The Texas Campaign for the Environment (TEC) opens an office in Houston today and plans to be hitting the streets organizing door-to-door this afternoon. They’ll be talking to residents about recycling options, including the Texas Computer Recycling law that went into effect last week -- oh, and collecting donations for the cause.
Program Director for TEC Houston Zac Trahan tells Hair Balls, “We have a team of activists that go door-to-door. We educate residents about environmental issues and organize community support, and organize public pressure on decision makers. For instance, right now we’re putting public pressure on television manufacturers to offer free television recycling.
“There are a lot of toxic components like lead and mercury that are in all electronic components, anything with a plug or a battery. Some of those chemicals are already appearing in mother’s milk, in tissue samples from babies, in meat and dairy products in Texas supermarkets,” says Trahan.
“The lead and mercury are very toxic to human health and it turns out that some of the electronic waste that is being shipped overseas to Asia appears to be a source of the lead that is then put in children’s jewelry that is exported to the US from China. It’s a recycling toxic loop,” he says.
(Just a note: another recycling expert told us, “I’m not sure there’s any way to tell that.”)
But back to that collecting donations bit. Trahan tells us, “People behind the doors provide 95% of our organization’s budget. We ask for contributions everyday from every neighborhood we go to. We’re very self-sustaining. Each [staff] person who is out in the community raises enough not only to pay their own salary, but also to help keep our office open.”
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Last year the 30 staffers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth-area TEC office raised over a half a million dollars from their door-to-door organizing efforts. (Just another note, that averages out to $16K and change each.)
Hair Balls tried to talk to someone from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the role organizations like the Texas Campaign for the Environment play in the state’s overall environmental plans (especially organizations that are requesting donations door-to-door), but all we got was a short note from Lisa Wheeler saying “Most recently we partnered with Texas Campaign for the Environment, in promoting computer recycling initiatives. We appreciate and encourage participation from all interested parties related to environmental issues.” Okay, good to know.
You can find out more about TEC here.
— Olivia Flores Alvarez