Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Disposing and Recycling E-waste

Grade Level:
Theme:

Activity Overview: E- waste or electronic waste refers to discarded electronic materials such as phones, TV’s, MP3 players, batteries, etc. Due to the nature of our modern society as well as the nature of modern technological product developers, electronic products are being thrown away after only a few years or after minimal damage in order to buy the newest version. This has become increasingly more common over the years due to the tendency of many companies to discourage repairs and create software that is no longer compatible with older versions of a product, making it easier or even at times necessary to upgrade. The ecological damage that is caused by these products, when not disposed of correctly and responsibly is substantial and can cause toxic chemicals to contaminate our soil, air and water. Unfortunately, the US does not have any federal laws regulating the disposal of electronic waste. However, while there are no federal laws regarding the disposal of e-waste in the US, there are some state laws that may lend a hand. Texas law requires all computer and television manufacturers to take back old computers to be reused or recycled. 

While there are opportunities to recycle electronics in the US, despite the lack of federal enforcement, many Americans do not recycle their old electronics because they simply are not aware of the ecological damage they can do or are unaware of the resources available for electronic recycling. Additionally they may feel that they do not have time to do the research to find recycling facilities near them. 

What can you and your school do to help?

Create an e-waste awareness organization at your school

Creating or being a part of a student run organization is an excellent way to boost your resume or college application. Additionally, bringing together and organizing a group of friends and fellow students to accomplish a common goal can help sharpen your leadership skills and better prepare you for your academic or professional career. If you feel that e-waste awareness is something important and would like to make a change in the way electronics are disposed of in your community, talk to your school administration about creating a student run organization at your school. A student organization whose main goal is to eliminate e-waste would be amazing because it would allow you to work with a large group of people that care about the environment as well as the health of their community. Moreover, this organization, if cared for and taken seriously, could live on long after your high school career is complete. Finally, organizations such as these are especially important because they offer the opportunity for students to take charge and make a change in situations where the schools or districts feel there is no incentive to do so. So gather your friends, take a stand and make a difference!

Host a weekly electronics recycling drive

There is nothing that the modern day person loves more than convenience, so what better way to encourage the responsible and ecological disposal of electronics than by making the process super convenient.

Step 1: Research 

Take some time to research about electronic waste in your community. This includes local laws regarding e-waste as well as recycling centers and the types of electronics those centers accept for recycling. Once you have established the resources available in your community regarding electronics recycling, you can begin organizing the recycling drive. 

Step 2: Advertise

Advertising is key, nobody will show up to recycle their old electronics if they are unaware of the opportunity to do so. You can begin by making some fun, colorful posters and flyers to hang around your school. Additionally, you can go to local coffee shops and stores, with the permission of the owner, and hang some flyers there as well. Finally, creating an informational social media page is an excellent way to share vital information on both the damage that e-waste can do to the environment as well as to keep everyone up to date on state laws regarding e-waste and provide information on options for electronic recycling. 

Step 3: Gather the team

Prior to the event, make sure all the volunteers who will be participating in the event are given a specific job. You will need a group of people to fulfill the following duties. 

  • Set up
    • These volunteers must show up an hour to an hour in a half before the event (depending on the size of the event) to set up tables and tents (optional) as well as bins to place the electronics.
  • Collection 
    • These volunteers will be in charge of collecting and separating the electronics into different categories; commuters, phones, batteries, etc. 
  • Drivers
    • These volunteers will be in charge of transporting the electronics that were dropped off to the designated facility. Different facilities recycle different types of e-waste so make sure to do your research beforehand to make sure your drivers are certain that the electronics they transport will be accepted by the recycling facility. 
  • Take down 
    • There volunteers must stay after the event to take down all the tables and tents that were set up for the event. 
  • Counter
    • This person will be in charge of taking pictures and documenting all the items that are brought in to be recycled. This is important because it will allow you to keep track of the demand for a recycling program in your community. This is a particularly important job because proving the demand to recycle electronics in your community numerically may facilitate the process of achieving governmental reform in the future.

TEKS

E.1(B), E.9(I) 
English I / II / III / IV - 1(A), 1(B), 1(C), 1(D), 11

Environmental Systems: E.1(B) demonstrate an understanding of the use and conservation of resources and the proper disposal or recycling of materials

E.9(I) discuss the impact of research and technology on social ethics and legal practices in situations such as the design of new buildings, recycling, or emission standards

English I / II / III / IV
1(A) engage in meaningful and respectful discourse by listening actively, responding appropriately, and adjusting communication to audiences and purposes 

1(B) follow and give complex oral instructions to perform specific tasks, answer questions, or solve problems and complex processes 

1(C) give a presentation using informal, formal, and technical language effectively to meet the needs of audience, purpose, and occasion, employing eye contact, speaking rate such as pauses for effect, volume, enunciation, purposeful gestures, and conventions of language to communicate ideas effectively 

1(D) participate collaboratively, building on the ideas of others, contributing relevant information, developing a plan for consensus-building, and setting ground rules for decision making

11 - use research skills to plan and present in written, oral, or multimodal formats

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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