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Lawyers Journal

Eco-Challenge begins second year by launching landscape management, cell phone recycling programs

The second year of the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Eco-Challenge will encourage lawyers to continue environmentally friendly practices by participating in a cell phone recycling program and adhering to a new set of Green Guidelines focused on landscape management.

“I am delighted that the second year of the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge will continue its mission of helping lawyers work toward a healthier environment,” MBA President Edward W. McIntyre said.

The MBA launched the Eco-Challenge with the Conservation Law Foundation in September 2007 and published the first Green Guidelines, For the Office, four months later. The new guidelines will be released this spring and be available online. The cell phone recycling program will kick off Feb 1.

So far, more than 80 firms, attorneys or organizations have signed the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to join the Eco-Challenge. Pledge Partners represent all regions of Massachusetts and office sizes, from solo practitioners in Stockbridge, mid-sized firms in Lowell and major firms in Boston. There are also Pledge Partners outside of traditional law firms and the state of Massachusetts.

“The new Green Guidelines focused on landscape management urge attorneys to consider new ways of greening the practice of law,” McIntyre said. “The Eco-Challenge has also taken on a key issue, domestic violence, in partnering with Verizon Wireless on their HopeLine program to offer several cell phone recycling locations throughout the state.”

The Eco-Challenge is offering cell phone recycling in conjunction with Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program (www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline). The program has collected more than 5.3 million phones, kept more than 200 tons of electronic waste and batteries out of landfills and donated more than $5.6 million in cash grants to organizations that run domestic violence awareness and prevention programming.

Working and broken cell phones, batteries and accessories from all service providers will be accepted at one of three collection boxes: MBA headquarters, 20 West St., Boston; MBA Western Mass office, 73 State St., Springfield; and CLF’s Massachusetts headquarters, 62 Summer St., Boston. Contact the MBA at [e-mail communications] or (617) 338-0675 for more information.

The program collects the discarded phones, batteries and accessories and ships them to ReCellular in Michigan, according to Verizon Wireless spokesperson Michael Murphy. ReCellular (www.recellular.com) has a zero landfill policy and is committed to ensuring all sensitive material is removed by clearing and reprogramming the phones.

The proceeds from New England cell phone collections are directed toward organizations that work to prevent domestic violence and assist survivors through purchasing and donating refurbished phones with airtime or paying for special projects, Murphy said. Among those which have received support are Jane Doe Inc., YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Norfolk County Sherriff’s Department and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

“I think it is critically important for the Eco-Challenge to implement a cell phone recycling program,” said Nancy B. Reiner, co-chair of the Energy and Environment Task Force, which oversees the Eco-Challenge.

Cell phones contain toxic metals, which contaminate landfills and in turn pollute the environment and threaten public health, said Reiner, executive director of the Counsel on Call’s Boston office.

“If lawyers do their part in recycling cell phones, the metals get re-circulated, our landfills are less toxic, and the need for new metal mining is decreased,” Reiner said. “And equally important, we get to share our old cell phones, or the proceeds from recycling them, with organizations assisting domestic violence victims.”

The Green Guidelines, Landscape Management, will be released this spring in time for the planting season. They will promote trading in traditional lawns for natural landscaping and native plants, as well as thoughtful lawn care that considers soil health and pollution reduction.

“The new landscape management guidelines will allow lawyers and law firms to extend their commitment to the environment beyond the confines of their offices,” said Susan Reid, CLF staff attorney and co-chair of the Energy and Environment Task Force. “By cutting down on use of chemicals and using smart landscaping practices, we can curb water pollution and other harmful activities.”

For more information on the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge, or to sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge, visit www.massbar.org/ecochallenge .
©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association