An employee for IBM, Keith Hedgecock works with the solid waste recycling programs and regulatory shipping department at the East Fishkill site in Hopewell Junction. Between this year’s Earth and Arbor days, however, Keith was involved in more than IBM’s technology production. Instead, he spent two days helping to manage IBM’s Earth Day Celebration- a computer give-back program and tree seedling give-away.

For two days, employees were able to give back old computers, which IBM then recycled at a facility that reclaims 98% of the components so that they do not end up in landfills. Though many people are unaware, there are mercury vapors in tubes, lead on circuit boards, and nickel cadmium and lithium in the batteries of computers. Anyone with an IBM badge and access to the East Fishkill site was welcome to drop off computers, regardless of the amount. As such, some employees drove in with vans, dropping off dozens of computers collected from the neighborhood totaling 900 pieces of keyboards, monitors and other computer parts which totaled more than 23,000 pounds.

In addition to the give-back program, IBM gave away 4000 tree seedlings from the DEC nursery at Saratoga. White spruce, Douglas fir, black walnut and buckeye were given away for the second year in a row. Left over trees were given to two different elementary schools and a local Boy Scout troop. The program also brought in local environmental groups to set up booths including the DEC Otter Program, DEC Forestry, Nature Conservancy, Scenic Hudson, Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Keith set up a NYFOA booth. Due to its success, Keith and his coworkers are already talking about how to improve for next year’s celebration. Ideas include opening up the give-back program to all the people in the area, not just employees and to begin excepting cell phones for recycling.

Aside from his involvement with the environmental practices of IBM, Keith has been involved with NYFOA and the MFO program since 1997. His early years with NYFOA were spent as the Dutchess County coordinator, though he spent the past 6 years as the treasurer of the Lower Hudson Chapter. In February, with the support of Jeff Wiegert and Anne Osborn, Keith received the Chapter Activity Award for 2007 at the Farm Show in Syracuse. With the help of the DEC, especially that of Jeff Wiegert and Mike Callan from DEC forestry Region Three who are always available for support and direction, Keith helps to set up woods walks, tours and demonstrations and is currently the chair of the LHC.

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