What if we fixed, re-purposed or donated our "stuff" instead of throwing it away?
Yeah...I know...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's a loaded question and may be the subject of a later post.
What are the options currently available for consumers? Besides municipal recycling facilities, some grassroots efforts, like "Buy Nothing" and "Freecycle.org" are enabling people to give and get stuff for free in their own towns: "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?! Someone may want that stuff?!
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, whether it be clothes or electronics.
Our local makerspace in Los Alamos, NM has this free event every other Friday, called Fix-It Friday. The point of it is for people to come together and put their problem-solving skills to the test by helping someone fix their items. 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.
Can we leverage our "throwaway culture" for much needed engineering skills-building opportunities?
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. If you live in Los Alamos, NM, stop by "Los Alamos Makers" for a Fix-It Friday, check out their Facebook page for DIY re-using ideas or just contact them: www.LosAlamosMakers.org.
(This article was published in the "Los Alamos Daily Post" online edition)