How can e-waste and discarded electronics be managed?

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Hand Me Down - redistributing second-hand electronics

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

Screened applicants adopt second-hand electronics from donors through a placement service that leverages social media in order to create and mobilise a network of e-waste educated consumers.

Electronics donors and adopters interact through a website platform while learning about and drawing attention to e-waste issues. Products donated to the program are inspected and certified and come to the adopter with a warranty plan to maximize their lifespan.

Donors pay a small price to enrol a product (focus on educational electronics: laptops, tablets, iPods, printers etc.). This concept is pitched as a service to maximise the impact of an old electronic device in a new owner's life. Donors feel happier helping another human, and receive validation in terms of participating in a more sustainable lifestyle. The fee covers finding the best new owner possible, but more importantly, it incentivises a stronger investment in the program.

For a small additional payment, you can hand pick your device's new home based on optional site user profiles (increased interaction). Donors can also opt for Facebook integration with the website. Placing your device with a Facebook friend is free (increase social media integration).

Adopters apply to the program by writing a short essay requiring some research and thought devoted to e-waste, and fill out a preliminary survey about the types of electronics they would be interested in. They receive a congratulatory email when they are accepted to the program, and are periodically invited to return to the website to update their electronics preferences, or receive tips about improving their user profiles to increase being matched with their "perfect-fit" donated device. If matched with a device, they receive it for a small fraction (think 5%) of its present value in return for posting their photo with their device on the website (small additional payment if they would rather decline a photo).

The platform for interaction would be a creative website featuring educational materials. In addition to donor and adopter recruiting pages and a collection of user profiles, this could include:

  • A gallery of adopted electronics
  • A HandMeDown electronics adopter spotlight
  • A gallery of electronics available for adoption
  • A contest event (eg. create an informative video about e-waste)
  • Featured electronics with quirky "life-history" stories.

Site content will focus on people-centered language, with content focused on themes of education and connectedness. As much as possible, electronics will be personified, and their relationships with their former and future users as well as their "life experience" and "personality quirks" will be played up. You wouldn't stop thinking about your dog after you put him up for adoption-- is it possible to extend some of that feeling to a laptop? If so, can we use it to encourage greater consideration for later steps in the electronics lifecycle?

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