What do you get when you combine computer science, environmental activism and compassion?

According to Greta Ritchard: Win-Win-Win. In our latest student blog, Greta explains how she and her team of volunteers at Arc's Volunteering Program eReuse are reducing e-waste while closing the digital divide.

I’ve always been technologically minded, hence the Computer Science degree, but I’m also passionate about environmental and social issues so when I heard about the Arc Volunteering program eReuse, I was excited. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to combine my passions for technology, the environment and helping people.Greta Ritchard

eReuse is an Arc student organisation that takes e-trash (unwanted computers), transforms them into e-treasure (functioning computers) and then donates them to charitable organisations for distribution among socio-economically disadvantaged groups in the local community.

In other words, eReuse works to close the digital divide while working to reduce e-waste in Australia, which according to the City of Sydney amounts to more than 650,000 tonnes per year, most of which ends up in landfill.

The aims of eReuse ticked all my boxes so this year I applied to be the 2018 eReuse Coordinator. Seeing the tangible effects of my work has been really rewarding. By rebuilding a computer, I am physically reducing the e-waste problem by taking a broken computer out of it, then fixing it up and giving it to someone who would not be able to easily get one themselves and I’m gaining practical skills in the process. It’s win-win-win!

I decided that our target for the year would be working towards a goal of donating 100 computers and I’m very proud to say we’re up to 80 already, with a few months still to go.

We’ve donated computers to a diverse range of people, but one special donation really stands out. A social worker got in touch to tell us about one of her clients who couldn’t leave his house by himself due to disability. He didn’t have a computer at home and didn’t have the ability to purchase one new, so we organized a donation for him. It’s so gratifying to know that our actions have enable him to be more connected with the outside world and it was great to hear from his social worker about how we had helped improve his everyday life.

The eReuse group meets weekly in the UNSW Michael Crouch Innovation Centre for three-hour workshops where volunteers help to repair the computers. The group comprises people who genuinely care about computers, but volunteers don’t necessarily have to have the technical skills at the outset.

We can always teach repair skills, so our primary focus is finding volunteers who are interested in the cause and have a drive to help others. Having a team that is passionate about what we do creates a fun and productive environment that enables us to have the biggest impact possible.

If you are keen to get involved with eReuse, click yourself into the Arc Volunteering website here. We’d love to meet you. Applications open in Week 11.

Imagineering would like to acknowledge Arc who originally published this article in a slightly different format here.

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