Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why DIY? - Part 3 - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Things are little slow right now on the tinkering front. So during this period of downtime I'm going to spend the next few posts exploring the "whys" and the "what fors" of tinkering around.

As technology continues to improve, get cheaper, and ultimately become more popular the older technology gets pushed aside and tends to find its way into our landfills. Some of it just stops working, but much of it is just old and outdated even if it's still perfectly usable. Obviously the best option for dead electronics is to send it to a reputable recycling center (not the ones that just ship the junk to China to poison them, but the good ones that really recycle it).

But some of this e-waste can also be reused or repurposed. The hacker community is filled with people who take apart old electronics and reuse them in new and interesting ways. Turn a dead low energy light bulb into a short wave radio. Convert your old and tired laptop into a digital photo frame (a project I've been trying to get underway). Old Macintosh computers into fish bowls. Turn an old XBox into a home media server. Older (but not super old) computers may not be able to run Windows, but Linux is making it possible to continue to use such computers with a modern and stable operating system. Many people have given new life to dead printers or scanners when they turn them into robots or even 3-D printers.

Some people have saved up more electronic junk than they know what to do with, but also may be short on other things they need to complete a project. In comes The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk to save the day.

And that's just electronics. There are many great uses for scrap wood, metal, plumbing, old clothing, or even drier lint. I've got a used cookie tin and a metal paperclip box just waiting to be used in some future project. With a bit of imagination and creativity junk can be turned into treasure. This is good for the environment and good on your wallet.

Part 1 - Fun!
Part 2 - Economics
Part 4 - Education
Part 5 - Making Connections

1 comment:

  1. For those who might have artistic inclinations, 'found' objects or used scrap objects are great for the 'altered art' genre...a relatively new art form that not everyone is familiar with. Just google altered art and you will see how extensive it has become. I have dabbled in it a bit and find myself looking at the ground wherever I walk searching for small and interesting finds that can be used in this art form. Old used tins, match boxes, rusty objects, bottle caps, etc are all fodder for this type of art. At Sundance Ski Resort I have seen in their high end gift shop altered art items made of old tins, used books, etc. selling in the neighborhood of $200 each.