Category Archives: Environmental Impact

Electronics Recycling Day Spring 2014

As part of our Environmental Impact initiatives, The Longwood Graduate Program Fellows hold a biannual Electronics Recycling Day to assist our peers in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware in the proper disposal of their e-waste. photo 2-1

Thoughts of spring-cleaning must have been running through the collective campus-mind because over 200 unique items were brought in for recycling during the course of the three-hour event. Older model printers and obsolete computer towers continued to be the most donated items, while we saw a sharp decline in the number of CRT television sets.

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As an added incentive, The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens donated heirloom tomato seedlings to be distributed to all Electronics Recycling Day participants.

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All electronic equipment was brought to the UD recycling center, with the exception of cellular phones, which were donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Donate A Phone program.

Electronic Recycling Day December 2013!

On December 4th the Longwood Graduate Program once again hosted its very successful Electronic Recycling Day (ERD). The Graduate Program holds this event twice annually, and it is the perfect opportunity to get rid of obsolete and unwanted electronic items. Most of the electronic items are recycled or donated, and items that still function were claimed by interested parties.

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 All the cell phones that were collected were sent to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) for their Donate a Phone Program. This organization has been in operation for over 34 years, raising awareness and providing assistance to affected families. The University of Delaware student organization buildOn held a similar event on north campus to help raise money to build a primary school in Nicaragua. The PC’s that we collected went towards this cause.

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Nearly 100 items were collected over three hours and most went directly to recycling through the University of Delaware. We would like to thank all the Graduate Program Fellows who assisted in this event, as well as those individuals who dropped off their electronics; we look forward to a greater ‘’harvest’’ next year.

2013 Spring Electronic Recycling Day

Photography by LGP fellows

Friday May 10th, marked the Longwood Graduate Program’s final Electronic Recycling Day (E.R.D.) for the 2012-2013 School year and the final event hosted by the Environmental Impact team for the Class of 2013.

On such a momentous day, it’s only appropriate that every single Fellow, our attentive program secretary, Patty, and our dedicated director, Dr. Bob Lyons, were all present to participate. Even better, we collected more electronics than ever before.
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We collected more than three truckloads of electronics from the South Campus buildings. These included, televisions, computers, laptops, VCRs, scanners, various appliances, batteries, light bulbs and cellphones just to name a few.

DSC_0004According to eWaste, Inc.  Electronic recycling has many important benefits:

By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

DSC_0015We are so happy to provide this opportunity to lighten the load of our landfills.

In closing, don’t forget to hold onto your old electronics for the next E.R.D (December 2013) and cheers for a productive and fancy free summer season from the Fellows at the Longwood Graduate Program’s Environmental Impact Team.

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Electronic Recycling Day

Author/Photography: Chunying Ling

With the high speed development of technology, electronics have been generated rapidly, and often just as quickly disposed rather than recycled. In an effort to reduce the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s (CANR) environmental impact, Longwood Graduate Program (LGP) Fellows hosted Electronics Recycling Day (ERD) once again on the South Campus of the University of Delaware. The purpose of ERD is to redirect electronic items to recycling facilities rather than the landfill.  

Students, staff and faculty brought their retired, obsolete and broken electronics to Townsend Hall.  “These computers have been sitting in my apartment for years, now they finally got home,” a faculty member of CANR said when he was handing over generations of computers and monitors.

It has only been five months since the LGP hosted the last ERD, but we still collected a significant amount of recyclable electronics. For those items that are still in good working conditions, an adoption section was set aside for any passers-by. Some students took printers, monitors and a laptop, all in working condition.  For the first time, the donated cell phones were sent to a national center for reconditioning and future use by residents of domestic violence shelters.



In total, 4 televisions, 7 DVD/ VHS /beta players, 10 keyboards and mouse, 14 printers, 10 monitors, 2 laptops 7 CPU’s, 2 old tape deck/ 8-track players, 2 microwaves/ toaster ovens, about 10 pounds of batteries, several light bulbs and countless miscellaneous items were collected during the three hour collection period. The LGP Fellows and their Director, Dr. Robert Lyons, transferred all the materials to University General Services for sorting disassembly, and recycling.

Thank you all for utilizing Electronic Recycling Day.  It was a great success!

EI Spring Field Trip: Organic Mechanics Soil

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Dongah Shin)

The Organic Mechanics Soil processing facility, complete with industrial found-object landscaping.

On a not-so-unlucky Friday the 13th, Laura Vogel, Rebecca Pineo, Dongah Shin, Ashby Leavell, Raakel Toppila, and I went on our last EI spring field trip for the year, this time to Organic Mechanics Soil in Modena, PA. We met with company founder and president (and former LGP Fellow) Mark Highland, who took us on a tour of the site and shared the story of the company’s beginnings and growth, as well as his own experiences pre- and post-LGP.

Mark Highland explaining the ins and outs of making organic potting soil to the Fellows.

Organic Mechanics Soil, for the uninitiated, is an organic potting soil manufacturer, distributing throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The company has been growing in its reach and success since its foundation in 2006, carrying out Mark’s vision of making the most environmentally sustainable potting soil on the market.

