Barrie Earth Hour Super Drive builds community

Two years ago, when new GPO leader Mike Schreiner announced his spring tour of Ontario ridings, he had an unusual request. He asked us to set up events for him, but no press conferences, no rallies, no door canvassing, and no political events. Instead, he wanted to roll up his sleeves and do something good for the community alongside us. All we had to do was create the activity. (Is that all?)

We scratched our heads, then noticed that Mike’s visit coincided with Earth Hour, when everyone is thinking about conserving energy. Somehow we’d link to that. Gradually the idea evolved to help people conveniently dispose of broken, obsolete, or just plain out-of-date electronics. What a great way to make Earth Hour permanent – instead of just unplugging something for an hour, get rid of it altogether! 

Thus began our annual Earth Hour Super-Drive, now on its third year this past March 31st. We even do home pickup by prior appointment. All the e-waste goes to GreenGo Recycling Solutions. The first year was free, but now they pay by the pound. Beyond computers, printers, or monitors – they accept anything with a plug, battery, or circuit board. Old blenders, coffeemakers, lamps, power tools, cell phones, whatever. 

With all this goodwill, it seemed a good idea to piggyback on more good works. We also do a clothing drive for the Barrie Free Clothing Centre and a food drive for the Grocery Assistance Program, a food bank operated by the Elizabeth Fry Society. We ask people to include some canned goods with whatever old clothes or e-waste we pick up. 

It’s a great way to reach out to the community without an overtly political agenda.  It’s also a great opportunity for local volunteers, supporters, and community members to enjoy giving to their community in a meaningful way. We’re always looking for new ideas — maybe having a scale set up to pay people part of the scrap value for their e-waste.  Certainly this annual event will continue in some form. Barrie’s Earth Hour Super-Drive is something we all look forward to every year.

And our riding association gets great media attention for making a positive contribution to our community, while building links with the local businesses and agencies that are supported by the Super Drive. 

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Barrie Greens