Our big day came and went and we couldn’t be happier with the results! Thanks to everyone who came out to support us!
Here’s what we achieved on March 14th:
We accepted various laptops, computers and printers, dozens of cell phones, a giant bucket of batteries, a box of ink cartridges, cameras, cords and cables in every size and shape imaginable, a couple of TVs (yes, people did bring TVs all the way to the campus!) and lots of other electronics. All of these electronics are saved from being sent overseas!
We have over 400 signatures on our petition for a free, permanent drop-off location on campus! This petition will be given to SFU’s president Andrew Petter, along with a letter explaining our project, and our proposed policy for SFU.
We handed out green ribbons that people wore to promote our e-waste day.
We made a “pledge wall” of paper hands, on which students signed their name, pledging that they will recycle their electronics ethically.
At our E-Waste Day, we loved talking to students and learning what they believe, and what they care about. We had several questions about what “ethical recycling” really means for us. This is a good question because the word “ethical” gets thrown around a lot, and unfortunately, without much thought behind it.
Here’s what we mean when we say “ethical recycling”:
We believe it is ethical to take apart e-waste in Canada, not overseas in developing countries. Workers in developing countries don’t have the same safety equipment and laws as we have in Canada. Thus, the workers are exposed to deadly chemicals every day, poisoning themselves and their environment. They also often use young children as workers. We believe that child labour is unethical. Instead, we have researched recycling organizations and their entire downstream and we are confident to say that the organization we have chosen (Free Geek) will not send their materials overseas. We believe it is unethical to ship our problems out of sight, where they become a greater problem for others.
The most important thing that we learned at our event is that SFU students want a drop-off location for their electronics on campus, and they will take advantage of this resource. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to this idea. Students know that electronics shouldn’t be thrown out. Most people we spoke to had collections of e-waste in their homes, and are waiting to figure out what to do with it.
That’s why we believe that the key at this stage in the campaign is education and promotion. People want to do the right thing, but most of the time we don’t know what the right thing is. We need to help out people by providing them with a resource they can easily use, and we believe that we a proper marketing campaign would spread the word about the resource, so students know they can use it. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of people who knew about our event and brought things. Even though we had few resources and little time, our article in the Peak, our posters, and our Facebook page and blog seem to have made a difference already.
Thanks again to everyone who came out to donate, say hi, and sign our petition. Together, we can make this happen!