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Behaviour change and electronics

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What if we could hypnotise you into using your e-stuff longer? That would mission accomplished! Loooook into my eyes. Well when we mention “behaviour change” perhaps it sounds like we want to control your thoughts and actions.

But what we are most interested in is how to inspire mindfulness and give positive options to people.

All we really need to do is hint at the ills caused by over-consumption of electronics, both to others (at mining, assembly and disposal) and ourselves and our wallets.

And for us, it is not enough to prevent e-waste.

Instead we are keen to reinforce a sense of ownership, attachment (a positive one, Buddhists!) to the things we buy. We feel that Restart Parties – where people diagnose problems together and participate in the repair of their stuff – are just one way of reinforcing this empowered ownership of electronics.People tell us these moments can inspire a kid-like feeling that anything is possible, a moment of a loss of fear, which can translate into a new attitude towards stuff. So our volunteer repairers are more than just that – we hope they become “restarters”, educators who help restart devices and restart relationships to electronics.

But these community-driven events will never be enough to help us reverse the tide of decades of consumer brainwashing, irresponsible manufacturing and marketing of electronics.

There are plenty more sources of inspiration for thinking on how to change our relationship to stuff.

We’re really enjoying a conversation on OpenIDEO’s Ewaste Challenge about using public health campaigns as an inspiration for e-stuff. (Janet grew up in the country that brought the world some of the most effective public health campaigns.)

We’ve always taken inspiration from food – the way people are starting to pay more attention to the “lifecycle” of food. With work on food, there are such immediate, tangible and tasty dividends. (Ugo got his start working with the Slow Food movement.)

We think that only through experimentation with certain creative ideas and links to other sometimes seemingly unrelated areas that we will find what truly inspires change, and how best to share and scale that.

Do you have great ideas about how to spark a “restart” of the collective mindset? About how to empower people, get them excited about tinkering, truly owning and caring for their stuff? Please share in the comments thread below!

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