With the need to recycle our e-waste becoming all the more pertinent in our mass consumer culture, the best thing we can do, as individuals, is to get educated. Educated on the issues and alternative, the solutions as well as the problems. Only through our understanding of the rare earth metals that technology depends on can, we begin to understand the need for the proper recycling of our electronic devices. Though the issue needs to be resolved at the source, creating technologies that don’t depend on resources that can be depleted, we can take responsibility as consumers to ensure the longest and least wasteful life stream for all of our technologies.
One of the biggest resources to ensure the proper recycling of electronics here in Portland is the nonprofit donation and recycling center called Free Geek. Located just west of Ladd’s Edition in the Southeast of Portland Oregon, Free Geek serves as a donation and recycling center for consumer electronics. People can come from all over the community and donate their used electronics to be responsibly recycled either in house to save another device, or in accordance with the Oregon E-Cycles program that ensure the safe and ethical recycling of e-waste.
In addition to taking in e-waste, Free Geek offers a volunteer program in which individuals can learn to build, service, and maintain their own personal computers. In an effort to educate the public on the technologies that society has come to depend on, Free Geek as created a system in which volunteers work at the recycling center and learn to harvest and construct computers from the donated parts in house. This not only allows for the most direct form of recycling, in which parts are directly repurposed for the sake of other devices, but then the individuals go back out into the community with the knowledge to repair and recycle devices in the future.
Free Geek offers a wide variety of opportunities in the community. They offer free classes on a range of topics regarding new technologies and technical developments. They offer grants for schools, non-profits and community change organizations in which Free Geek supplies the institutions with computers and other technical hardware. They offer a number of volunteer programs including internships, group volunteer programs as well the options to build your own computer or adopt one for twenty-four hour of volunteer services.
With their wide variety of resources regarding the ethical and practical recycling of e-waste at the community level, Free Geek sets an example that any city can follow. By offering education and alternatives to the wasteful tendencies of the consumer culture we live in, Free Geek has contributed, in a large part, to the effort to reduce e-waste. Helping to increase the recycling of our ever-important technologies that depend so heavily on the controversial extraction of rare earth metals.
Next Week; What they are doing as producers.