. Only an estimated 11 percent of it was recycled.

NewToYou Computers on 155 Glendale Ave., a program within Disability Resources, Inc, is providing a local alternative to e-waste. The nonprofit takes donated computers, hardware and software, fixes them up and either gives them for free to people with disabilities (even those with learning disabilities) or sells them at low cost to the public to help finance the cause of helping the disabled. NewToYou will be on hand at the Conscious Community Celebration on Sept. 30 (see Eco-Event, this page). The group will be accepting computers, cables, mice, scanners, printers, fax machines, cell phones, scanners, speakers and all computer-related items, whether they still function or not. Anything not reusable is shipped to California for proper recycling.

“It’s good to be able to reuse what could be high-tech waste, especially serving populations that may not have access to it,” says Richard Flyer, founder of Conscious Community.

“Anything that is reusable should be recycled back into the community,” says Robin Krueger, NewToYou Computers program manager. “There’re so many people that can’t afford it, never thought they could have it.”

Krueger says monitors are especially toxic, and that the need for proper e-waste recycling is building.

“Our first month, we sent out 10,000 pounds, and we’re little. That’s without going out and soliciting donations, so imagine the pounds going out everywhere else,” she says. “It’s a problem that, eventually, we’re really going to have to face.”