In the natural world, there is no such thing as waste in time or space. The output of one process is the input to another.

We cannot on a finite planet, have a linear process, where we mine, manufacture, use, then throw away.

Nor, on a finite planet, can we have infinite growth. We have enclosed the natural commons, social commons, intellectual commons, there is nothing left to enclose, we have reached the limit of growth.

On a linear system, the stuff that passes through our hands, on its way from mining to disposal, spends six months in our possession. All that environmental destruction, pollution, sweat shop factories, just six months before we throw away. We then have the problems of disposal.

The fastest growing waste stream is electrical goods.

TechStart based in Aldershot, run by volunteers, is a step in the right direction. They take in old computers, check them out, wipe clean the hard drive, install a new operating system (Windows 7) and put them on sale at low prices. Ideally they need to upgrade the machines, more memory and bigger hard drives, as some of their machines are so low spec as to be unusable.

As well as turning around computers, that would otherwise add to the waste stream, they will load Microsoft Office (far better to load Open Office), repair machines.

They have an area of working machines, which are available for teaching, or for people to pop in and use. There is also free wifi.

Located in The Galleries, probably the worst location in Aldershot (a dead shopping centre), but at least they only pay a peppercorn rent.

Opening hours 10-4 Wednesday-Saturday.

Their limiting factor at the moment is shortage of machines. Therefore if you have an old machine, work for a company, TechStart will be only too happy to take off your hands.

TechStart currently do not recycle mobile phones or tablets.

A mobile phone can be mined for its gold and other valuable materials, recovering about a dollars worth. There is a company in Holland that does this, phones are incinerated, around a kilogramme a week of gold is recovered. Or phones can be refurbished. A refurbished smartphone will sell for around $100.

FairPhone is a step in the right direct. They source their materials from conflict free zones (the raw materials are one of the main causes of conflict in Africa), use marginally better manufacturing conditions, and the phones are easy to repair (thus extending their lifetime).

FairPhone is a raw Android phone, lacks the clutter of other smartphones (exception being Google Nexus 5), retails at around 310 euros. It is easy to repair, parts are readily available. It is supplied unlocked and takes two sim cards. Additional memory can be added.

If you cannot open and repair your smartphone, you do not own it.

TechStart is a good example of gift economy and collaborative commons in action. Volunteers are working to provide cheap computers for the local community (in some cases free) and reducing the waste stream going to landfill or incineration.

TechStart is a very rare example of a good news story coming out of Aldershot.

We need more local businesses like TechStart, that work in the collaborative commons, that retain and recycle money within the local economy.

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One Response to “TechStart”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Instead of building on TechStart, supporting other social enterprises to form a hub, the dysfunctional local council has pulled the funding.

    Unless alternative funding is found, TechStart will close end of April 2016.

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