Technology is not Trash at the College

July 11, 2011

What follows is a post by Julia Casciotti and Jamison Shabanowitz, two of COS’s Summer Research Students. Julia and Jamison are working on e-recycling issues and will be updating you with their progress throughout the summer. Enjoy!

Arguably the most common way I am reminded of my Senior academic status is when I notice just how many more people have laptops newer than my own. My black MacBook is now three years old, yet seems like it came out of 90’s compared to the sleek, aluminum-encased MacBook Pro on sale now. Julia’s 2008 Dell may look new, but it cannot go more than an hour without being plugged into a wall to recharge the battery.

Needless to say, we will both be looking for upgrades come time for graduation. Yet where do these oldies-but-goodies wind up when the last undergraduate paper has been conquered? Soon, the College hopes to have a solution.

Over the past 13 months, the Committee on Sustainability has been looking at ways to create a full-fledged, institutionalized e-recycling program that takes care of not only student electronics, but also those gadgets owned by faculty and staff.

The project has taken a two-pronged approach, addressing both “small” and “large” electronics typically used by the College community. For smaller items, Swem Library has been a key partner in helping with the success of this project. Students, faculty and staff can drop off ink cartridges, ink toner, and cell phones at the Circulation desk.

This program, free of cost, is more beneficial to the College when more people recycle, as more money is made from recycling certain items and is then sent back to the College’s Green Fee fund. The Green Fee fund helps supports additional projects (like this one) aimed to make our community more sustainable.

Swem also takes care of used battery recycling as well. For those not so inclined to walk to Swem, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, located next to Hunt Hall behind the Campus Center, also takes batteries, along with light bulbs, too.

As for “large” electronics, we are working with the Student Assembly to create a “Tribe eBay” of sorts where students can sell their still-functioning laptops, printers, gaming system, etc. to others in the student community in need. We will probably blog on this idea more in-depth later.

This system will put students on par with faculty and staff, who have their “large” items already properly recycled. In the future, we hope to have more of the items that still are in working condition be resold or donated to the local community instead of being shipped back to a vendor.

There are a few more exciting developments, but I’ll save those for another time. Check back for updates as we begin the second year of the College’s e-recycling initiative. We’ll try and keep things fresh… even if our laptops suffer a premature death.

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