Checking out the soil mixer.

Their soils rely on compost made locally in Chester County to supply water retention, nutrients, and biological activity, rather than on peat, which is nonrenewable and takes a heavy environmental toll for its extraction. Mark also pointed out each of the other ingredients and explained their benefits and how they’ve been sourced as locally and/or responsibly as possible: worm castings, rice hulls from Arkansas and Louisiana (to substitute for perlite when possible), aged pine bark from Delaware, and coconut fiber from India. India, you say? Mark explained that they were careful to choose a supplier with a high quality product, low in salts and chlorides from being washed in rainwater rather than seawater, and which is itself the just leftover dust after the coconuts have been processed for meat, shells, juice, oil, and husks. Shipping the dried, compressed coconut dust by boat is less fuel-intensive than trucking.

An experiment with biochar in the works; behind us are stacks of compressed coconut fiber.

The same intentional approach to sustainability permeates the whole operation, from the worm bin in the office and the employee CSA garden with aquaculture tanks outside, to the close working relationship Organic Mechanics has with Waste Oil Recyclers, the company from whom they lease the site and with whom they share biodiesel for vehicles and equipment.

The employee vegetable garden, with a fish tank to the left. Yum.

As we’ve seen before, being sustainable definitely does not conflict with running a successful business. In its fifth year, the company is already planning its next expansion into a larger processing space, and with recent recognition by Organic Gardening Magazine with its first “Seal of Approval” for organic products, the future looks very bright for Organic Mechanics Soil.

A finished bag ready to go, complete with Organic Gardening’s Seal of Approval.

 

Electronics Recycling Day – perfect spring weather edition

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Raakel Toppila)

Tis the season…for getting rid of trunk-loads of old electronics!

Some junk items just have more character than others.

Our fifth Electronics Recycling Day for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) was held outdoors in front of Townsend Hall, which turned out to be an extremely convenient place for staff, faculty, and students to pull up their cars and unload their unwanted electronics. As in past ERD’s, we collected all manner of outdated computers and broken printers, ancient radios and dusty landline telephones, and batteries—lots and lots of batteries! We were also able to give away a handful of working items to new owners, and another box of cell phones was set aside to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

The EI team sitting pretty on our junk pile. “Hey, are you at ERD? Oh yeah? Me too!”

Ashby Leavell, Rebecca Pineo, and Kate Baltzell loading up the van.

We plan to make ERD an annual spring event from now on, so if you missed this one, save your electronic junk until next time! Unless the pace of technology slows waaay down, we will continue to need a responsible way to dispose of electronics as they get outdated or broken, and the Environmental Impact team is happy to make it easier for people to do so.

We nearly filled up the back of the UDairy Creamery van. At the drop-off at UD General Services, we loaded up five pallets about 3-4 feet high. Good work, CANR!

EI Spring Field Trip Part 2: UD Chrysler site

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Ashby Leavell)

In the afternoon following our EI field trip to the Dansko headquarters, Raakel Toppila, Ashby Leavell, Hagley Fellow Chris Chenier, and I paid a visit to the Chrysler site, just across the road from Townsend Hall. We met with Dave Levandoski, director of 1743 Holdings, a UD subsidiary which is overseeing the demolition of the plant in preparation for UD’s new Science and Technology Campus.

Vintage Chrysler office decor

From the safety of his office in the weirdly under-occupied administration building, Dave presented us with a thorough overview of the site and how one goes about recycling a deconstructed car assembly plant. 85% of the material from the demolition is being recycled, with enough revenue generated from the sale of valuable materials such as stainless steel and copper to cover their costs, so that the entire demolition will cost UD nothing. Dave showed us example after example of recyclable materials from the site, from the obvious (steel, aluminum, batteries) to the not-so-obvious (still-working equipment to be reused; fluorescent lighting tubes with their components; solvents and oils from the factory lines, to be sent out for re-refining or to be mixed and used as clean-burning fuels). He also pointed out some materials that cannot be recycled, at least not at this time – the sludge from waste water treatment, and acres and acres of roofing material, sometimes two or three layers deep.

Witnessing the art of demolition…from a completely safe vantage point, of course

At the end of our visit, we were allowed to don hard hats and head down the back side of the admin building, where we were fortunate to get a look at real-time demolition just behind the building. We all agreed that the operators of the clawing tractors, pulling down whole chunks of building into piles of twisted metal and debris, had the best jobs in the world.

Felicia, Chris Chenier, and Raakel rocking the hard hats

Ashby and Felicia with Lynn McDowell of 1743 Holdings

The future of the Chrysler site remains a fascinating vision—while the area has been designated as the Science and Technology Campus, many elements remain to be fleshed out. Will they daylight the brook now running beneath the concrete? How much of the 235 acres now under impervious surfaces (out of 272 total) will be opened up? Will they preserve, and interpret, the old track on which they used to test M-48 tanks built for the Korean War? Well, we’ll have to wait to return as alumni to witness the answers to these questions.

“They should totally film a Transformers movie here.”

