Green Initiatives a Success at Woodland Park Middle School


Amy Patterson, Reporter

In the year 2007, according to the EPA, 20.6 million television sets were thrown into the garbage. 157.3 million computer products were trashed. 126.3 cell phones ended up canned. In a throw-away society, chucking our electronics into a dumpster is entirely acceptable. We rarely think about where these objects go; after all, out of sight, out of mind. Each year, toxic chemicals from e-waste, also referred to as electronic waste, are leached into our soils and drinking water supplies, rendering many of them inert.

However, there is a simple solution to this problem, and it is being offered at Woodland Park’s local middle school. For the consumer, electronic recycling is as simple as packing up a car, driving to Woodland Park Middle School, and depositing electronics in the depot provided. With only minimal effort, we can prevent many toxins from entering our ecosystem thanks to Woodland Park Panther Recycling and Blue Star Recyclers.

The origins of the program are not far off; in fact, the middle school depot has only been in existence for about a year. “It started out with the SOS (Save Our Society) Club hosting one-day events,” explains Mr. Kendall Hovel, high school science teacher and faculty sponsor of the SOS Club, an organization geared towards promoting sustainability. “There seemed to be a lot of demand, so we established the permanent facility at the middle school.”

Hovel’s comment about demand is in fact an understatement. By his estimation, over the past several years, about 80,000 pounds of electronics have been collected and dismantled through events sponsored by the SOS Club and the permanently installed collection site at Woodland Park Middle School. (For a point of reference, 80,000 pounds is about one fifth of a blue whale.)

One of the most remarkable aspects of the program is that, unlike many other recycling initiatives, it is not outsourced to China. The electronics left at the depot are dismantled at the middle school and then exported to Blue Star Recyclers in Colorado Springs for further processing. This not only bolsters U.S. business but also allows for a higher percentage of recycled goods to be added back into the U.S. economy, meaning it is good for both of the “big e’s”: economy and environment. It is also great for another “big e”: ethics. Blue Star Recyclers specializes in creating local jobs for individuals with disabilities.

Someday, it can only be hoped, all electronics will find their home in a recycling depot and not a dumpster. To do your part, bring your old electronics to Woodland Park Middle School. Help humanity, help the environment, and help the world.