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Expanding upon the reduce, reuse, recycle concept

Hello again, fellow readers and fixers! Today, we are covering a concept that is familiar, especially to those of us who are involved in fixing, refurbishing and recycling old, broken and worn out everyday items, including computers, mobile devices and IT equipment. And this concept is known as reduce, reuse, recycle – otherwise known as the three R’s of recycling. This is where we collectively find ways to reduce the amount of materials, the Earth’s resources, and energy we expend, as well as the amount of waste we generate as a society.

Reduce means trying to conserve resources and materials in order to keep the environmental impact to a minimum. We would try to repair items that are brought into our workshops and only suggest replacements for our clients when we are genuinely unable to repair them.

Reuse means finding way to continue use of existing items that are no longer wanted or being used. At BitFIXit, we encourage reuse by refurbishing donated computers that are still in serviceable condition and giving them away to members of the local community. We also recommend refurbished computers to people who are looking to upgrade from an old machine.

Recycle means salvaging materials used in the manufacturing of items that really are unable to be reused and repaired, and then used to make new items. Whenever we accumulate a large amount of broken and unusable computers, IT equipment, components and other assorted items, we enlist the help of Aspire Community Enterprise Sheffield, a local social enterprise that offers computer repairs, refurbished computers and recycling services.

But is it possible to expand upon the idea of reduce, reuse, recycle? Well, we were able to came up with an expanded variation that covers five distinct steps of recycling, in the context of what we do at BitFIXit; renew, repair, reuse, remix, recycle.

Renew means refurbishing, upgrading or restoring fully functional and usable computers, mobile devices, IT equipment and other everyday items. Examples of ways to renew items include: returning IT equipment, smartphones and tablets to factory settings; installing extra RAM and/or a solid state drive to a computer to improve performance; reinstalling operating system and drivers on desktop PCs and laptops.

Repair means restoring computers, mobile devices and IT equipment to a properly working state by replacing broken, faulty or inoperable parts with fully functional parts, removing malware and other unwanted software, or fixing corrupted parts of operating systems such as the registry and system files.

Reuse means salvaging usable, functional parts from computers, mobile devices and IT equipment that are unable to be refurbished or repaired, and then using the salvaged parts for the same or similar designed purpose. It also means finding ways to continue use of functional computers, mobile devices and IT equipment that would otherwise become unused and unwanted. Examples of reusing parts and devices in this manner include: taking the hard drive out of a faulty or inoperable digital TV recorder, and installing it into a desktop PC as extra storage for music, videos, photos and other user data; reusing an old smartphone or tablet as a GPS or satnav for a motor vehicle.

Remix means upcycling parts taken from computers, mobile devices and IT equipment that are unable to be refurbished, repaired, or reused for their original purpose, by turning them into entirely different items, or repurposing them in completely unorthodox ways. To give some examples: inoperable or faulty hard drives can be repurposed as analogue clocks for displaying the current time; heatsink and case fans can be used to improve ventilation in living spaces, or to keep cool during hot weather; working motors salvaged from printers may be combined into a single unit that is powerful enough to serve useful purposes such as propelling a small vehicle, cutting grass in the garden, or chopping, mixing or blending food items.

Recycle, of course, means gathering together any broken, inoperable and faulty parts from computes, mobile devices and IT equipment that could not be repaired, refurbished or repurposed, and sending them away to Aspire Sheffield for their volunteers to recycle.

And that’s our five R’s of recycling! We certainly hope to present new and creative ways to reuse, repurpose and upcycle all kinds of parts from computers, mobile devices, IT equipment, and whatever else gets donated to us! And so, as always, stay safe, keep calm and just keep on fixing!

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