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Few months ago, when I was trying to identify innovative approaches and start-ups related to waste management and circular economy (I am still searching, any suggestion is more than welcomed) I received an email from Alessio De Marchi. I found extremely interesting and fascinating that he runs a  start up that tries to connect e-waste, art, science, and education. WHAT WEEE ARE is an ongoing multifaceted sociocultural multimedia project searching the deeper meanings of the world. A quest through waste and feelings and the richness of the earth, trying to untangle the intricacy of human, so called, society. I asked Alesio for a post, and here it is. I hope you will enjoy it and after reading, visit their website, it’s really interesting. I will follow them up and I wish them all the best for their effort – it’s really worthy!

“There are still debates whether or not we have passed the peak in mineral resource availability, or even if there is a peak to begin with. Nevertheless, day after day our contemporary economic models appear to be running up against the limits of the planet’s ability to support life. Information technology has by all means revolutionized our way of living and is changing global society altogether.

I remember my first time on Internet was somewhere around 1990, or so, I was eight. That makes me a quasi-digital native and in my short life I have already seen so many things change, the dream-technologies of our childhood such as nifty phone-watches and Bluetooth ear-sets are now already old as we move into circuit-tattooing, Internet glasses and virtual reality.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

We live in unprecedented times in the history of mankind; we have developed incredible technologies, which are allowing us to discover new planets and master natural elements. Yet, producing our technologies, even the cheapest ones, requires rare and precious elements. We might have not reached the peak yet, or there might not be any peak, but still, conflicts are on the rise for the control of key resources, and all of our emissions and pollution are challenging ecosystems all over the world. There are many catastrophic conjectures regarding the future of humanity, but as a young adult I still hope we are smart and intelligent enough to make that last minute save; the one that will change the rules of the game. Although Malthus had theorized the end of available resources, yet technology has allowed us to improve productivity and escape his trap. Still, we must change our behavior, use our technology wisely and become responsible people, better known as “consumers”, able to use our incredible technological progress to support life and make our small planet thrive.

We must move away from that Business as Usual attitude in which… you use it, you show it off to your friends, you maybe sleep with it and have it on your person all day long, until one day it breaks, or, more likely, the hardware is obsolete and cannot support those updates and apps you are required to install. You don’t even bother asking the shop if you can repair it, because you already know it will take too long and you just saw the new model on sale for only 19.99$. So what do you do? Well, you buy a new one, obviously! My question is: what happens to the old one? Now, that’s a good question!

This is where the WHAT WEEE ARE (WWA) project comes into play. A young and energetic perspective on e-waste: research combined with Video Art, interactive-workshops and sculptural-installations. In particular, WWA research is based on a questionnaire all people who come in contact with the project are kindly asked to fill out, while other research activities comprise in-lab dis-assembly operations and outdoor e-waste spot and recon activities.

WWA research results, which are in line with other major research results published by recognized institutions, describe figures where more than 50% of non-working and obsolete electronic devices are commonly stored in attics, garages and cellars; while only 15-30% of people interviewed have disposed of their e-waste using formal recycling systems, such as in-shop and door-to-door take-back or collection campaigns.

The objective of the WWA project is to raise widespread awareness over the issues related to e-waste and responsible use of raw materials, educating new generations to think outside the box. We are facing global challenges and our only hope of survival is to shift our global economy and our way of living towards new business models in the circular and creative economy of the new millennium. To achieve this ambitious goal WHAT WEEE ARE is currently creating a visual and creative identity for a recognizable brand. The videos attract audience, which then becomes, in first person, the protagonist of change. During festivals and conferences high-level workshops and artistic residencies involve the audience along with local schools, universities and institutions in tackling the broader issues related to resource availability, technology and everyday habits and behaviors. Finally, through hands-on experience with a screwdriver and some creative suggestions from the WWArtist you can witness first-hand the alchemical mysteries of transformation of matter. E-waste turns into art before your eyes: waste suddenly becomes something you want to see, something you want to have, and through this process, it also becomes food for thought... and just maybe, the WHAT WEEE ARE experience will have changed your life a tiny bit…

I hope you enjoy…”

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