Today’s hottest tech toys eventually become tomorrow’s
electronic waste: E-waste. And it ends up in landfills all across the
country—especially in California, which is home to Silicon Valley.
That’s where Scouting came in. Earlier this month,
Sacramento-area Troops 640 and 217 organized an e-waste drive for their
community, collecting 80,000 pounds of gadgets for proper and safe recycling.
Not only were they helping make the planet greener, they also earned money for
their troops and district.
The event drew a lot of attention, too. People lined up 75
minutes before the scheduled start of the drive.
Harriette Carr, committee chairperson, and other members of
the Pony Express District helped organize the day. Partnered with CEAR
(California Electronic Asset Recovery Inc.), a local electronics recycling
company, she arranged for Scouts and Scouters to staff the e-waste drive,
which was supervised by a CEAR representative. After the event, they weighed the
electronics collected, and the Scouts got a check based on how many pounds they
Net profit from the one-day drive amounted to about $6,000, said Bill
Condray, publicity chairman. Not bad for a day’s work. But the big payday
didn’t come easily.
Carr and her crew of adult volunteers researched California
recycling regulations, informed the community about what they planned to do,
and established safety guidelines for the boys. And they had to follow CEAR’s
regulations. The company wouldn’t accept batteries, and anything with a screen
had to be logged individually. Other than that, anything else—from PCs to
hairdryers—was accepted with open arms.
Promoting the event was more difficult. Troop members
peppered houses within a five-mile radius with printed brochures that included
information on which types of electronics could be accepted and which could
not. Scouts also posted notices at local stores, on craigslist, and in the
PennySaver. Even the Sacramento Bee
wrote up the event (nothing like free advertising).
An exit survey of the e-waste drive attendees indicated that
69 percent of the visitors had heard about the event either from the circulars
or the newspaper article. When you’re planning a similar event, keep that in
Also keep in mind one important safety regulation: Only
adults 18 and older can touch the electronics. So the 20 or so adult volunteers
donned safety goggles, while some of the 40 to 50 Scouts helped greet visitors,
administer the exit survey, and provide paperwork to donors who had items with
screens on them (California law requires that
those waste items be documented individually). Other boys stood at nearby intersections with signs that
advertised the event. For safety reasons, an adult leader stood with each pair
By 1 p.m., the troops had finished the drive. The boys and
leaders had succeeded at helping the environment while helping their budgets.
That’s why they’re planning another drive for the spring.
Your troop can plan a similar event. How? It’s easy.
Visit this link on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web
site. You’ll find tons of ways to get hooked up with a local program.
An electronics recycling drive helps your community lessen
its impact on the earth while also bringing in extra income for your unit.
It’s simple: Go green. Earn some green.
Follow the jump for more photos from the event, courtesy of Bill Condray.