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Earth Day 2018: Wet and Wild

Despite the April showers and some initial glitches with the electronics recycling station, the annual Earth Day celebration at UMass Medical School proved to be an example of resiliency in action on campus.

“It was not the weather we hoped for, but overall it was a good event,” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS.

More than 400 people attended the event on April 25 to browse displays by regional groups on sustainable products and practices including products from local farmers, food and craft vendors, energy efficiency products and services.  There was a display of electric assist bicycles and some adventurous folks took a test pedal around the campus.

For the first time in three years the home electronics collection returned. The collection point was set up in the Pine Tree Lot, but at the beginning of the day there were some problems; the collection truck arrived late and the parking gate was not fully cooperating.

“We had some problems, and we apologize to the people who didn’t get access in time to participate,” Wood said. “Eventually, we worked it out so the gate stayed open, but we know some people couldn’t wait or come back later in the day.”

Nevertheless, the collection was a success, with 8,447 pounds of home electronics and appliances taken in by Northeast Material Handling, the school’s vendor for reuse and recycling of electronics and large bulk items.

“I’m glad we did it this year. The truck was full,” Wood said. “We put it on hold for a couple of years, because the collections were dropping, but people clearly wanted to participate and get rid of those items that had been piling up at home.”

Northeast Recycling will hold a similar event at the South Street facility in Shrewsbury on June 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Almost any household item that plugs into a wall outlet, from computers, radios, VCRs, stereo components, toaster ovens, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners or window air conditioners will be accepted for free. There will be a $30 charge for television sets of any kind. Computer monitors, both flat screen and CRT will cost $15 each.

A popular new twist this year was an Earth Day Reuse Trivia Quiz.  Earth Day visitors picked up the trivia card seen below (without the answers) at the UMMS Growing Green table. Then, they had to visit the respective organization’s tables to inquire about the answers. The first 250 people who collected all the answers from those five displays got a UMMS Growing Green reusable tumbler suitable for hot or cold beverages.

“People really loved the quiz, and we found that it helped engage them in discussions with the vendors,” Wood said. “So, I think we’ll definitely do it again next year."