It’s scary how quickly electronic gadgets and gizmos can pile up. Not surprising, however, given that pretty much every time you turn around, there’s a new version of your cell phone, television and computer.
I used to store old electronics and small appliances in various nooks and crannies in the house, garage and basement. But as the focus shifted more toward recycling and reusing, I began dropping them off at one of the e-waste recycling locations around the city.
A few weeks ago, while looking for somewhere closer to home, I discovered Equal Opportunities West (EOW). Located at 851 Cavalier Drive and 3713 Portage Avenue, EOW is a not-for-profit charitable organization that supports community members with disabilities through a range of services and programs, including their e-waste and recycling program.
Part of the goal of that program is helping people with disabilities find meaningful work, and EOW is “… actively seeking donations and contributions of e-waste from businesses and the private sector to ensure these busy hands keep moving.”
When I dropped off several old computer towers, printers, and other electronic bits and pieces, I discovered that workers there break down each item, stripping wires, removing screws, and dismantling circuit boards. The separated materials are then sent to Urbanmine, a local scrap metal facility, which pays EOW for the parts.
Each person involved in the e-waste program is paid a portion of the money generated as a result of their work, which can make a big difference to those who only receive basic assistance.
Some of the computers are also refurbished in EOW’s tech department. Then they are either sold or donated to other organizations, used in-house, or even sent to other countries, including Africa.
All that detailed and valuable work “acts as a physiotherapy tool, helping develop or improve fine motor skills.”
In fact, according to Executive Director Susan Morgan, “Individuals have learned some very good skills getting these computers up and running again.”
From what I saw while I was there, people were very busy and enthusiastic about the work they were doing. Clearly, donating to EOW is a win-win for everyone involved.
So, next time you upgrade your computer, cell phone, television, and small household appliances, donate the old ones to EOW and help ensure equal opportunity by keeping busy hands moving.
For more information and a full list of donations they accept, visit EOW’s website at www.equalopportunitieswest.com.