TALKING TEK-TILES: How is Arduino Sustainable?

Arduino image, Chloe Falkenheim

What is arduino? It’s more than just a funny little word that we talk a lot about here as part of the TEK-TILES project. Originating in Italy, Arduino has a way of popping up in articles about tech and textiles. The Arduino project started at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Ivrea, Italy. The project goal was to create simple, low cost tools for creating digital projects by non-engineers.

Massimo Banzi helped invent the Arduino, a tiny, easy-to-use open-source micro-controller that’s inspired thousands of people around the world to make the coolest things they can imagine – from conserving water to changing the color of clothing. Because, as he says, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to make something great.”

But how about these little wonder pods, these gizmos that do a million things in terms of sustainability?

According to Open Electronics, electronic recycling is fast becoming just as important as plastic and steel recycling. This is because arduino boards, as well as some of your common household electronic devices (old VCRs, stereos, tv sets and desktop computers), contain valuable metals and components that can be broken down, recycled and reused.

Like other tools of the fashion trade like scissors as well as knitting and sewing machines, there will always be that question of how to recycle and designing for circularity. For now, Arduino boards allow designers the ability to create, conserve, measure and sample with sustainability in a unique way that might seem futuristic but is as now as the words on this page.