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Activist environmentalist Ranjana Mitra gives e-waste a new life

Ranjana Mitra grew up in Kolkata and came to Canada in 1998 to give her son more opportunities. The architect with a Masters in city planning from IIT Kharagpur and her husband, Sabyasachi, an engineer, knew that architecture and engineering are broad fields that teach localized concepts, many of which do not transfer well.

Her husband found a job at a bank within 15 days of landing in Canada, and Mitra stayed home for a year to help their son transition smoothly. Then she signed up for a Master’s program at the University of Toronto to earn a Canadian degree, learn Canadian ways and to prove what she was capable of. 

While working for a prestigious project UofT had with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Mitra was able to make the connection between the environment and quality of human life. And while mentoring new immigrants, she saw that many couldn’t afford computers for their children. At the same time, she was aware of the huge issue of e-waste.

No one seemed to care about the environmental and social injustice. 

She founded the Community Environment Alliance. Share-IT, a not-for-profit company that diverts computers from landfills by redistributing refurbished ones to those in need in local communities was launched soon after. 

Now Share-IT makes computers and parts available to those in low-income groups, to people in shelters, single moms struggling to make ends meet and to parents with children with special needs. 

“What is the meaning of education if I can’t help find a solution for a problem?” asks Mitra. 

Posted: Jan 2, 2014

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