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Pedal-powered Repair Workshop: Harnessing the Power of an Open Design Community

Based in London, Restart is a social start-up with the mission of promoting repair and changing our voracious, wasteful consumption of e- devices. Read about how we drew upon the OpenIDEO E-Waste Challenge and are continuing to pursue impact.

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Last year, we participated in OpenIDEO's E-Waste Challenge which asked the question: How can we manage e-waste & discarded electronics to safeguard human health & protect our environment? This challenge had everything to do with our mission at Restart. Based in London, The Restart Project is a social start-up with the mission of promoting repair and changing our voracious, wasteful consumption of mobiles, laptops and all kinds of e-stuff. We believe we can (and must!) regain the skills to make electronics and gadgets last longer, diverting them from waste – and have fun in the process.
 
Since mid 2012, we've held 15  60 community events called Restart Parties which empower participants to extend the lifespan of the electronics they own through aided self-repair, and by doing so, actively reducing e-waste. We started on a shoestring, thanks to a small grant from Project Dirt and Timberland Europe. Restart received recognition from Lloyds Bank 
 
We had experimented with OpenIDEO earlier but really felt the creative and collaborative power of its global, online collaboration with this challenge. We were interacting with professionals from a number of different fields, and from around the world, on the issue of preventing electronic waste. Now in 2013  2014, we plan to take some of the best ideas from the challenge and prototype them, including mashing two of our favourite concepts together.
 
The diverse global community submitted 199 posts in the Inspiration phase, which were existing services or analogous ideas from other areas that could be adapted to the issue of e-waste. Some of our favourites were:
 
 
During the challenge we commented on a number of the concepts and participated in a couple as they were collaboratively iterated. Two of our favourite challenge winners got us excited enough to pursue some prototyping. First was a concept by Design for America at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana for an E-CycleTruck, designed to be a mobile platform for awareness raising and waste prevention. They were inspired by the food truck phenomenon in the US. We thought – why not create a Pedal-Powered Repair Workshop, even greener and more appropriate for London? Then it was actually a member of the OpenIDEO community who suggested that a mobile solution (like our rickshaw idea) could be mashed up with Carol Shu’s Farmers' Market "(e)Waste Not" Booth idea – which got us thinking even further.
 
Our Pedal-Powered Repair Workshop would be an avenue to remind people the value of not giving up on their electronics and that that responsible consumption of electronics is better on our pockets and better for the planet. We envision a mobile vehicle to get around and promote local repair businesses at local hot spots. We will set up so that folks can watch and learn about simple repairs. We also hope to collect broken e-stuff and return devices a week later for a pre-arranged fee. 
 
Implicit in OpenIDEO challenges is that it is possible for us, the community, to take things forward – which is exactly what we at Restart Project plan to do.

UPDATE: As of July 2014, we are seeking support for a Pedal-Powered Mobile Repair Workshop – to be used around our offices in central London in a campaign to reduce electronic waste. Please follow the link, comment, vote and show your support. There is huge potential to reach office workers at lunch time in central London.
 
If you were involved in the E-waste Challenge or are an interested designer, repairer, rickshaw enthusiast, or crowdfundraiser – and would like to get involved – get in touch via The Restart Project!
 
Image by Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr

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Photo of Kay Ostar

Very inspirational project! I like the idea of making electronics last longer and empowering others to be less wasteful! Awesome!

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Photo of Janet Gunter

Update everybody! It has taken a while but we are finally competing for funding to create this mobile repair workshop - we've slightly adapted the concept to a pedal-powered workshop, it will probably be bike plus cargo-bay/toolbox. Check it out and show your support please! https://rsanorthbank.crowdicity.com/post/57635

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Way to go, guys – you certainly got my vote! Feel free to let me know how you go in regards to funding by replying to this comment thread. We'd love to help share your ongoing stories of impact. Keep up the awesome work.

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DeletedUser

Is it possible to take the orphaned electronic and mobile devices and establish a chain of distribution/stores to sell them to those who may not desire the latest technology? This would pro long the lifespan of the devices and keep them out of the waste cycle longer. Most individuals I know that have upgraded their technology would gladly give away their old devices for free.

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DeletedUser

I think this is a great concept. what I would like to propose as well is that the mobile manufacturers need to contribute for the environment. They can at least buy the old models from there customers and upgrade them.

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DeletedUser

Yes, I think your idea is basic. We need everyone's effort to make success.

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DeletedUser

I think this idea is wonderful. People needs to be aware of how important it is to protect our environment.