Let’s rethink and Restart the inkjet printer

open-inkjet

This inkjet printer is still functional, but was open by our volunteers Jack and Ben and is part of the Open Institute’s exhibit The Future of Open in London until July 3

Inkjet printers have been very common at our Restart Parties, since the very beginning. In many occasions, the meticulous work of our wonderful Restarters has helped to clean, repair, defeat planned obsolescence and give a second life to printers that were just about ready to be taken to a recycling centre.

However, we know that fixing broken printers is not enough. This week we are exhibiting a “transparent” open printer as part of the The Future of Open‘s exhibition in London, to help visualise how printers work.

Next week we begin working on rethinking future inkjet printers, particularly how they could be made better, with better durability, ease of maintenance and less wasteful operation.

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One year, one electronic polar bear

We’re celebrating our first birthday today with friends and supporters.

We have to pinch ourselves when we realise that we have thrown 27 Restart Parties in the past year, involving and empowering over 500 Londoners of all ages, backgrounds and groups. Together we have saved an approximate 393 kilograms of electronics from waste, which James from AccessSpace in Sheffield points out, is roughly the weight of a polar bear.

polar bear Continue reading

Our Midas moment in Brixton

Wow. Just wow. We left Transition Centre in Brixton after three (plus!) hours of repair last night and we had either improved or fixed everything that people brought. Everything!

This was a first for us, and just reinforced how spontaneous and inspiring community events can be. You can sense it in our photo album.

The great repair energy was thanks to our hosts, Transition Town Brixton, but also thanks to the skills and tenacity of Alan from local repair company Commtech as well as Jack and Ben who came from Brockley.

Anne, who brought a broken printer, told us she would have literally gone to the store today to buy another, had we not spent an hour with her Epson. After researching chips, ink pads, and other common problems, it turned out there was a piece of sellotape stuck on one of the rollers!

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The Power of We, consumers of e-stuff

We have started to notice what we call an increasing ‘disquiet’ with the way we consume technology. The iPhone is the most common trigger for this feeling, but it is symbolic of greater unease with short lifecycle of e-stuff, sandwiched by concerns about production, supply chains and then disposal.

You know it’s serious when one of the US’ biggest sketch comedy TV shows goes after the frivolity of tech journalism and reminds us of the human costs of our gadgets.

We are tired of feeling powerless – in some sleepwalking state of mindless consumption. Of course we want innovation, we want progress, but at a pace that makes sense to us as humans.

We decide, not some marketing and manufacturing behemoth. Continue reading

“Permanent Error”

We don’t tend to like to use guilt as a driver for behaviour change. But there is something so powerful about South African photographer Pieter Hugo’s work on e-waste recyclers in Ghana, that we could not resist sharing.

Hugo will be speaking on Friday at Photographer’s Gallery in London – a talk which is already sold out. The exhibition of his work lasts until September 9. Continue reading

What we are throwing away

Our e-stuff is a goldmine. Recently the United Nations University and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) estimated that electronic waste now contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mined from the ground. Annually $16 billion in gold is built into our electronics and at least 85% is not recovered – lost forever.

WRAP estimates that in the UK, between now and 2020, 3 million tonnes of IT equipment, consumer electronics and display screens will be disposed.

This is roughly the weight of 30,000 Routemaster buses EACH YEAR.

According to WRAP, at least 25% of this waste could be reused.

But statistics are often abstractions. What actually happens on the ground? What does this look like? We visited Camden’s waste disposal and recycling site at Regis Road earlier this month.

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Announcing our first grant

We’re thrilled to announce our first grant and a real vote of confidence from Project Dirt and Timberland UK. Their “Earthkeepers” grant scheme is really excellent for green initiatives that have just started to bud, like ours. This small grant is just the boost we need for more and better repair, and for us to start planning how to bring the other parts of our ambitious vision to life.

(And as slow foodies ourselves, always with one hand in the dirt, we are happy to be in the company of so many food-related projects.)