A couple weeks ago I ran into somebody whom I had worked with in the 90’s, and after we got caught up a bit he asked about Free Geek. I gave him the short version of why we exist, how we do things, and what goes on at the site. He asked about volunteering but since he lives in St Cloud (an hour or so northwest of our site) his opportunities to get down to volunteer are limited.
So we talked about other things that Free Geek needs Volunteers to do, and here are a couple that came up.
First was to organize a neighborhood E-waste drive, collect the Electronics, and bring them down, he thought his daughter may like to help with that and I pointed him at the donations page to help them set up a flyer. I made sure to let them know that disposal of Tube Type CRT’s have a cost, and that we generally ask for a cash donation to cover that cost. We also talked about how they should get a feel for the why we are trying to do this, on a simple level everybody understands that recycling is good. But most do not understand that the mercury from a CRT can pollute a significant amount of ground water and be traced back to food grown in that soil. So that lead to the second thing that he could do remotely.
Free Geek always needs ambassadors to help us get the word out about what we do, how and why. We have some basic hand outs that explain this, but most of our new donations can be traced back to somebody else who has donated to us before. Just letting people know that an alternative to throwing E-waste away can make a big impact.
While both of these items can become long term opportunities to help, they also could be done with very little effort to. Free Geek would not exist without the volunteers who do everything within the organization, they (we) are what keeps the process moving and allows us to do what we know makes a difference.
Once again we have a remote pick up scheduled at Jerry’s Foods in Edina, last year we had a significant collection of equipment and weather permitting we hope to again gather significant quantities of gear that might end up in a landfill otherwise.
We hope to have a couple more over the summer as well, so watch the website to keep updated.
Welcome to our redesigned site, just in time for our new Location. Big Changes, but still the same plan. Recycle, Educate, Re-Use, and support Open Source software.
We will be moving for the next few open days, and some in between, so there will be no Break-down, Testing or Build until mid May, the Store is being moved, and that may be limited to what we can locate in the boxes.
Kitty, one of our regular volunteers, lives in Edina. As part of the Edina Day of Service, she organized a “Donate your old computer to Free Geek Twin Cities” dropoff in the parking lot of Jerry’s Foodssupermarket. The weather was perfect, but we had no idea if anyone would show up. Well, the good folks of Edina really came through for us. We received over 50 desktop machines, more than 20 laptops, and about 20 flatscreens. We filled two minivans and an SUV with all the donations. A hearty thanks to Kitty and the people of Edina.
Ka Joog will use the computers in their youth community center which they’ve built as place for high school and college kids to hang out, providing a safe, positive atmosphere.
Meanwhile, our recycle, test, and build operations are in full swing.
Volunteers break computers down to their base materials to be recycled. In the background, computers and components are evaluated in the Test room.
In fact, we’ve gotten to be such a well-oiled-machine in our ability to receive, dismantle, test, and rebuild computers that we are actually running a bit low on fodder for our pipeline. So, we need YOU to dig that old computer out of the closet and bring it to Free Geek where we’ll put it to good use teaching people about computers and helping groups like Ka Joog build a stronger community.
On August 1 we had our first pickup of recyclable materials at our new location. Waste Management/Recycle America sent a truck which took away seven pallets of plastic, CRTS, hard drives (all spiked!), circuit boards, and various other sorted components. We just got the report back from WM/RA and the grand total was 1976 pounds! That’s right, we shipped almost a ton of recycling, keeping a whole bunch of toxins and precious metals out of landfills.
Our last shipment had been in April, in preparation for the garage sale and the move. Considering that we didn’t do any recycling work in May because of those events, nor for a week or two after the move while we settled in, it appears we generate a ton of recycling about every twelve weeks. Plus, we recovered enough valuable materials in the process to not only pay for the truck to come pickup the materials (in the past we’ve hauled it ourselves), but even had a bit of credit left over.
Having the space for pallets and gaylord boxes has been a godsend. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to scale up our recycling as we have. We really are moving along now.
If you haven’t seen our new site, come visit us, and we’ll show you our great new recycling area, where we are making “a ton” of difference.
We got some new shelves built this week, sorely needed. The ‘hose room’, where hoses were hung to dry back when the building was a fire station, is where we have been storing build-machines that are complete as well as in-progress. This isn’t a good arrangement because it’s not always clear which category a machine is in, and the room was getting crowded. On Saturday we started giving completed machines one last check to verify that they’re ready to be distributed, and then moved them to a new home on the new shelves.
We are tentatively planning to have another garage sale in early May. In the coming weeks, we’ll be filling up the new shelves with completed machines, flatscreen monitors, and other computer parts that will be available for purchase at the garage sale. We’re still working on the exact date(s). Check back here for details.
Meanwhile, our recycling process is really becoming a well-oiled machine. We’ve got the routines down of breaking down the old computers & printers to their components, sorting those components into boxes, and segregating the boxes by which recycling partner they need to go to. We used to only sporadically deliver materials to the recyclers; now it’s becoming almost a monthly activity. For now we are relying on volunteers to delivers the parts to recyclers. Since we make a bit of money from the materials, we may eventually be able to pay to have them picked up.