Members of the Purchasing, Waste and Recycling Sustainability Working Advisory Team (SWAT),
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Illini Gadget Garage (Ongoing)
The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaboration of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the UI School of Art and Design, and the School of Information Science (The iSchool at Illinois). Staff from all these units provide support and guidance, while ISTC coordinates efforts and administers seed funding granted by the Student Sustainability Committee and external donations. The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative repair center for student and staff owned electronic devices (and other small tools and appliances with electronic components), that works to:
- extend the useful life of products, and thus conserve the natural and human resources invested in their manufacture
- provide experiential learning for students through associated classes, volunteering, and participation in the iFixit Technical Writing Project
- empower people to see do-it-yourself repair as a viable option for addressing minor damage and performance issues
"Collaborative repair" means that clientele sit down with Gadget Garage volunteers and staff members to work together on troubleshooting and fixing issues with their devices; people do not drop off items for repair by someone else, which they will pick up later. The project combats the mainstream belief that electronics are too complex or expensive to repair by welcoming and assisting students and staff of all technical experience levels to perform "do-it-yourself with assistance." The project also aims to build community around product stewardship, providing opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and skills, as well as information and conversation regarding impacts of electronic products through all life cycle stages and responsible material management.
As of July 2018, through repair assistance and collection of special materials (e.g. single-use and rechargeable batteries, CDs and their cases) the project has diverted 740.88 lbs. of material from the waste stream.