Keeping electronic waste out of the environment & making it art

Electronic waste is toxic and not biodegradable, so when not recycled properly, it poses a huge threat to the environment.

WASHINGTON — One local small business owner is doing more than just keeping e-waste out of landfills. 

Amanda Preske, the founder of “Because Science” turns electronic waste into art.

When asked about her favorite thing when new customers see her products, Amanda explained, “It’s so cool because you can watch their whole facial expression change as they realize ‘oh, it’s a circuit board.'”

Amanda was in college working toward a degree in chemistry when inspiration struck her to try a new experiment.

“When I was in labs, I discovered there was broken stuff sitting in there, electronics, stuff that hadn’t been touched in decades,” says Amanda. “And I was like, I want to make something with that.”

A naturally crafty person, Amanda discovered a passion for turning e-waste into jewelry and art. Shortly after, her company “Circuit Breaker Labs” was born and she started selling her work at craft shows in 2007. “People really loved it because they’d never seen anything like it before. I was onto something.”

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Amanda continued her craft while completing her undergrad studies. It even helped fund her master’s degree and ultimately changed the course of her career.

“When I was finishing my degree, I realized that I had built something pretty solid,” says Amanda. “I had customers that loved what I was doing, I was getting bigger deals, commission pieces. And so I realized, upon defending, that that’s what I wanted my career to be.”

So, she took Circuit Breaker Labs and expanded upon it, rebranding a recreated concept she now calls: Because Science.

“The whole goal there is to celebrate art through science, or science through art, combining it all together.”

And her background in chemistry has really bonded with her business.

“In a lab, you really can’t make progress unless you’re willing to take some calculated risks,” explains Amanda. “So in the same way with business, I find that if I set up various experiments, whether it’s a product I want to try or a new tool I want to try, I set up a couple of experiments, try a couple of different things, have a control, have some variables and measure the results in the data that come from that.”

Amanda has outgrown her basement studio here in Capitol Heights Maryland and will soon be opening an interactive store and studio in Adams Morgan. She hopes that “whether it’s a coffee hour with scientists answering questions, or just airing NASA rocket launches, just really making it fun and interactive and helping bridge that gap.”

You’ll even be able to watch the art be made at the store!

“I know that the e-waste that we’re using and turning into art isn’t even making a dent in the global e-waste problem,” says Amanda.  “But what I hope it does do is get people thinking, ‘Oh, wait, I do care where this computer ends up when I’m done using it, how do I recycle it responsibly? How do I do that? And oh, this art’s really cool. I love that you can take trash and do something neat with it,’ and just start these conversations.”

Amanda will have an e-waste collection site at the store and anything not used for art will still be properly recycled by their partner eAssest Solutions based in Falls Church, Virginia.

If you want to have a part in making a difference in our communities, you can also join WUSA9 on Sept. 17 and 21 at several locations in Maryland and Virginia and bring your paper to shred and recyclable electronics. Learn more by clicking here.

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