The youth orchestra that turns waste into musical instruments

Read the full story at Equal Times.

Through the waste at a landfill site in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Asunción, Paraguay, hundreds of children walk with musical instruments, small and large, on their backs. The black cases do not hide a Stradivarius or a cello made from precious woods, but rather violins, guitars, flutes, saxophones and even a double bass made from coins, bits of pipe, plastic, tin cans and the remains of donated instruments.

Their proud owners are members of the Paraguay Recycled Instruments Orchestra, a group of children and young people that grew up in Cateura, a neighbourhood looked down on for its poverty and its closeness to the Asunción municipal dump.


Gowanus Recycling Center Seeks Artist-in-Residence to Turn Junk Into Art

Read the full story at DNAInfo.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and a neighborhood recycling center is looking for someone to prove it.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center is seeking applications for an artist-in-residence to set up shop at its Gowanus e-waste warehouse at 469 President St., near Nevins Street.

The position is unpaid, but artists get a 200-square-foot work space inside the warehouse and free use of any materials brought there for recycling.

In return, the artist is expected to create a product that can be sold at the warehouse and host workshops to teach the public how to reuse discarded electronics.

Willingness to Pay for Eco-Certified Refurbished Products: The Effects of Environmental Attitudes and Knowledge

Harms, R. and Linton, J. D. (2016), Willingness to Pay for Eco-Certified Refurbished Products: The Effects of Environmental Attitudes and Knowledge. Journal of Industrial Ecology 20: 893–904. doi:10.1111/jiec.12301.

Abstract: Refurbishing products, which are increasingly sold in business-to-consumer markets, is a key strategy to reduce waste. Nevertheless, research finds that consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for refurbished products is low. Strategies for a higher WTP are needed in order to grow consumer markets for refurbished products. Eco-certification of refurbished products may be a key strategy here. Drawing on the consumer WTP literature concerning “green” products, we investigate the impact of independent eco-certificates. Our analysis is based on a survey of 231 potential customers. The results suggest that, across various product categories, the WTP for products with refurbished components is significantly lower. Adding an eco-certificate tends to return the WTP toward the virgin product level. We show that consumers with proenvironmental attitudes particularly exhibit green buying behavior. Our findings indicate that eco-certification is often worthwhile because it enhances the business rationale for producing products with refurbished components.

Can Stuffstr become the Uber for stuff?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Recently, I wrote a post for GreenBiz where, among other things, I mused about the circular economy, touching on its generational aspects and also the notion that makers of things really don’t have a good handle on what happens to their products in the post-purchase phase.

Coincidentally, shortly after the post appeared, I was asked to test a new data platform created by Seattle-based B corp Stuffstr that touched on these themes.

The experience brought me back to some work I was involved in roughly seven years ago when I was working on sustainability at Best Buy. It made me realize how little progress we’ve made in the intervening time. At the same time, I believe we’re on the cusp of some fundamental, radical changes in societal consumption patterns that finally may tip the balance towards a more sustainable future.

Turning old smartphones into anti-burglary devices and baby monitors

Read the full story in The Guardian.

With 1bn smartphones lying idle in the US, meet the companies repurposing old smartphones into sensors and security cameras in a bid to tackle e-waste.