Team:Tec-Monterrey/Human Practices

iGEM 2016 - Tec de Monterrey

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Imagine a future where the well being of our planet is not taken seriously, where unawareness and indifference leads to contaminating millions of liters of water and our soils, producing lasting effects in human health and the environment. A world where economic interests shape our moral decisions and where the striking consequences of our actions are relentlessly ignored.

You don’t have to imagine anymore, that future is now. We are living in critical times, where the decisions we make this moment will crucially alter the way of life of future generations. It is said that if you don’t do something about it, you are part of the problem too. We chose to be part of the solution instead.

General Outline

When deciding what our project would be, a key element stood out from the others. We wanted to solve a real and pressing issue that our community faces day after day.

It wasn’t hard to come up with something: we just had to look at our cell phones, laptops, and tablets. We just had to look at the rivers of our city, polluted with TVs and toxic materials. We just had to look at the landfills competing with the mountains for the landscape of our city. We just had to look around our homes, and the answer was right there all along.

The electronic business is the fastest growing manufacturing industry nowadays, producing massive amounts of waste every year. The lifespan of electronics, such as computers and cellphones, is deliberately dropping and new devices keep arising to replace old ones. Consumerism and the unconsciousness of people cause the production of millions of tons of e-waste every year. Most of these residues meet their fate in landfills, where the hazardous substances within the waste end up being released, harming not only the environment, but also the health of civilians in surrounding communities.

After discussing and carefully pondering the effects that all of these issues have in our community, we, as a team, were deeply concerned about the current situation; we realized that we undoubtedly wanted to provide solutions outside the lab as well as inside it. In order to achieve this, we organized our Human Practice in an integrated feedback system: we approached stakeholders and the general community with the purpose of obtaining and analyzing data to assess the severity of the problem. Then, we involved our community in different events aimed to create consciousness about e-waste pollution and the dreadful consequences of incorrect e-waste disposal. We also wanted to inform as much people as we could about the different ways in which they could participate and come up with solutions to help us improve our current situation. Throughout this process, our experience allowed us to evaluate and reshape our project according to society’s needs.

The following is a general outline of the different events and activities we carried out as part of our Human Practices:

Conversation with B.E. Carlos Lara Valenzuela, Manager of Grupo Peñoles.

We approached Carlos Lara, Manager of the Mineral Processing Department of Grupo Peñoles’ Center of Investigation and Technological Research. Grupo Peñoles is the world’s biggest refined silver producer...

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Counseling with the Geomicrobiology Laboratory of the UASLP.

Initially we had some trouble obtaining A. ferrooxidans for use in the lab, however, we were lucky enough to contact Dr. Viridiana García...

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Meeting with CVR, one of the few certified e-waste recycling companies in Mexico.

Besides the impact it had on our project, we never imagined that going to an e-waste recycling plant would have such an impact on ourselves. It served as a harsh reminder of the reality we live in....

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Visits of the general public in our lab

During our time working at the laboratory we received several visits from students of the faculty, high schoolers, professors and parents interested in our project. We explained our project, but we also talked about the severeness of the situation we are facing...

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San Pedro de Pinta & Callejero

Our first core events consisted of direct engagement with our community. With them, we wanted both to create awareness and to evaluate the situation hands-on. For this, we decided to engage by participating in two already existing events aimed precisely at community engagement: San Pedro de Pinta and Callejero...

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Arena Gaming: 5v5 League of Legends Tournament

The video game industry has a huge impact nowadays; a single game like League of Legends can be played by millions of people every day. People meet and communities are created around video games, making this impact even greater. However, few among them are aware of the potential source of e-waste that are video games...

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E-week, an e-waste collection campaign.

Since our project focuses on e-waste and its correct disposal, from the beginning we knew that we wanted to organize an e-waste collection campaign. What we could have never predicted is all the support that our community showed us...

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Radio spots and Panorama Newspaper

As we were looking for ways to reach the Tec community, we sought which media would have a higher influence in them. We found out that Frecuencia Tec 94.9 PM is a radio station about creating awareness throughout valuable content that contribute to the development of a sustainable community...

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E-waste Art

As a way to involve the younger generation and the promising future of our city with our project and paths that can be taken to resolve alarming problems, we organized a contest that would be captivating to all. In this contest...

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Environmental forum

We wanted to reach out to students on campus and warn them about contamination due to e-waste, as well as to create a habit of separating it from other residues. In order to achieve this, we organized a forum in our school with teachers and students aimed to discuss the topic of electronic waste in Monterrey...

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Polls and data analysis

Here you can see the results and data analysis of the surveys we conducted throughout the events: Polls and data analysis: assessing the impact of our project.

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Final thoughts

After everything we went through during our journey, one thing is undeniable: this is only the beginning. There’s so much more left to do, and there is a pressing need for efficient solutions with a sustainable approach.

At first we didn’t know how many things we could actually do to improve our situation, but what we did know is that we wanted to help our community, we wanted to do something about the alarming environmental situation in our city, and we wanted to make a real difference.

We have learned so much in this period of time. This process has opened up our eyes to the disappointing reality we are facing nowadays, a reality where corruption, consumerism, indifference, misinformation and carelessness are decisive forces in our society. However, we also learned that we can actually do something about it. What we made in our Human Practices is just a small example of what we, as a society, can accomplish if we decide to take action.

Brought to you by iGEM Tec-Monterrey 2016


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