Grim reports involving social and environmental issues can keep us up at night. My personal response to these challenges began by volunteering at Tech Dump. Their job-training model, which uses electronics recycling and refurbishing to employ adults who face employment barriers, impressed me.

Since its humble beginnings, Tech Dump has expanded from 110,000 pounds of salvaged electronics in 2011 to four million in 2016. Likewise, the number of workers has grown almost tenfold. We recycle anything with a cable, cord or battery (except large appliances). Computers, cell phones and many other items are accepted for free. Using unwanted electronics to create job opportunities for adults in recovery or after time in the criminal justice system is one benefit. As is the convenient drop-off locations and drop-off events around the metro.

As a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher, Tech Dump sells electronics at significant discounts to many local businesses, nonprofits and individuals who want to save money while protecting the environment and supporting the job-training work. For example, one laptop purchase funds a week of job training for an employee.

Tech Dump's principles reflect our commitment to solving the challenges adults face when they either lack job experience or have something in their past that others believe make them "unemployable." The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports 75 percent of ex-offenders remain unemployed for up to a year, and the more time they spend unemployed, the greater the likelihood of re-offending.

You can impact your community and protect our environment when you gather up your "pile of denial" - yes, you're not the only one with a pile of unwanted gadgets in your basement - for recycling. And shop at our retail stores before heading to a big box retailer. Never underestimate the impact of a small action.

Amanda LaGrange is the CEO of Tech Dump.

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