Consumer electronics are fun and useful — at least, while they are still functioning. When a gadget’s practical life is over, most people just tuck it into a drawer, place it on the heap in the garage or recycle it. But where do electronics go if they are recycled?
The answer to this question is Silicon Valley’s dirty little secret. To oversimplify things, there are just two kinds of recycling: unethical and ethical. Unlike other common recyclables, like newspapers, plastic and cans, consumer electronics are complicated. They’re made up of hundreds or thousands of small components, substances and substances. They can’t just be thrown into a vat and melted down like plastic bottles, aluminum cans and other substances can.
Electronics have to be painstakingly disassembled by hand. And to do it safely requires tons of very good industrial clinics and skilled labour. And that’s pricey. So most of the electronics we”recycle” gets shipped overseas, usually to some of the weakest parts of India, Nigeria and China, where families descend off in unsafe conditions to strip the reusable compounds and metals from the electronics.
The challenge is that folks think recycling electronics is all about just the environment. However, the most urgent problem of electronic waste is that the health of the people who work in the shoddy facilities and that reside in the towns where electronics are disassembled for recycling. (To find out more about this issue, it is possible to watch this video and see the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition website.)
The good thing is that things are getting better
The processes for recycling are becoming better. And a rising portion of electronics are being processed domestically, instead of shipped overseas. Meanwhile, there’s something cool you can do (besides recycling responsibly) to encourage the reason for responsible electronics recycling: Embrace recycled-electronics furniture.
Crunching Numbers G4 Table – $600
There are three advantages to making or purchasing furniture made with recycled electronics. It ensures that the electronics used never end up in some horrible Third World sweatshop. Secondly, it makes a bold statement concerning the need to recycle responsibly — not from sight means not from mind. And next, recycled-electronics furniture provides a geek-chic texture to any area.
Which are you currently trying to highlight in your design schemes? What inspires you? One cool strategy emphasizes the industrial design of bygone electronics. The notion is an electronics product by itself is something of beauty. Hence integrating it into a furniture piece evokes respect.
These goods can be objects of interest because you do not see them everywhere. One example is this Crunching Numbers G4, that is a coffee table made with Macintosh G4s. The machine itself is obsolete. However, the item is too beautiful to destroy or discard. Repurposing it into furniture allows us remember it. Another example is this homemade reel-to-reel coffee table.
Some people are geeky enough to find beauty in the electronic guts of an old computer program. A circuit board another component can show symmetry and attractiveness.
Trading Low Table – $15,000
Benjamin Rollins Caldwell’s Binary Collection represents an extreme example of this genre. His Binary Low Table screams hard-core tech. It has all nitty-gritty components and components, and not disassembled.
Stool-Sculpture-Installation – $2,500
Electronic junk can also be exhibited not as electronics or industrial design, but as the junk it is.
By way of example, a buddy of mine decorates his whole Christmas tree annually with shiny, sparkly electronics he would have discarded.
This stool is made by Rodrigo Alonso with electronic waste, epoxic resin and melted aluminum. It’s sold in limited editions and also in custom settings.