We aim to extend the useful life of products, keeping them out of the waste stream, while also empowering consumers to see do-it-yourself repair as a viable option for dealing with minor damage and performance issues. We also use our repair and troubleshooting interactions as an opportunity to engage consumers in conversations about product design, materials sourcing, reuse, recycling, and other issues related to electronic device production and sustainability. Finally, we provide experiential learning opportunities through volunteering and employment for UI students in a variety of academic disciplines.
In 2017 alone, we managed to keep 347.7 lbs of materials out of landfills through repair and special collection recycling. Let’s keep this going strong!
As our project grows, so does our impact! Below are some illustrations of the impact we’re having on the University of Illinois campus, its surrounding community, and beyond. This page will be updated periodically, so check back regularly for revised statistics and information.
Weight of devices diverted from landfill
We record the weights, in pounds, of the devices we work on with clients and if the item is successfully repaired, or if we provide appropriate information on reuse, donation, or recycling opportunities for items no longer wanted or repairable, we consider the device as having been “diverted from landfill.” (Note that in IL, 17 electronic devices are banned from landfill, but because many consumers are unaware of the law, items may still end up in the trash if individuals do not know how to dispose of them properly. Note also that the figures below do not capture devices diverted from landfill as the result of email interactions and advice; these numbers only represent devices that have actually been worked on at our physical location or pop-up repair clinics.)
Spring 2017: 139.7 lbs.
Summer 2017: 38.8 lbs.
Fall 2017: 34.2 lbs.
Total repair weight diverted in 2017: 212.7 lbs.
Total since project began in Fall 2015 (last updated Dec 2017): 378.3 lbs.
Not bad, considering electronics keep getting smaller and lighter, and that we were unable to officially open our workshop for regular public hours until the fall of 2016 (prior to that time we operated in a limited fashion for those who did not require ADA accommodation).
The following chart shows the percentage of different devices types we’ve worked on in 2017. Note that we are not limited to working on these types of devices–if you can carry into our shop or a pop-up clinic, we’ll do our best to help you with troubleshooting and repairs!
What does “misc” include? Miscellaneous gadgets like oscillating fans, solar lights, portable hard drives, and mp3 players –remember if you have small appliances with electronic components we’ll help with those too. If it’s got a plug and you can carry it in, we’re willing to give it a try!
UI student involvement
The following UI classes have interacted with the Illini Gadget Garage:
- ARTD 591 PL (grad)/ARTD 391 PL (undergrad), taught by Professor William Bullock in Fall 2015 semester. Are you interested in working on a new campus initiative with others from engineering, industrial design, graphic design, architecture, and marketing (business and advertising) to establish the new Illini Gadget Garage? If so this class may be for you. See the course flyer for more information.
- LIS 451 A4, Intro to Network Systems, taught by Dr. Martin Wolske in Fall 2015 semester. Hands-on introduction to technology systems for use in information environments. See the iSchool web site for more information. See the web site created by students who volunteered at the Illini Gadget Garage for their service learning project: http://kenshinrogie.wixsite.com/gadgetgarageproject.
- LIS 490 IL, Informal Learning Spaces and Pedagogies, taught by Dr. Martin Wolske in Fall 2015 and 2017 semesters. Explores the design of space and pedagogy for informal learning in libraries, museums, and other public and private collaborative spaces. See the iSchool web site for more information.
Students have the opportunity to volunteer to assist in our daily operations. From time to time hourly staff openings are also available. See our “Meet the Volunteers” and “Meet the Staff” pages to learn more about students past and present who have become members of our team.
Through the Illini Gadget Garage and related projects of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, the University of Illinois participates in the iFixit Technical Writing Project. Through classes, special projects, or as part of volunteering or working at the Illini Gadget Garage, UI students write repair guides for the iFixit web site. See our “iFixit Student Guides” page for a list of guides that have been created by UI students.
In 2017 semester, 80 people worked with us to troubleshoot and repair their own devices. Hurray for them–they’ve been added to the growing number of folks for whom repair is no longer an intimidating idea! Note that this number does not include people for whom we have simply answered questions at our pop-up clinics or via email or social media–this is strictly the number of individuals who performed guided work on their devices.
As of 12/31/17, we’ve repaired with a total of 136 people and counting! To see what folks are saying about the assistance we provide, check out our “Testimonials” page.
Pop-up clinics and other outreach
In addition to regular open hours at our physical location, we conducted 50 repair pop-ups throughout 2017, including those at the Undergraduate Library Media Commons, the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, the Student Sustainable Farm Stand on the Quad, and two Teen Tech events at the Champaign Public Library. Additionally, we made our way out to 20 local events with informational pop-ups, spreading awareness of our services and our mission to Champaign-Urbana students and community members. If you’re interested in hosting a pop-up, fill out “Host a Pop-Up Clinic” form. Please note that fees may be charged for pop-up clinics, particularly those that are hosted by businesses for employee engagement rather than public events; for questions and pricing contact Joy Scrogum.
