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Recycled electronics raise money for solar panels

October 30, 2018 GMT

One of the most eye-catching donations at the West Green Club’s electronics waste recycling drive was a TV manufactured long before the high schoolers were born.

Club members, who were hosting the drive in West High School’s parking lot Saturday, got a kick out of the cathode ray tube TV they estimated was from the 1970s. However, the group didn’t take it because TVs couldn’t be accepted.

“I was like, ‘Are you sure you want to get rid of it?’” said junior Sophie Miller-Grande, figuring it was worth something as an antique.

Another curiosity was a wooden floppy disk holder, said club member and senior Ruby Lambert.

They were some of the many items brought to the event, which raised money for solar panels for the school.

The event also had another purpose.

“Any sort of way to raise people’s awareness that all of us can actively impact the environment,” said senior Lily Sandholm, club co-president. “Even if they can only donate one thing, they will still have that in their mind.”

The club hosted the drive in conjunction with Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin, which provided the bins for the items and hauled them away at the end of the event. Ian’s Pizza provided lunch.

Anyone could bring in an item and make a donation. Club members said about half the people donated in amounts from $1 to $40. The event, which is held once or twice a year, tends to raise about $1,000 but raised $805 this time.

The club also was selling $5 small zipper bags made out of snack food packaging that isn’t recyclable. Sandholm researched how to do it and then got help from senior Rachel Jaworski to make them.

Before the latest event, a total of $100,000 had been raised for solar panels. Last year when West graduate Charles Hua was president, the club had set a goal of raising $50,000 and if that was achieved, the school district pledged another $25,000 to get them installed. The club ended up surpassing its goal by $25,000 but the panels have not been installed yet as the district decides how the project should be done.

Patrick Grady, a West English teacher and West Green Club adviser who started the club in 2001, said the challenge is to buy enough panels to cover the school’s carbon footprint and provide energy for other schools.

“We really want to push the envelope as a student-led club,” Grady said.

The club plans to recognize any individual or group donor contributing $500, which basically pays for one solar panel, by putting their names on a plaque made by the school’s woodworking students.

Sandholm has been in the club since she was a freshman and while she also joined other clubs that speak to her interests in math and science, she has become more involved in the environmental club.

“As the years have gone by, I’ve realized environmental sustainability is the cause I care the most about,” Sandholm said.

Co-president and senior Lucas LoBreglio joined when he was a junior after he returned from spending a semester during his sophomore year at Conserve School, which is designed for environmentally and outdoor minded high school students and located in Land O’ Lakes.

“It kind of allowed me to continue my education,” he said. “It also allowed me to apply what I learned in Conserve School to my life back home.”