By Prisca Tiassé Yoder, PhD
What if we fixed, re-purposed or donated our “stuff” instead of throwing it away?
Who’s got time for that, right?
Fixing, re-purposing and even donating can be an investment in time AND money. Sometimes it’s just easier to trash it…But where does it all go? Well, that is probably a loaded question.
What are the options currently available to consumers? Besides municipal recycling facilities, some grassroots efforts like “Freecycle.org” and local “Buy Nothing” Facebook groupsare enabling people to give and get stuff for free in their own town: “It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills” (Freecycle.org).
Mmmm…Wait…”Keeping good stuff out of landfills”?!
You mean it’s not all trash?!
Well, it turns out we are a “throwaway culture”. If things don’t work, we mostly move on and get something new.
Sweden has started a tax break program to encourage people to repair goods.
Besides the potential positive effect on the environment, encouraging people to fix things is a tremendous skills-building opportunity. With the right skills, one can re-purpose clothes or even electronics.
“Thrifting” is becoming a thing not just for penny-pinchers but because it not only helps develop engineering skills, it is also a fun exercise in creativity.
According to the World Economic Forum, creativity is one of the top 3 “skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Our local makerspace in Los Alamos, NM (Los Alamos Makers) has a free event every other Friday, called “Fix-It Friday”. The point of the event is for people to come together and put their problem-solving skills to the test by helping someone fix their items or getting help for themselves. A lot of smart people are “mechanically challenged” because people don’t really teach that stuff anymore.
Before one can fix something, one needs to understand how it works. Reverse engineering is a great way to learn engineering. That’s why project-based learning is so effective.
What if we leveraged our “throwaway culture” as a unique and much needed engineering skills-building opportunity?
Someone suggested a “Tear-It Tuesday” or a “Wreck-It Wednesday” event in addition to the Fix-It Fridays…That sounds like it could be a lot of fun…
So before you go to the dump, check out your local “Buy Nothing” or “Freecycle” groups. Someone may be able to make something useful out of your trash.
If you live in Los Alamos, stop by “Los Alamos Makers” for a “Fix-It Friday”. Check out their Facebook page @LosAlamosMakersfor DIY re-using ideas.
The next “Fix-It Friday” is this coming Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. at Los Alamos Makers, 3540 Orange St., Suite LV1. You can also visit the “Event” page at http://www.losalamosmakers.org/events-1 for upcoming events.
Note: This article is modified from The Community Lab’s blog post (The-C-Lab.net).