Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!
Geeking Out With Nicola Harper, E-Waste Ecopreneur
You don’t have to be a computer nerd to appreciate amazing gifts for geeks designed by Nicola Harper. A former Waste Management Engineer, Harper boldly takes repurposing to a new frontier with her company GEEKWARE. There’s a wide selection of jewelry and accessories, all created from computer waste she rescues from landfills. The materials used in her fun salvaged items would otherwise have been trash! Old keyboard keys and circuit boards from Macs and PCs are transformed into keychains, cufflinks, earrings, necklaces, pins and magnets. Call it eco-fashion, trashion, or whatever you like- it is quintessential geek chic.
Based out of Edmonton, Canada, Harper not only designs the creative wares you’ll find at her online store, but she also sources, cleans, assembles, and packs every order.
It’s hard to say which is her favorite project so far. “The fun part is coming up with a new design or way to use a particular item of e-waste, and develop the design until it really works well.”
After visiting landfills all over the world, she left her job in Waste Management in 2004 to become the founder of Acorn Studios. Four years later, Acorn Studios became GEEKWARE. “The biggest landfill I ever visited was in Reno, Nevada…their landfill is massive and so different to the ones up here in Canada. It is a very dry site so the waste doesn’t degrade, whereas the ones I’m more familiar with have to deal with snow and rain which makes the waste degrade much quicker.”
Recycle Rinse Repeat
“We go to yard sales, recycle centers, and damp, dark basements so you don’t have to. We are always on the prowl for retro geeky goodness! Some computer keys show signs of wear through years of typing, which adds to the charm of the pieces.”
Sometimes she gets keyboards that have sat outside for a while, and they can be covered in mud. “It’s fun to wash those off outside and see what the keys look like underneath. Sometimes they are sun-damaged, but other times the mud has preserved them since they were dumped 20 years ago!”
Finding materials in landfills requires a lengthy cleaning process before the cool geek item is sent to you. “I usually give the keyboards a scrub down before popping off the keys with a knife, and the keys soak overnight in a bowl of cleaner,” explains Harper. “Then I scrub each one clean with a nail brush, and rinse them again. They sit on a towel in the sun until they are dry inside and out, ready to be transformed into something geeky.”
For Harper, recycling runs in the family. “My mom used to keep a box up on the top shelf called the ‘Useful Box’, containing all sorts of saved materials. We’d get to craft with egg cartons and empty match boxes and packaging, creating our own little treasures as children. So I grew up loving recycle crafts, and now as an adult it’s developed into my worklife too. I try to recycle everything!”
Display Your 3R Pride
Other inspired gifts for geeks from Harper include clocks made from old Atari and Commodore game cartridges. These are great gift ideas for any occasion! This awesome 3.5-inch diskette notebook has 50 pages and fits in your pocket or purse. There’s also a version using 5-inch floppy disks. Give them a new life on your desktop as the front and back cover of a cute notebook. No file conversion will be necessary to read these notes!
Most of her creations are available in limited editions, so get them while you can. GEEKWARE also uses new shipping boxes made from 50% recycled paper fiber. The packing peanuts used to protect orders during shipping are recycled and are sourced at the Reuse Center in Edmonton. Remember that you can always reuse packing peanuts again! Spend some time exploring her online store, where you can also find information about quantity discounts and special orders. If you have old diskettes or obsolete computer keyboards, GEEKWARE would be happy to recycle them for you. Please contact Nicola first to make arrangements for one of the best. Recycling programs. Ever!