Thoughtful e-waste recycling

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Art piece Rodrigo Alonso

Recycling e-waste creatively is a great idea but we need to pay attention to whether we are being thoughtful about it or not. Rodrigo Alonso has made e-waste furniture art pieces as a statement about e-waste and the fact we have so much to recycle. They are indestructable , though. They look really cool but they are literally are going to last forever because the e-waste is cast in epoxy resin. We need to find a different material which is biodegradable because these furniture pieces are seriously geeky and could be part of an e-waste management and recycling programme. It is worth reading the treehugger article on them so you understand the issues at stake. The Greenpeace site keeps you up to date on the green contributions and advancements of different electronics companies. This Pinterest board keeps you informed about creative recycling and what countries are doing to manage the e-waste problem. weburbanist has an amazing array of examples of how people have recycled e-waste in particular and other waste into lighting. From weburbanist there are links out to other eco friendly sites.

Recycling technology

 

Linux Tech Tips acknowledges the beginning of the video is a bit silly. Not as silly as actually letting your devices go to landfill so they can contaminate the soil and water in the area. This video is from Canada but it offers a sensible approach to how you recycle technology. In Australia we know about Mobile Muster for phones. You may or may not know about IKEA for recycling batteries and spent longlife globes. Batteries and ink cartridges can also be taken to Officeworks and some council offices and/or local libraries are battery drop off points. The video makes the point it is important to first gather what you no longer need and cannot be reused and purposed and then look in your local area to find how to recycle what. Yes, you have to make an effort. That’s why the video alludes to the fact that people will just put things in the bin because they can get away with it and because it is still effort on your part to recycle electronic and digital devices. I am lucky I have an e-waste recycling depot near my home now. It is also important to get to know your normal recycler because bit by bit they are coming onboard with e-waste. The e-waste recycler near me will recycle most things for free and then there are charges for things like electric sewing machines. The list is published online and is clear. The video also explains why you get these charges. Collecting and recycling e-waste is not that easy so now we need to make a big effort to try to streamline these processes. We need to make it easy for people to recycle e-waste and we need to find the ways to make it easier for the companies to process the e-waste resources which they recuperate. CRT monitors are heavy and not everyone would be able to load them in the boot of a car. Those weight issues with electronics need to be considered.

So the plan at the moment is:

Collect and separate the waste

Check online for e-waste recyclers near you

Check your local council e-waste programme

Check if your library recycles e-waste of any kind

Check if stores take back items for recycling

Check if stores are e-waste drop off points

 

Sustainable computing

We can do better. We are busy, time poor and run ragged at times but we can do better with our energy use and technology purchases. It’s thinking about it which creates the change and then mapping out a plan which will work, won’t confuse anyone and will make a difference. We can recycle a lot of technology now. E-Waste recyclers are not easy to find , though, necessarily, and are sometimes open for short amounts of time. My e-waste has now made it to organised groups of waste in my garage. I can now recycle in peace because it is all in one spot. I have just replaced one of my monitors with a new (secondhand) more energy efficient one. I had the money to do it so I looked for one at a price I could afford. We can’t just throw things out and replace them. Technology does not come cheaply but it is a case of looking around on the Net and finding the bargains and thinking about how energy efficient and recyclable the new purchase will be. Upgrading is a good option because it is cheaper than buying new and can be done in stages. You need to know someone who can upgrade or learn how to do some of the things yourself.  Yawarra has some good and workable tips as to how you can easily go about rethinking your computing so it is more sustainable. Deborah Howell the associate director of IT facilities at Cornell University has made a slideshow pdf available so that organisations can look at how Cornell goes about sustainable computing. I explained how I made my blogs carbon neutral quite a while ago.  We are doing better to create green technology so we need to keep  doing our bit to make computing and personal technology more sustainable.

Old books as art

Like one of the commenters on this clip , I didn’t know whether to be disturbed or inspired by this. I was brought up with a huge respect for books and the knowledge and creativity they could bring to my life. As a mother I realised I had preached the message well when my daughter was horrified I was going to dispose of the blue Webster dictionary she had grown up with and we had always used and replace it by a brand , spanking new dictionary. The Webster now has a place of honour in her home. I do think we need to move on and I do think we need to move past paper. Some of these works of art are created from very old books which I would have thought had a cultural and archival value. Maybe not. Maybe we already have preserved other copies. If we move away from paper then we shall have all these excess books and to reinvent them into works of art which bring a clear artistic and cultural message is amazing and better than throwing them away. We do need to honour books. I was wondering what I’d do with my set of encyclopedias. Remember when we all thought someone was a genius because they had actually read the encyclopedia Britannica one volume at a time? Those people were revered. Can anyone read the whole of Google? These book artists , though, are making an interesting statement. They are not only very talented and imaginative they are making books spectacular for the visual messages they can now create. You can see more examples on the TED Ideas Gallery and decide where you stand.

Have you got your paperless plan yet?

This is the last post I’ll do for now on the paperless classroom. We can stop using a million sheets of paper a year in our school. We can stop killing 9000 trees a year across a 1000 schools. We can stop putting 30 000 kg of carbon into the air across a thousand schools. We can stop lugging books around. We can stop panicking because the glue sticks are dry or the scissors are blunt or missing. We can stop cluttering our homes and offices with wads of paper and cardboard. We can have space and air and a back and arms which don’t hurt. We can teach anywhere because we just need a board and a connection. We can mark anywhere and don’t always need a wifi connection for that. My year 9s actually negotiated that they would hand in their work on THE USB. I have a special USB for them and they love coming to get THE USB off my desk. I can mark that work wherever I want.  I don’t find marking electronically takes longer. I thought it did but I did actually do test runs on that and compared equivalent “piles” of marking tasks. Initially you are not so adept at electronic marking and you have to factor that in. For senior students I like the comment feature on Word or a pdf doc or I highlight errors/dubious thinking in a different colour. My home doesn’t change anymore during intense marking phases. Nor does my desk get swamped but piles of books and papers. Students get a chance to produce different sorts of assignments and they like that. I get to mark movies, slide presentations, newsletters, images with text and not just writing on a blank sheet. I can get feedback from all my students so I hear all their thoughts and voices. In that sense student input is far more equitable and representative. Get your plan together. There is some good help on YouTube and on the Net. Do the classic set yourself goals approach and work on it one step at a time. It is more than just not using paper. It is a different approach and if you change yourself over gradually you will appreciate the implications of the difference. You are a teacher. You can see the teaching possibilities and opportunities in  anything.

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