Teaching students to dispose of techno trash
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 20:09
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Office Space” — and let’s face it, who hasn’t — you’ve watched the infamous scene where Peter and his nerdy work buddies beat a laser printer to death with a baseball bat.
As monumental as this scene was in representing defiance in the mundane workplace, it also represents the wrongful disposal of E-waste, or what we call “techno trash” at UVM.
Last semester, Jon Erickson, professor of ecological economics and managing director of the Gund Institute, asked my class, “How many of you have a cellphone that is more than two years old?” Only three students of the 50 in the class raised their hand. Sadly, I was not one of them.
A week before, a small piece in my cellphone broke so I took it to Verizon hoping I could get it fixed. They told me that my phone was outdated and that I would have to get a new one. I looked at them like they were crazy — my phone was only three years old.
According to Greenpeace, mobile phones in developed nations now only have a lifespan of less than two years.
While it may seem like electronics companies just aren’t building their products to last anymore, we still have the ability to make smart consumer decisions that reduce E-waste, and can also be conscious about how we dispose of it.
The EPA admits that most discarded consumer electronics end up in landfills. There are also numerous accounts of E-waste being exported to developing countries, posing a huge treat to their environment as well as to human health.
At UVM, the Recycling and Waste Management department has set up special “techno trash” bins on campus that allow for students to safely dispose of batteries, electronic devices, light bulbs, printer cartridges, etc.
The techno trash then gets sent to Good Point Recycling in Middlebury, which recycles and reuses the “trash” properly, never exporting for disposal.
As an Eco-Rep I know where to find techno trash bins, but if you are like my roommate who barged into my room the other night at 2 a.m. with a light bulb in her hands asking if it was recyclable, you can find all of the locations of the bins and learn more at http://www.uvm.edu/~recycle/.