We are proud to have participated in the following campus and community events where we spoke about the importance of repair of electronics and sustainability, performed demonstrations, and provided hands-on activities for the public. (Note that the list below includes some of our pop-ups.)
- Holiday Lights Repair Workshop (December 2017)
- Campus Sustainability Celebration (October 2017)
- Quad Day (August 27, 2017)
- Presentation to the Sustainable Living Learning Community (LLC) (August 23, 2017)
- We hosted a free screening of the documentary Death by Design at the Champaign Public Library. The panel discussion that followed featured Joy Scrogum, ISTC, UI industrial design professor William Bullock, and Urbana U-Cycle coordinator and member of the Illinois Product Stewardship Council Courtney Kwong. (August 22, 2017)
- The Taste of Champaign (August 18 & 19, 2017)
- Urbana First Friday (July 2017)
- Student Sustainable Farm stand (weekly on Thursdays at Anniversary Plaza outside the Illini Union, for a total of 7 weeks, Summer 2017)
- Volunteer Info Sessions (IGG events, 2017)
- Sonified Sustainability Festival (2016 & 2017)
- I Love Illinois Week (2017)
- Environmental Expo (2017)
- Teenspace at the Champaign Public Library (1 during spring, 1 during the summer 2017)
- Spring Into Repair Open House (IGG event, 2017)
- iPhone tear down demonstration (IGG event, 2016)
- Recycled Holiday Crafting workshop (IGG event, 2016)
- Campus Sustainability Celebration (2016)
- Urbana America Recycles Day Celebration at Anita Purves Nature Center (2016)
- Illini Gadget Garage Grand Opening (officially open to the public upon completion of renovations for ADA compliance, 2016)
Beginning in May 2017, we began producing a podcast for WEFT 90.1 Community Radio, to provide information on troubleshooting, repair, device maintenance, recycling, and related issues for the benefit of the Champaign-Urbana community. See our “Podcasts” page for links to each episode.
In 2017, we’re offered an educational webinars and a few workshops to help educate the public about electronics repair and related issues (click on the “webinars” link to see archived recordings and slides). We have high hopes for adding more workshops and webinars in the future!
- July 27, 2017 What the Tech? Learn Basic Electronic Component Function with the Illini Gadget Garage (webinar)
- August 1, 2017 Group Teardown Worskhop (guided dismantling of identical ThinkPad Laptops)
- December 10, 2017 Holiday Lights Repair Workshop
Project coordinator Joy Scrogum taught a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI at Illinois) on Reuse as a Sustainability Strategy in Fall 2017. One of the course sessions will focus on repair and the Illini Gadget Garage will be presented as an example. See http://olli.illinois.edu/courses/current.html#contemporaryissues.
Besides writing posts for this web site (check out the “Archives” listing on the side bar to catch up on past posts), we also share information related to sustainable electronics issues, repair, and consumer information via our social media platforms. See the links in the “Socialize With Us” box on the side bar to connect with us.
Collections of Special Materials for Recycling
To further our efforts to foster a sustainable campus and reduce waste in our community, IGG has started collecting certain relevant materials for recycling, including CDs, DVDs and their cases and batteries.
Throughout 2017 we mailed 5.5. lbs of CDs and 24.5 lbs of CD cases to the CD Recycling Center of America. That’s quite a hefty amount for what’s usually lightweight plastic.
Also, During 2017 we filled and sent in 2 collection buckets via the Battery Solutions program and then offered mixed battery recycling, accepting both single-use alkaline batteries AND rechargeable batteries, via Call2Recyle. We receive “confirmation of reclamation” letters from the battery recyclers we work with, which include statistics so we can keep track of the weight of batteries recycled via our efforts and the break down by chemistry. As of June 2017:
Total weight of batteries recycled: 105 lbs.
Weight by chemistry: NiCad 11 lb.; NiMH 1 lb; Zinc Carbon/Alkaline 56 lbs.; Li-ion laptop/modem 15 lbs.; Alkaline/Zinc 4 lbs.; Lithium Primary 1 lb.; SSLA (small sealed lead acid) 16 lbs.; Other 1 lb.
If you value these recycling opportunities, please consider donating to support the educational outreach efforts of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). ISTC handles the administration of the IGG, and uses the SEI support funds to continue this project in various ways, including the purchase of battery collection containers. Visit our secure online donation form to make at donation to the UI Foundation for these activities: http://www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu/SEIdonation.html.