On a post entitled “Yes We Can. But Should We? The unintended consequences of the maker movement”, Allison Arieff raises interesting questions about the maker movement that need to be addressed. Allison eloquently talks about the maker movement and the risk of causing more damage to the environment than good. According to her, we’re in a period where almost anyone has the tools to make almost anything, but there are doubts whether we are making the right things or too many of the wrong ones. She also mentions the misconception about what 3D printing does and does not enable. It allows us to delight a four-year-old by pulling a mini Darth Vader toy out of thin air, but the 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight. She also highlights the reverse environmental offset, counteracting recent legislation to reduce plastic use through grocery bag bans.
However interesting her ideas seem to be, the Maker Movement stresses the abundance of low-cost standardized products. Their distribution is a massive strain on our environment, so what should we do about that? Most people are so distanced from the experiences of fabrication that we are losing the knowledge of materials and making. Many of us in developing and developed countries live with the limited choices of buying new or doing nothing just because we believe we cannot make anything of value. Our environment needs us to have a new relationship with making: critical thinking, backward-looking kind of making in which people really rethink, reuse and feel they are able to make things for themselves.
It’s high time people all over the globe became skilled creators and producers while also being wise and critical consumers. More of us should be able to repair and make things ourselves instead of just throwing things away . If we see ourselves as makers and are given the chance to develop new ideas and solutions to local problems, we might end up reusing things others would simply get rid of. As the Maker Movement evolves, more and more people engage. One can only hope that we make the right things, and that we all live to make and make to live!