Amid a garden made of plastic computer housings, wiring, and circuit boards, Irene Smith is planting seeds. Smith, an instructor at the University of Oregon's College of Education, toils in the field of high-tech recycling, not only keeping computer waste out of landfills but also planting in young minds the idea of eco-friendly electronics.

She does it by showing teachers-in-training the complex problem that computer gear poses when it reaches obsolescence, a lesson they can take to the next generation of technology users when they student-teach.

"Second-, third-, and fourth-grade...

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