Video available here.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. But there is a way to curb the spread — allowing consumers to repair and repurpose used devices. This solution is the driver behind the Right to Repair — a movement of technologists and climate activists calling for a new tech circular economy that prioritizes the collection and recycling of consumer electronics to prevent environmental degradation.
The advocates face multiple obstacles. Among them, a lack of access to proprietary parts, shoddy manufacturing, and pushback from tech companies who argue that the repair of old cell phones, TVs and other tech creates security risks for consumers.
In this panel, we will hear from community leaders, scholars, and activists from the tech, environmental, and repair sectors, advocating for consumers to have the option to repair, not just buy. We’ll also hear from those on the front lines of e-waste and innovation, and those who study the colonial and historical ties to violence created by the use of technology. Together, these panelists will elucidate the current state of affairs around the right to repair and discuss what a collective reparative future might look like.
Kenia Hale (she/her) is an emerging scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy and the Ida B. Wells Data Justice Lab. She graduated from Yale University in 2021 with a B.A. in computing and the arts with an architecture concentration. There, she researched social justice urbanisms, and completed her senior thesis titled “Algorithms of Protest: How Protests Change Cities and Cities Change Protests.” Hale is interested in environmental justice, racial justice, and the implications of big tech and surveillance on communities of color, especially across the Midwest. At CITP and the Ida. B Wells Data Justice Lab, she researches liberatory technologies, digital marronage, and Black Techno-Ecologies. You can find her online at keniahale.com and on social media at @keniaiscreating.
Grace Akese, Ph.D. is a geographer and discard studies scholar interested in the geographies of electronic waste (e-waste). She has produced geographical scholarship on the spatiogeologies of e-waste, and asks where e-waste travels, who works with it, and under what conditions. She studies across the “global south” and shows that instead of trails of e-waste leading to dumpsites overflowing with debris, the paths of discarded electronics also lead to production sites where electronics are transformed and recirculated through reuse, repair, repurposing, and remanufacturing activities. Joining the African Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth as a research fellow, Akese is currently exploring the relational entanglements of e-waste geographies as they manifest in ideas and practices of circular economies (ethical design, repair, reuse, care & maintenance, and marker space cultures). Find her on twitter @Grace_Akese.
Joycelyn Longdon is an environmental justice activist and academic. Her research centers on the design of justice-led conservation technologies for monitoring biodiversity with local forest communities in Ghana. She is also the founder of ClimateInColour, an online education platform and community for the climate curious. The platform is a launchpad for critical conversations but also a space of hope, a space to make climate conversations more accessible and diverse. Longdon seeks to transform how people learn about, communicate and act on climate issues. Find her on twitter @climateincolour.
Emmanuel Alie Mansaray is a self-taught engineer, researcher, creative thinker, influencer, motivational speaker, geologist, environmentalist, inventor, entrepreneur a a renewable energy enthusiast. He is the creator of the Imagination Car and was featured in the 2022 Documentary “For Tomorrow,” presented by the United Nations Development Program. In 2023, he graduated from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. Find him on twitter @AlieEmmanuel.
Peter Mui is the founder of Fixit Clinic (www.fixitclinic.org) which conveys critical thinking and troubleshooting skills through both in-person community repair events around the U.S. and now, globally via Intergalactic Zoom Fixit Clinics and Discord: Global Fixers. Nearly 800 Fixit Clinic events have been hosted at libraries, elementary, secondary and high schools, colleges and universities, and through teleconferencing software. “Education, entertainment, empowerment, elucidation, and, ultimately, enlightenment through all-ages do-it-together hands-on fix-n-learn community-sponsored and community-led discovery, disassembly, troubleshooting and repair.”
Mui has keynoted for the IEEE Consumer Technology Society (CTSoc) at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Zero Waste USA annual conference, and has presented to WIRED magazine’s RE:WIRED Green Climate Action Conference, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Armed Services, the American Library Association the California Library Association, Zero Waste Washington’s Repair Economy Summit and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He has appeared on the PBS Newshour, Voice of America News and the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the E-town eChievement Award and the California Resource Recovery Association Pavitra Crimmel Reuse Award. Find him on twitter @FixitClinic.