A significant hurdle to overcome is educating people about e-waste and its environmental and human health-related issues. If people are well informed they’re better equipped to make thoughtful decisions regarding the use (hopefully extended use), disposal, and reuse of unwanted electronics.
My school, UC Davis, has electronic waste recycling bins for batteries, cd’s, and cell phones but the bins don’t provide any information about e-waste hazards. Out of sight, out of mind! They keep e-waste out of landfills but they aren't a comprehensive enough solution. The town of Davis has a beloved farmers’ market two times a week and the crowd is extremely culturally and socially diverse. Given the popularity of farmers’ markets, they’d be great places to set up an interactive and informative booth where people could learn about electronics recycling and reusing, as well as reducing their electronics consumption. As Sabine pointed out in her Battery Collection inspiration post, it's easier for people to drop off e-waste at a location that they already regularly visit - therefore the booth would also serve as a drop-off spot for unwanted electronics. A fun, quick, and easy activity for people to repurpose old electronics would engage people and give them something to take away as a reminder of responsible e-waste usage, disposal, and re-usage. The booth would be transportable, easily put up and taken down, and also replicable so volunteers could host one at any farmers’ market.
The booth would be part of regular weekly farmers' markets. Some cities have farmers' markets twice a week; Davis has them on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings but during the late fall and winter the Wednesday crowd isn't as robust. Saturdays are popular all-year round so the booth would be part of the Saturday markets but we could host occasional special events on the other market days.
The general schedule would be:
1st Saturday of the month - swap party: people bring electronics that they want to exchange or donate. They fill out a little form stating the condition of the item and the form is taped to the item so people know if it’s useable. Any leftover items will be disposed of appropriately. >> building on Paul's comments about making a Repair/Swap/Trade/Recycle community and Guilherme’s Electronics Trade Club (making it physical and not just online-based); inspired by Thao Vo's inspiration post, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, for a different challenge (http://tinyurl.com/968ed5z)
2nd Saturday of the month - repair party: volunteers teach people how to repair their electronics. We’ll supply the tools! We’ll recruit skilled volunteers by teaming up with repair organizations (like the Fixit Clinic - http://www.facebook.com/FixitClinic) and seeking out volunteers from the community. In Davis, for example, UCD students in engineering or other tech majors could volunteer at the repair parties. Repair services would be free of charge and people will learn how to diagnose and fix their own electronics. >> building on Janet’s wonderful comment about pop-up repair parties & her suggestion to team up with the Fixit Clinic; also building on Kelly Hering’s DIY Recycling Community concept and teaching people how to fix/repair/modify their electronics safely.
3rd Saturday of the month – reuse workshop: volunteers will lead DIY reuse workshops and show people how they can repurpose their broken electronics into fun new things. We’ll supply the tools needed and the repurposing materials. We’ll recruit creative volunteers by teaming up with reuse organizations (like Aggie ReStore in Davis, or East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland) and seeking out volunteers from the community. The workshops would be free of charge and the materials would be donated by the local reuse organizations or purchased at thrift stores. >> building on Kelly’s idea of teaching people how to modify their electronics safely to avoid exposure to hazardous materials.
Last Saturday of the month: We will co-host a special large e-waste collection with the local waste removal service. People can drop off items such as microwaves or fax machines and the waste removal service will pick everything up afterward for responsible disposal.
Every Saturday: People can recycle their unwanted electronics*, learn about e-waste, see clever and creative examples of repurposed electronics, ask volunteers questions, and get information about local repair services and our partner organizations. The booth would also have an educational toolkit people can pick up and a list of useful online websites like the Story of Stuff, the Good Guide, and iFixit. >> building on Guilherme Negri's The Life of your Phone concept (http://tinyurl.com/9gp254s) and the need to educate people on how to shop more wisely when purchasing electronics. Also building on Meena Kadri’sNeighbourhood E-waste Champion concept (http://tinyurl.com/9axd6jw).
*Important note: The size limit for electronics at the swap and repair events would be something manageable for a small space - nothing bigger than 2' x 2' x 2' and nothing heavier than 30lbs. After visiting the Cool Davis booth (Davis’ community sustainability initiative) at the Farmers' Market and getting feedback from them (they advised against weekly large e-waste collection because it would require a large vehicle for pick-up), I've updated the size and weight limits for regular e-waste recycling to also be 2' x 2' x 2 and under 30 lbs.
Publicity & Outreach
We'll have a Google Calendar (see image) and Facebook page to keep people updated on events. We would post relevant links to news stories, other e-waste and repair events, and DIY projects on our Facebook page, all helping to establish the "(e)waste not" booth/organization as an important part of the local community. Pairing with Meena's Neighbourhood E-waste Champion concept, we would create an educational toolkit with a summary of the information at the booth. It would be posted online and we would also have print copies at the booth that people can take to share with their friends, clubs, organizations, offices, etc.
1. Apply for grants - in the US, one good opportunity is the EPA's Environmental Education Regional Model Grant (http://epa.gov/education/grants/)
2. Donations from repair services - From my previous experiences tabling at community events, I've noticed that people who attend are pretty open to contributing to causes that directly benefit the community. After the initial financial investment in tools and workshop materials, booth maintenance costs would be low (basically just replenishing supplies & buying materials for workshops) so even a small number of donations would make a big difference.
3. Donations from reuse workshops
4. Local waste removal services, local city governments, or recyclers - Mutually beneficial partnerships; they may provide a little bit of funding for the booth.
Reuse Project Credits
January: Ryan McFarland of www.zieak.com; http://www.instructables.com/id/Wallet-made-from-a-computer-keyboard/
March: Nidhi Sinha; http://www.styleguru.com/entry/bracelet-telephone-wire/
April: Diaphane; http://www.instructables.com/id/Notebook-from-old-Floppy-Disks
June: brucedamose16; www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Recycle-an-old-dead-cable/
August: happy_mac; www.instructables.com/id/IDE-Bookmarks-New-life-for-old-cables/
September: Scrapdash; http://scrapdash.blogspot.com/2008/03/cd-coasters-tutorial.html
October: inspired by Diane Gilleland's project - http://www.craftstylish.com/item/43650/crafting-with-vhs-tapes/page/all
November: inspired by imanalchemist's project - http://www.instructables.com/id/E86165FIENERIE2PV6/
Some excellent resources: