100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
New project in Derry aims to recycle bicycles in the area
The renovated bikes are then sold at affordable prices to encourage cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle
Expandable shoes for children aim to cut landfill waste
Eco-shoe brand gets £250,000 grant from sustainability fund to perfect design – with soles the trickiest part
‘There is a strong domestic demand for scrap and metals’
We are hardly recycling 7-8% of e-waste in an organized manner. The govt is promoting awareness, said Material Recycling Association…
Antony Green answers your questions about Election 2022, preferences and how to vote
He's the man in front the big screen on election night, whose makes the decision on when the election is…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
A low-income energy-efficiency program gets $3.5B boost, but leaves out many in need
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act adds the funds over the next five years to help Americans save on energy…
Climate festivals and furniture upcycling: what are last year’s ECHO Environment Award winners doing now?
One winner held a protest attended by 1,000 people
Get all your news in one place

Perth teenager upcycles old electronics and computers to give them back to those in need

Sam Thomas breathes new life into old electronics that would otherwise be sent to landfill. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

At a house in Perth's south-east, broken iPads, laptops, PCs, and phones are stacking up the walls, waiting for Sam's nifty hands to breathe new life into them.

Sam Thomas, 18, runs an e-waste collection point where he repairs broken and thrown-away electronics to give away for free to those in need.

"We have... maybe 60, 70 desktop PCs that are either needing to be fixed or that are fixed and ready to go," he said.

Sam has a shelf stacked with repaired laptops that need compatible chargers. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

The hordes of computers and laptops started arriving after a single post on social media, and Sam's Spares was born.

"We did a post one day just asking for anyone with junk that they wanted to get rid of, to drop it off," Sam said.

"You might look at a computer that's 10 years old and think it might not be usable."

But Sam says basic upgrades are often all that's needed for a piece of tech to meet the needs of most people.

Sam disassembles old electronics for parts in a small workshop. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

"I like computers. I've always had a very big interest in the hardware side, and later on the coding side," Sam said.

Sam's project has grown beyond his local community in the outer Perth suburb of Gosnells, with some willing to travel long distances to support his work.

"We've seen people come from Fremantle, some from Bunbury. We have people messaging us saying, 'we're getting together a load of stuff for you!'," Sam said.

A home to grow community spirit

Diane Lloyd runs the Jacaranda House community centre, which is where Sam fixes computers. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

Generous donations from the community mean Sam sometimes has hundreds of old computers, laptops and phones, which need a space to be stored and repaired.

Most of it sits in a carport of a house that Sam's family has repurposed as a community hub.

Sam's mother Diane Lloyd said she saw the home as an opportunity to rekindle a sense of local connection.

Sam's stepfather Jonathan Lloyd helps him repair and upcycle electronics. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

The Jacaranda House offers a place for neighbours and locals in the community to meet.

Ms Lloyd said people who turn up and meet Sam for the first time often think he is older than he is.

"They don't believe that he's 18. I think that he's got a very mature view of the world," she said.

People are often also surprised to hear Sam is autistic and has Tourette's syndrome.

Computer monitors donated to Sam's Spares. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

He says the conditions manifest in a variety of ways, and seldom mirror how they're represented in movies and television.

"I come across as a very standard person," he said.

Sam hopes people don't overlook his ability to help when they learn about his conditions.

Recycling is the last option

A big part of Sam's project is reducing the amount of e-waste that ends up in landfill, which is a large contributor to Australia's emissions.

Less than a fifth of global e-waste is properly recycled. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

Ms Lloyd says sustainability is part of their family ethos.

"You start researching what tiny percentage of [e-waste] is actually being recycled," she said.

"When we say 'e-waste', the things that people are throwing away are not waste. Some of the stuff is really valuable.

"So if Sam can do his part to stop things going in the rubbish bin, that's brilliant."

Reducing and reusing are more effective ways of minimising waste than recycling. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

Sam emphasised that even if old electronics are beyond repair, there's a proper way of disposing them.

"Even if you want to drop stuff off to be sent to the proper facilities... we will take everything. Even if it's broken," he said.

Sam hopes to one day own a computer history museum. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

The teenager has dreams of expanding the project beyond the confines of his family's house.

"Bigger workspace, a bigger office, bigger storage. We've got a lot of stuff," he said.

"We want a computer history museum... you can have guided tours to see the evolution of computers.

"And we want a gaming space for people who are neurodiverse, who have sensory issues."

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
New project in Derry aims to recycle bicycles in the area
The renovated bikes are then sold at affordable prices to encourage cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle
Expandable shoes for children aim to cut landfill waste
Eco-shoe brand gets £250,000 grant from sustainability fund to perfect design – with soles the trickiest part
‘There is a strong domestic demand for scrap and metals’
We are hardly recycling 7-8% of e-waste in an organized manner. The govt is promoting awareness, said Material Recycling Association…
Antony Green answers your questions about Election 2022, preferences and how to vote
He's the man in front the big screen on election night, whose makes the decision on when the election is…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
A low-income energy-efficiency program gets $3.5B boost, but leaves out many in need
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act adds the funds over the next five years to help Americans save on energy…
Climate festivals and furniture upcycling: what are last year’s ECHO Environment Award winners doing now?
One winner held a protest attended by 1,000 people
Get all your news in one place