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Greening Electronics

In a switch from traditional door-to-door sales, a softball coach in Riverside, Calif., launches an electronics recycling drive. His secret? A Dallas-based company that resells and refurbishes used cell phones, digital cameras, Gameboys, and MP3 players, helping schools raise thousands of dollars in the process.


By Kenny Berkowitz


With all the improvements in technology, Americans are now replacing their cell phones an average of once a year. That leaves an estimated 130 million phones gathering dust, and that's just a drop in the bucket when you combine them with all the broken laptops, iPods, Kindles, digital cameras, digital video cameras, Gameboys, GPS equipment, radar detectors, MP3 players, and ink jet cartridges.


In an era of rapidly filling landfills, it's a serious problem. But in Riverside, Calif., where coaches and boosters at Norte Vista High School are working overtime to fill the athletics funding gap, it's also part of the solution.


Last month, in a shift away from more traditional door-to-door sales, Head Softball Coach Ian Fish launched an ongoing drive to recycle e-waste into softball equipment. The Braves began their collection with a Saturday morning fundraiser at school staffed by 50 members of the varsity and j.v. softball teams. As the drive continues, softball players will provide much of the labor, collecting, boxing, and mailing the used electronics to the Dallas-based company Recycling Fundraiser, which recycles thousands of pieces of used equipment every month, selling some for parts and refurbishing others for resale around the world.


The company, which boasts of more than 40,000 organizations currently participating in its recycling program, provides a downloadable fundraising kit on its Web site, which includes instructions, posters, scripts, templates, and advice on planning a campaign, determining goals, identifying donors, setting up collection points, stewarding volunteers, and enlisting the help of local businesses.


Recycling Fundraiser promises to pay for every piece of used electronics it receives, whether it's working or not, and e-mail a detailed report of the value of each shipment. For example, a broken phone may be worth a few cents, and a working phone could fetch as much as $300.


For Fish, it looks like a promising strategy in a time and place when many families are hard-pressed to come up with the cash donations that drive traditional fundraisers. If all turns out as he hopes, the drive will continue year round, and the Braves will have enough money to start the spring with new softballs, pitching machines, and dugout covers.


For more information, see: www.ecophones.com.


Kenny Berkowitz is an Assistant Editor at MomentumMedia Sports Publishing. He can be reached at: kb@momentummedia.com.



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