John Daley ReportingToday marks the 35th anniversary of Earth Day. President Bush used the occasion to visit a Tennessee home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There he talked about what his administration has done to protect the environment and encouraged all Americans to do their part.
President Bush: "That obligation is not just a federal obligation, it's a state obligation, a local obligation, and each of us as citizens can do our part as well."
Many Utahns today marked Earth Day by recycling. And it wasn't just paper, plastic and glass, it was computers and cell phones.
What does the survival in the wild of gorillas have to do with cell phones? It turns out, plenty. Cell phones contain a radioactive mineral called coltan. It's mined in a national park in the Congo. Gorillas live there and their habitat is getting wiped out by coltan miners, who are also killing the gorillas for food.
The Hogle Zoo is starting the Donate-a-Phone program, asking its customers to drop off old cell phones to be refurbished or recycled. Half the money raised goes to a charity dedicated to increasing public awareness of coltan mining.
Jane Larson, Animal Care Supervisor, Hogle Zoo: "You're helping the gorillas at the same time, because it really makes a difference. If we can convince these people to do this in a responsible way, we're saving these gorillas at the same time."
Recycling cell phones will keep them, and all the toxic chemicals inside them, out of the landfill and from eventually seeping into groundwater.
The same is true for computers. Two non-profit groups are recycling computer gear today. Some of the gear will end up in schools, some will be refurbished and sold to families at a nominal price. The rest will be properly disposed of, rather than getting dumped in the trash.
Neves William, East Millcreek Resident: “If somebody can use it, that’s great.”
Joe Reaveley, East Millcreek Resident: "I saw the ad in the paper and I've had this old computer down in the storage room for several years; my mom wanted me to get rid of."
A typical monitor will contain 4 to 8 pounds of lead. Nationwide 133-thousand PCs will get dumped at landfills each year.
Andrew Decrans, Utah Tech Corps: "We have to start getting away from that and realized the damage we're doing. And we can't just be dumping this stuff. We need to be recycling it the correct way."
Charley Saba, Computers for Kids: "I think people are very environmentally aware. Businesses especially have had stuff stuck in the closet for five, six, seven years, cause they didn't know what to do with it and didn't want to throw it in the landfill."
Recycling E-trash is a good habit for Earth Day, indeed for every day, and the gorillas will thank you. The Hogle Zoo says it'll offer a one dollar discount on the entrance fee for those who drop off cell phones for recycling. .