Another view from the fence

Thanks to Dave and Lynn for meeting with us and giving us a first-hand look at the incredible process of decommissioning and recycling a whole automobile assembly plant.

EI Spring Field Trip: Dansko Headquarters

(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Ashby Leavell)

Part of the purpose of the Environmental Impact team is to equip the Fellows with a sustainability-focused mindset and the knowledge of how sustainability can be practiced in all kinds of settings, from our normal sphere of public gardens to places of business unrelated to horticulture (or only just barely).

Newly renovated living wall in the Dansko lobby

For our first spring EI field trip on April 18, Ashby Leavell, Raakel Toppila, Kate Baltzell, and I made the short drive to Jennersville, PA, to see the Dansko shoe company headquarters, where environmental sustainability is just a part of an overall philosophy of doing things the right way whenever possible.

Rain chains adorn the exterior of the company store

Our enthusiastic tour guide and director of facilities at Dansko, Daria Payne, led us around their LEED Gold-certified facility and pointed out all the features that contributed not only to a smaller eco-footprint but also to the well-being of the employees. Wherever there was an opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of the building, the multi-use capacity of its rooms, or the quality of the indoor environment, Dansko took it and ran with it. Office furniture and cubicle walls were made to be portable and reconfigurable. “Smart” lighting adjusts automatically to the amount of daylight coming in through the many, many double-paned argon-filled windows. The outdoor landscaping, from three different living roofs to the rain gardens in and around the parking lot, incorporates thoughtful storm water management practices along with capturing and reusing rainwater for irrigation and the building’s toilets.

Daria explaining the features of the new product development space

One of three living roofs; this one includes a patio and shade structure for employee gatherings

Amid all the environmentally friendly features of the campus, the human aspect of the environment is never neglected. Art works from local artists and often made from found materials decorate even the least public areas of the building. A living wall in the lobby and indoor plants everywhere improve the air quality and create a more homelike atmosphere. Enclosed offices and meeting rooms toward the outside of the building have glass walls in order to share the natural light with workspaces in the interior. The company also encourages philanthropy in all its employees by allowing them up to sixteen hours of paid volunteering time with organizations of their own choosing, and the value of their contribution is matched by the company. (Is anyone else starting to feel tempted to put in a job application?)

What was destined for a storage room became a comfortable library for employees at the insistence of Dansko co-founder Mandy Cabot

Our entertaining and enlightening visit ended with—what else—shopping!

How could we not?

Many thanks to Daria and Dansko for a fantastic morning and many lessons learned about running a business profitably AND sustainably.

The group with Daria in the company store. And no, we didn’t arrange ourselves in that order on purpose!

ERD: Where does it all come from??

On Thursday, October 14, the Environmental Impact team put together the 4th Electronics Recycling Day for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Despite the dreary weather, enough people took advantage of the free two-hour collection of electronics waste and plastic bags to result in these piles:

Thanks to Rebecca Pineo for helping us throughout, to Ashby Leavell for helping us load up the van, and to Larry Armstrong of the UD Farm for volunteering the van to bring the whole load to UD Supporting Services.

For the curious, the electronics waste collected by UD Supporting Services is sent on to Delaware Solid Waste Authority, which works with Baltimore-based Computer Donation Management, which disposes of the material responsibly in the U.S., rather than shipping it off to developing nations with lax environmental policies. For this ERD, we also collected a number of cell phones, which we set aside to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers. The plastic bags are collected year-round in a bin in the Townsend Hall Commons; they are picked up and processed into new materials by Precision AirConvey.

I don’t know about you, but looking at the amount of STUFF that passes through our hands at the workplace and at home gives me pause for thought. Modern life does seem to require that we throw away a lot of things in order to keep up with what’s new, and nowhere is that so evident as in the electronics we use. The least we can do is make sure that we get rid of these things responsibly, which is why the EI team is happy to facilitate this collection every semester for the College. So if you missed this one, hold on to those dead batteries, old phones, printers, computers, miscellaneous cords, etc. until next spring! You know you’ve got at least a few.

Third time’s a charm…

The third Electronic Recycling Day went surprisingly well.  You’d think maybe after the first two events of this type that the faculty, staff, and students of CANR would run out of electronics to recycle…But they haven’t!  At today’s Electronic Recycling Day, we collected three vehicles full of electronics and transported them to UD’s General Services for use on UD’s campus if possible.  From there they will be stored until enough are collected to be sent to organizations that dismantle the machines as teaching demonstrations of how these items work.

Thanks to Shari Edelson, Andrew Gapinski, and Keelin Purcell for your help monitoring the collection site, loading and transporting of the electronics.  We couldn’t have done it with out you!

Please check out the pictures and start saving your electronics for next time. Thanks again for your participation from the Environmental Impact Team, Jon Pixler and Kate Baltzell.

P.S. We also collected a HUGE amount of plastic bags to be processed by local plastic bag recycler Precision Air Convey…

Plastic bags galore

Kate Baltzell, Jon Pixler, and Dr. Lyons showing off the collected goods

Andrew, Keelin, Shari, Jon, and Kate with the loaded trucks-Crazy!