Rachel Treasure’s La Center shop gives a whole new meaning to the old “reduce, re-use, recycle” mantra.
Inside the high-ceilinged, roomy workshop are small mountains of neatly stacked computers, giant cardboard boxes filled with hundreds of discarded computer keyboards and more.
“It’s incredible how many people just throw these things away,” says Treasure’s daughter, Eva Metcalfe, 37. “Electronic devices are filled with toxic materials. When you throw them away, the mercury and the lead … it leaches into the groundwater. And these things take up a lot of space at the landfill.”
Treasure and Metcalfe have a different solution.
“We’re passionate about keeping electronic devices out of the landfill,” Treasure says. “That’s why we started this business.”
The mother-daughter duo teamed up last year to create E-CycleWise, LLC, a business that helps businesses and homeowners get rid of their damaged, obsolete and unwanted electronic devices – without hurting Mother Nature in the process.
“We take pretty much anything that uses electricity,” Metcalfe says. “We get a lot of the ‘all-in-one’ computers, the Apple computers that look like a monitor but are an entire computer … we get laptops, keyboards, VCRs, phones, you name it.”
Here’s how it works: An individual or company calls E-CycleWise and tells them they have one or many unwanted electronic devices. The women arrive on-site and load the device or devices into their company truck. They haul it back to their La Center work site, where they demolish as much as they can and then take the broken-down electronics components to an end-of-life, R2-certified recycler, which safely breaks the components into reusable or recyclable bits of metal and plastic.
For people or companies worried that their personal data is going out into the world, the women offer on-site data destruction services. They can bring a data-destroyer to the pick-up site and crush the memory drive in front of customers or they can take the hard drive to their La Center location and destroy it there. Customers who opt for off-site data destruction services receive a certificate of destruction with the hard drive’s unique serial number and a photo of the demolished drive.
“A lot of people choose to do that,” Treasure says. “They know that they can trust us, and we typically send them the (certificate of destruction) within 24 to 48 hours. It’s a very quick turnaround.”
If people are more comfortable seeing their data destroyed in front of them, Treasure and Metcalfe have no problem bringing their on-site data destruction machine – made from all recycled materials, of course – to the pickup site.
The best part for customers? All of E-CycleWise’s services are completely free. What? How? Yeah, that’s what most people say. But in the electronics recycling business, the money comes from the end-of-life recycling companies, who then sell the broken-down, sorted components to companies that need the raw materials to manufacture their products. It’s a business circle that benefits people and small businesses that need to jettison electronic devices, but don’t want to pay to recycle their old computers and VCRs.
“We’re concerned with keeping these things out of the landfills,” Treasure says. “So we like to educate people about how toxic electronic devices really are.”
On the company’s website, Treasure and Metcalfe write about the importance of keeping electronics out of the landfill: “The speed at which consumers use and replace electronic devices is staggering – 20 to 30 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide every year, with 5.5 tons comprised of computers, cell phones and televisions,” the women write. “Authorized e-waste recyclers in the United States collect more than 100 million pounds of obsolete electronics every year … but much more is simply thrown away. Recycling electronics has numerous benefits, while not recycling (electronics) poses a serious threat to our Earth.”
The two women are so dedicated to keeping electronics out of the landfill, they’ve turned E-CycleWise into a true family business. Treasure’s grandchildren, including Metcalfe’s four children, often help sort devices and learn how to safely deconstruct an obsolete computer or cell phone.
“They love it,” Metcalfe says. “They love to take things apart and seeing what’s inside.”
The same holds true for the mother-daughter team.
“We may be girly girls in some ways, but we love coming out here and … well, breaking things,” says Treasure, laughing. “I come out here on my own sometimes. My husband will find me in here, working, and I tell him, ‘I’m having fun!’”
Having fun, working with family and saving the planet — that’s what it’s all about, Treasure and Metcalfe say.
“We’ve been able to turn this into a full-time business for both of us,” Treasure says. “It’s not going to make us rich, but we love it.”
To find out more about E-CycleWise, visit www.e-cyclewise.com. To arrange for a free pickup of your old electronic devices, email email@example.com or call (360) 952-0931. The business is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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