by James Kao, Founder, and CEO of GreenCitizen.
Every year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. This day is recognized as the launch of the U.S. environmental movement in 1970, a groundswell of public concern which quickly led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. April 22 still appears on our calendars as Earth Day, but what does it look like almost 50 years later?
Many organizations celebrate Mother Earth on April 22. Everywhere you look, you’ll see events promoting pro-environmental messages. All day long, or maybe for just a few hours, there’s talk of sustainability awareness. There are dire projections and passionate gestures around conserving natural resources and curbing pollution. Organizations gather to collect trash from beaches and waterways, and electronics recyclers waive their drop-off fees for the day. These are all great gestures for bringing some awareness to the issue. But the only problem is that by April 23, the day after Earth Day, people are already forgetting about their commitment to making the planet clean and green, focusing instead on business as usual, and counting down the days to May Day or Mother’s Day or whatever their next celebration will be.
Is this annual one-day event going to help solve the problems of global electronics recycling and the e-waste crisis? I can answer that in one word: “NO!”
While a one-day focus on sustainability offers some families and businesses the chance to get rid of the unwanted electronics they’ve been accumulating all year, it does nothing to provide the ongoing motivation or convenience that’s necessary to really address the world’s growing e-waste crisis. Computers and other electronics are a given in our daily lives, both in business and at home. New and improved devices are flooding the market, and the ones we’ve been using malfunction or break far too easily after just a few years. Why repair them when it’s cheaper to replace them with something just as good or better? Yet those old and broken electronics keep piling up. We need places where we can recycle them every day, not just on April 22.
GreenCitizen was founded with that need in mind. We’ve been in business since 2005. Over the past 14 years, our company has helped over 275,000 individuals and over 25,000 businesses to divert over 28 million pounds of e-waste by offering year-round recycling and education at its EcoCenter in Burlingame, California.
GreenCitizen’s EcoCenter offers consumers an unprecedented level of convenience by allowing them to recycle almost all electronics that plug into the wall or run on batteries. It is open 10 AM to 6 PM from Monday through Saturday. No appointment is necessary. GreenCitizen provides equal convenience for San Francisco Bay Area businesses to recycle their electronics. Business customers can simply submit a request on the greencitizen.com website, providing a list of their items and their windows of availability on weekdays. They can schedule a pickup from anywhere within 40 miles of the EcoCenter. And on the chosen day, GreenCitizen’s environmentally passionate staff will arrive on location to collect the business’ e-waste.
Think of us as a concierge service, taking just a few minutes of your time to handle a critical task that you probably wouldn’t do otherwise. Compare this level of convenience to the annual chore of hauling your own e-waste to a temporary location within a small window of time on Earth Day. GreenCitizen believes businesses all over the world need this kind of door-to-door service, just as consumers all over the world need an EcoCenter in their town.
Throughout the month of April, GreenCitizen is demonstrating our commitment to building a positive solution to the e-waste crisis into everyday life. We’ve been conducting two-hour Earth Day education table events in and around San Francisco. At each event, we provide education on electronics recycling. We also provide samples of densified Styrofoam and crushed hard drives, and we explain how GreenCitizen responsibly recycles electronics. We believe that the right kind of practical information will educate and encourage the staff and management in these large office buildings to get into the habit of recycling their electronics responsibly.
Convenient recycling needs to be a year-round service. It must become an option for consumers and businesses to recycle whenever they have an unwanted electronic device that needs to go away. As a society, we need to change Earth Day recycling drives from a special event to an everyday reflex.