Anyone who knew Gerry Newson (24 June 1947 – 8 February 2010) well was in admiration of his remarkable ability to overcome the deepest threat to life – the destruction of the planet – with his work in hands-on recovery and re-use of electronic waste. This whilst battling the ravages of cancer for the past nine years. Gerry remained throughout his challenges, undaunted and silent about his affliction, maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude.
Gerry dreamed of broadening the scope of the NPO, Recover E Alliance, from its base in the Western Cape to the furthest reaches of Africa. This will remain just that – a dream – unless those with equal passion take up the reins of rightful conduct. Gerry was not only a dreamer; he consistently took action on his chosen path with high-minded dedication and love.
From the simple job of collecting unwanted individual computers to research into the many problem areas associated with such waste, to the preparation of funding proposals and the implementation of his strategies to prevent toxic waste from entering landfill sites.
My connection with this extraordinary man began when he was setting up an e-waste section at Footprints Environmental Centre in Wynberg.
Thanks to Gerry, the spark of an idea to create jewelry from the components developed into a small flame of creative endeavour. I started making a unique range of products from components stripped from old computers, while he applied his own creative impulse to the production of beautiful clocks which were exported to Switzerland.
He would grab every opportunity to market the aspects of reducing, recycling and re-using e-waste where necessary. He set up drop off depots for the testing and rebuilding of equipment for other NPOs. He increased public awareness, and research into the development of new markets for products with no apparent commercial value.
With Gerry’s star blinking on the horizon, he will continue to shine, encouraging and supporting far-sighted individuals and organizations with his vision to expand as far as his dreams.
Please think before you discard any electronic waste. If you have electronic equipment you’d like to dispose of responsibly, go to the E-Waste Association of South Africa website and find a collector near you.
By Heather Green