Repairing with young product designers

We had an excellent day yesterday at Central Saint Martins, one of the University of the Arts London campuses, most associated with product design. We started the day with a lecture to second year students about what we have learned working with hundreds of frustrated electronics owners over the past nine months.

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Our top 4 messages to future product designers… 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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#Firstworldproblems

This project originated from discussions at the ICT4D meetup in London. ICT for “D” (d meaning development) is a term that started gaining momentum in recent decades, although people have been using communications technology for development since the advent of smoke signals.

Ugo and I have both worked extensively in places where communications technology can make a massive difference – where simple mobiles can often literally save lives in everyday situations. And we’ve seen that people’s relationship with gadgets and technology is completely different in most of the places we worked. I often give this example, but even a simple ballpoint pen would have never been discarded in the provincial Mozambican office I spent time in.

What was troubling us more and more was not actually the “underdeveloped” places we worked in, but in fact the attitudes and behaviours of people here back in our northern homes.

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