Note to Reader: The below content is a result of one of our team members recycling an old I-mac. Our team member had an opportunity to meet the very busy James Koa.
As I arrived to the Los Altos, California, Green Citizen recycling location, I was warmly welcomed by Nina an assistant. She very politely asked me if I needed any help and asked me to fill out a small survey in the computer while she took the monitor which I had taken to be recycled to the back of the shop. As I introduced myself, I told her that I had come to interview James Kao, the president of Green Citizen.
As I waited for James Kao, I looked around the building and many of the walls were covered with lots of information about e-waste all over the country. I was astonished by many of the statistics and current news. On one of the walls in the building, there were many different posters hung up with pictures of people from Green Citizen working with kids and teenagers from all over the bay area in California.
Green Citizen Inc., is a recycling center for computers and electronics; they are located in the Los Altos and San Francisco. Green Citizen’s mission is to help create a cleaner future, free from harsh toxins and chemicals from electronic waste that pollutes the environment as well as people all over the world.
Green Citizen has been around since April 25, 2005 and since then they have had 25, 000 people go recycle their electronics at their centers and 50 percent of those 25,000 people are returning customers. 10 percent of the customers hear about Green Citizen through word of mouth.
As James Kao, approached he greeted me with a very warm welcome, and was eager to begin our interview. He first gave me a tour of the building. Prior to arriving, I believed that the actual place would be full of machinery that took apart electronics but in the other hand, the building was very neat and organized. The building had two main parts; the entrance which was like a lobby or reception are then there was the back where all the computers electronics where stored. I asked why all the computers and electronics were stored in boxes and plastic wrap and he told me that every Wednesday of the week they shipped all of the electronics and computers to the recycling centers were well prepared to handle such a job. In underdeveloped countries, people are not properly trained to do such a job of taking apart electronics that’s why they suffer such great risks. James Kao said that the people who are properly trained to take apart electronics, are frequently tested for exposure to lead and other dangerous chemicals in electronics, they also wear proper gear while taking apart the electronics. Although this method costs more money, it saves more lives and protects the health of people.
As I continued to ask more question I was very curious to know how they made money. Mr. Kao said that the way in which Green Citizen makes money is that they receive money from reimbursements from monitors and televisions they recycle. They also do business pick ups where they pick up electronics from businesses all over the bay area. Fees range from 50 cents to 10 dollars to recycle.
James Kao had worked with Oracle for 12 years and was a CEO, until he got the idea about starting Green Citizen. Mr. Kao believes that more people especially youth all over need to know more about how electronic waste is affecting our environment. He believes that in order to make a difference and create change in the world and diminish the large amounts of electronic waste, teenagers and young people need to be informed because they are future leaders of the world. That is why Green Citizen is very dedicated to youth outreach, they work with different high schools and middle schools even elementary schools from all over the bay area and teach students how to recycle electronics properly and make learning about environmental awareness fun and an engaging experience.
To find out more about Green Citizen, please visit: http://www.greencitizen.com
Check out the James Koa in "Recycle that Old Dell"