Below the Old Gym at William Penn Charter School in East Falls, jumbo cardboard crates filled up with discarded computers, printers and coffee makers; everything had a cord. There was even an electric lawnmower. Above, on a basketball court turned into art gallery, students perused found object sculptures by renowned artists like Leo Sewell, Steve Tobin and Dewey Blocksma.
Lynne Dorman, the parent chairwoman of the art show, said it was her goal to tie the school’s triennial art show and its annual e-waste drive together leading up to Earth Day on Monday. The theme of the art show was “Arts + Re-Creation” with a focus on nature and recycling. The artists who donated their time and work were paid with old junk for new projects like buttons, hula hoops or bowling trophies collected by the school.
The exhibit was open to students and their families last week and those who attended were encouraged to bring their old electronics in for recycling. On Sunday, the school hosted its e-waste drive in the middle school parking lot.
“People just drive up, open their trunk, we’ll take the stuff out and they can just drive off,” said Jonathan Howe, a biology teacher and coordinator of the Green Club. “We need to keep these hazardous materials out of the landfill. These chemicals find their way into our water systems, our wildlife.”
Along with electronics, the school is collecting used alkaline batteries and CFL bulbs. Everything will be recycled through eForce Compliance, a partner of the EPA. They cannot accept large kitchen appliances like ovens and refrigerators.
“This is our earth and we have one opportunity to sustain it and to preserve it for future generations,” said Dorman. “We can’t blow that opportunity.”
Joseph Van Dusen and Alexis Wilkinson are students at Temple University. This piece was produced for Temple’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab in partnership with WHYY’s NewsWorks.