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Being green could not be simpler Marty Block | Fri, Sep 03 2010 12:00 PM

California has always been at the forefront of efforts to clean up the environment and protect our natural resources. From banning smoking on state beaches to implementing aggressive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming, being friendly to the environment has always been characteristic of what it means to be a Californian.

Being green and doing what you can for the environment does not have to be complicated or expensive. You do not need to run out and spend a fortune on a fancy new energy efficient dishwasher or re-roof your house with solar panels. While both of those efforts help the environment there are simpler ways to approach environmental stewardship and you do not need to look farther than your garage or attic.

One of the fastest growing sources of waste in the nation is E-Waste: electronic equipment and products that have become obsolete or nearing the end of their usefulness.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household. As families come to rely more on electronics in their daily lives they begin to accumulate an excess of computers, televisions, VCRs, phones and other electronics that once become outdated, simply take up residence in attics and basements throughout the state.

Yet simply throwing these electronics away can be harmful to the environment and pose a health risk to the public - in addition to placing an extra burden on our municipal solid waste disposal systems.

Many electronic products include metals that can be recovered by recycling. By recycling your e-waste it preserves our precious natural resources because new metals do not have to be mined from the Earth. What is worse is that some of the products also include high levels of toxic materials like lead cadmium, beryllium and mercury that make them hazardous to the environment when disposed.

For example, a computer typically contains high concentrations of lead. When it is tossed into a dumpster, instead of being recycled, it is sent off to a landfill where its disposal can cause a variety of environmental problems such as groundwater contamination, atmospheric pollution, or even water pollution either by immediate discharge or due to surface runoff (especially near coastal areas), as well as health problems including occupational safety and health effects among those directly involved, due to the methods of processing the waste.

The build up of e-waste is projected to worsen over the next several years until 2015, when volume will peak at 73 million metric tons, according to a survey from Pike Research.

Educating the public is one way to help reduce the volume of e-waste around the world. It is not enough to know that e-waste can damage the environment. Consumers need to know where in their communities they can take their e-waste items to be recycled.

That is why I have partnered with Recycle San Diego to launch Operation Clean and Green: Free Electronic-Waste Disposal & Recycle Drop-Off. This simple and user friendly event provides people in the community the opportunity to drop off their old electronics and do their part to curb e-waste in California.

While California is in the process of implementing landmark legislation to reduce e-waste and limit the hazardous substances used in some electronic products, families and businesses need to become part of the solution.

Whether you have a child going back to school or you are cleaning out the old supply closet, being green could not be simpler. I urge you to participate in the process, drop off your old electronics and do your part to keep our planet clean.

Assemblyman Block (D-San Diego) is hosting Operation Clean and Green: Free Electronic-Waste Disposal and Recycle Drop-Off at Southwestern College, Parking Lot O, on September 4th between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Location: 900 Otay Lakes Road,, Chula Vista, CA 91910.

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