Free Geek Field Trip

On Thursday, March 3, we went to Free Geek for a field trip.

Free Geek is a place where they take older computers where the system has busted down and give it a new system called Linux. They take apart parts of the computer and then they take the important parts and the parts they can’t use they send to recycling places that crush or melt the metals. Some of the things that they take are copper and silver.

It’s important because it’s a cleaner way to recycle the parts that are not needed or parts that cannot be used any more.

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We went on the field trip because of our project called Itadakimasu. It is about where the things we use come from, what stages they go through to get to us.  For example, talking about tomatoes, they start out at the farm and the people who grew the tomatoes try to sell the tomatoes to a company and once they get sold the delivery person takes it to a store and then you or your parents or legal guardian go to the store and buy it.  Then you pretty much put it with other ingredients that have gone on a long chain and maybe put it in a sandwich. Any waste can go into the compost, or for people who don’t compost, it goes into the garbage.

For computers, it’s more complicated. First materials for computers are extracted from the earth and go to factories and are built, then they’re distributed by different distribution chains.  After that, people buy the product and mostly each product is used for 18 months on average.  After that, companies like Free Geek take the computers and recycle or rebuild them in order to keep the computers out of landfills.  This is wasteful and many parts can be used again. A lot of the components in computers are toxic and can harm the soil and the air.  Part of the problem with toxic components is that richer countries send their waste to poorer countries and the people who live there get more than their share of toxins and dangerous work.

Mike, our tour guide at Free Geek talked about the importance of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. Free Geek helps us reduce how much technology we use by fixing up computers that many people might think were too old and reselling them.  In that way, fewer people need to buy new computers.  That’s also recycling and reusing.  If fewer people buy computers, fewer computers are produced.  That’s good because less computers need to be recycled and fewer materials have to be extracted from the earth.

Free Geek is a non-profit and has 10 employees but most of the people working there are volunteers.  You can learn more about Free Geek here: http://www.freegeekvancouver.org/

The other important part of Free Geek is that they use and promote Free and Open Source Software. It is important because it is free to use, and there is support in a community of users to solve problems.  The source code is free and public.

Thank you to Mike for showing us around and teaching us about Free Geek, and thanks to Free Geek for all of the computers in our class!

by DLTMGYD, TechNerd and the DUDE

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