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Free Geek, e-waste and getting a green computer

Free Geek, the pioneering tech non-profit that has been "helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the 3rd Millennium" has become an almost iconic example of how geek activism can simultaneously empower people through access to knowledge and promote sustainability by refitting old computers that would otherwise be headed off to a landfill.

Now Free Geek Vancouver has made the pitch for helping save used computers all the more explicit -- refit five computers, take home the sixth:

All it will cost to participate in their "adoption program" is 24 volunteer hours. During that time you will help to refurbish six computers, five of which they'll give away to low-income people. At the end of it, you walk away with number six, a souped-up "Freekbox"...

Freekboxes running Ubuntu are a great way to slash into the flow of e-waste. (For more on tech trash, check out this handy Good video). We're all for that sort community-based, direct action.

But that said, we're a long way from real sustainability, still. That's because even the computers we refit will eventually end up headed off to the dump, or to be "recycled" (often a toxic process that wastes most of the materials in the machine). They've just had an extra few years of productive use before they take that trip.

Which is better than nothing, but far from enough.

Enough, unfortunately, doesn't yet exist: a computer that not only incoporates the best available technologies for energy efficiency and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals (or at least aims to) through green chemistry, but is actually designed from the beginning of its life for disassembly, for user modification and upgrades (a.k.a. hacking) and is made to be completely (and truly) recyclable. We need a computer that lands at the intersection of Freekbox and green computer

Such a machine is not currently available, but a dedicated group of collaborators could probably wire together something close enough to be a proof-of-concept. If we can work together to create the $100 laptop, why not a boutique sustainable machine for the developed world? Help the needy get nerdy, by all means, but then lets enable the geeks to get green.

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Comments

just for the record -- "build 6 computers and you get to keep the 6th one" has been part of Free Geek (the original, in Portland) since the beginning.
http://www.freegeek.org/build.php

thankyou!


Posted by: Heather Carver on 10 Aug 07

Hi, I'm french and I'm writing some article for the first french website talking about green IT (As far as I know).

This initiative is great ! Unfortunately we don't have that kind of association yet here in France. But I'll definitely talk about your article and FreeGeek in one of my next article to maybe encourage some Geek to do the same ;-)


Posted by: Frederic on 11 Aug 07

Hi, I'm french and I'm writing some article for the first french website talking about green IT (As far as I know).

This initiative is great ! Unfortunately we don't have that kind of association yet here in France. But I'll definitely talk about your article and FreeGeek in one of my next article to maybe encourage some Geek to do the same ;-)


Posted by: Frederic on 11 Aug 07

Hi, I'm french and I'm writing some article for the first french website talking about green IT (As far as I know).

This initiative is great ! Unfortunately we don't have that kind of association yet here in France. But I'll definitely talk about your article and FreeGeek in one of my next article to maybe encourage some Geek to do the same ;-)


Posted by: Frederic on 11 Aug 07

Please delete duplicates comments, My Internet connexion went down for some minutes and I retried 3 times to send this comment. Sorry about that.


Posted by: Frederic on 11 Aug 07



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