Weavers Way Co-op and Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting held a recycling event to help raise money and help keep electronics out of landfills. (Photo by Lane Blackmer)

by Lane Blackmer

 Two area social advocacy groups are helping to save the planet, one computer at a time.

The Weavers Way Environmental Committee and Chestnut Hill Meeting’s Peace and Social Committee came together on Saturday to host an electronics-recycling event to both better the environment and raise money for a few noble causes.

Kathy Miller, event coordinator and member of both committees, said recycling electronics is important because it contributes to less pollution.

“[Old electronics] have materials in them that are poisonous,” she said. “So if they go into a landfill then that stuff leaches out and gets into the water. So environmentally, to get the computers and electronics recycled is really better.”

She added that a lot of folks find it difficult to rid themselves of old electronics, since they’re not taken at the curb. And it wasn’t until recently that recyclers didn’t have to pay by the pound for what they were recycling. Since the change, she said, there have been many more people bringing in their old items.

Eric McKinley, who said he lived down the street from the collection area on Mermaid Lane, said he lets his unwanted electronics pile up because he doesn’t know what to do with them.

“I had these TVs that I’ve been wanting to unload from my house for a long time,” he said, adding that the three TVs he brought in had been sitting unused for several years. “[Old electronics] just sit in my house.”

Roland Williams, who brought several items to be recycled, said he also ends up with piled-up electronics because he doesn’t know what else to do with them.

“One [reason I brought my electronics was] to clear space in my home office and also to try and save the world,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t have thrown his old electronics away. “It’s a much better idea to recycle.”

Jay Segal, from eForce Compliance, said this is common among Philadelphians because there are not many places to take them.

Segal said companies, like his, are solely responsible for electronics recycling in the city of Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia won’t accept them,” he said. “In order to recycle it you have to take it to a recycling center.”

But Segal said companies like his are the ones who ultimately end up with the electronics so they can disassemble them and wipe the hard drives.

But recycling is important, he said, to ensure that the environment is safe.

“An event like this, we’ll do 30,000 pounds, which is a lot of computers,” he said. “Each individual consumes between 8 and 12 pounds of electronics every year.”

“It’s important because folks know exactly where [their electronics] are going and they’re sure their information being destroyed. And it’s not going into a landfill and destroying the earth. So they’re being responsible.”

In addition to the environmental benefits, Miller said the event also helps raise funds – through donations – to help both organizations perform their duties.

Weavers Way’s Environmental Committee, she said, will use the cash for neighborhood grants to those doing “environmentally sound things” like planting community gardens or educating children on the matter.

The Friends’ Peace and Social Committee will use raised funds to donate to a Quaker garden on 9th Street and Indiana Avenue, as well as to the Germantown nonprofit Every Murder is Real.

“It’s a good way to raise money for very good projects and it helps the earth in the process,” Miller explained.

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