Scout Leader Tim Szumlanski of Milton, Ontario wanted to reinforce the importance of caring for the environment through an activity led by his scout troop. Since one of Scouts Canada’s values is “protecting the natural world,” he knew any initiative with an environmental focus would be a good fit with the organization. The head of 7 Milton Scouts decided to partner with Quantum for an e-waste charity fundraiser. That was three years ago and it has since become a successful annual event in the community.
In 2017, Szumlanski’s e-waste fundraiser took place on April 8. A local hockey arena let him use a portion of their parking lot for the Saturday morning event that collected about 11,000 pounds of electronics and netted the scout troop $1,100. At the peak of the event, 10 cars an hour were driving through and approximately 200 people donated electronics. The most popular items were batteries followed by older TVs, printers, scanners and VCRs.
“A lot of desktop computers were donated and also old computer monitors. I think it’s because we’re moving to smaller technology,” he said. “People say, ‘The monitor was just sitting there for three years so thank you for taking that off my hands!’”
Szumlanski said that about 25 people were working on site at any time. The adults and scouts helped take items from cars and put them into the collection bins. He provided pizza and hot chocolate for the volunteers from the funds generated from the event.
How to Advertise an E-Waste Charity Event
To create interest in the event, Szumlanski made a graphic that showed the different items that could be donated. It listed the date, time and location of the event and who was organizing it. He distributed the graphic to the other scout leaders who publicized it on social media (mostly Twitter but also a few personal Facebook accounts), through word of mouth and through the scouts’ schools.
Quantum provided 5,000 flyers for the event. Szumlanski rolled them into batches of ten and gave a batch to each scout for distribution to their neighbours.
“The flyers were really helpful. Everyone in the group got some and things spread outward from there,” he said. “We began about a month in advance to promote the event. People now tell us they’ve been saving their electronics for a year for us. When they drop things off, I say, ‘Thanks, you just paid for our firewood or for our camping trip,’ so they understand how their waste gets regenerated back into the community.”
Advice for Groups Who Want to Hold a Successful Event
“Communication is key to a successful event,” states Szumlanski. “Selecting a date about six months in advance is important because people are happy to squirrel stuff away for you if they know the date. Now they text me and say they passed a computer by the road on X Street and I should go by and pick it up!”
A common question is what happens to the data on electronics that people donate, he says. Szumlanski visited Quantum before the first event to understand how the recycling was handled so he could answer any questions people might have.
“We tell them we’re using Quantum and they are certified, responsible recyclers who will safely destroy their items and not ship them offshore. We also provide a hammer if they want to smash their own hard drives.”
The 7 Milton Scouts e-waste event was one of the most successful last year for Quantum, which held 48 events in 2017, three more than the year before.
Michael Dittmar, Generator Compliance Manager with Quantum, says the most popular time to hold an event is April. It coincides with Earth Day and “spring cleaning.” Plus, students are still in school but exams haven’t yet started so they can help publicize it.
For a first time event, he suggests limiting it to one day as longer events don’t translate into more material donated.
If you’d like to hold an e-waste charity fundraiser like the 7th Milton Scouts’ event, contact Quantum today. Then pick a place, set a date and get the word out. Your organization could have extra money from waste electronics sooner than you think!