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February 15-21, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley


Goodwill E-Cycling

The busy bees at Goodwill Industries are eager to get their hands on discarded hard drives, unwanted monitors and other "gathering dust but I don't know what to do with it" computer equipment. The nonprofit Goodwill Industries, which provides education and job training for disadvantaged people, is now accepting donations of e-waste, electronic equipment at the end of its useful life because it's obsolete or no longer functioning as it should. The items will either be refurbished and resold or broken down into component parts to be recycled. "We want to get the word out that this program is in place," says Peter Lee, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire. "If this program takes off the way we think it will, we want to be sure we have the personnel in place." As of Feb. 9, new state regulations prohibit putting computers, televisions and even batteries in the household garbage can and sent to a landfill. The average computer has four main hazardous materials: lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. The picture tube in a monitor contains between two to five pounds of lead and other toxins. Goodwill is now reusing or recycling e-waste, providing jobs while also removing unwholesome materials from the landfill refuse stream. Nine Goodwill sites in Sonoma County (listed online at www.gire.org) are accepting computers and most types of electronics, working or not, as well as small household appliances in sellable condition. Marin County's two Goodwill stores, in San Rafael and Novato, also accept computers, but televisions must be functioning and no larger than 25 inches. Unfortunately, Napa County residents are out of luck, because that area's only Goodwill outlet closed two years ago. "We've been looking for a new store site ever since, but the vacancy rate is low and the rents are high," Lee explains. "We're still hunting [for a Goodwill location in Napa], but we haven't had any luck in two years."

Still Drying Out

The New Year floods may already be distant memories for many, but there are pockets of damage throughout Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties where people are still struggling to recover. FEMA grants and low-cost loans are available to uninsured and underinsured individuals and businesses. "Even folks who have insurance should register [for assistance]. They may be underinsured or have a gap after the insurance settlement," says FEMA spokesman Noel Baker. For details, call 1.800.621.3362, or visit a disaster resource center in Guerneville, Napa, San Anselmo or Santa Rosa.


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