UnMaking with Scavenger Labs

Like making things, but the other way around.


Unmaking photo

We didn’t invent this- people have been dismantling things as long as they have been mantling them. We did invent the term ‘Unmaking’ so it’s only fair that we should get all of the credit, because that’s what branding is all about.


Jump down to our Guide to Unmaking HERE. Avoid the hazards are reap the rewards.

We are producing a short video ‘the Art of Unmaking’ in association with the Festival of Thrift Upcycled 2020 which will be released as part of the festival September 12-13. Check back here for the link.

Unmaking photo


Our quick list of what is useful ewaste for Unmaking and upcycling.

Obviously the first thing is to check that no-one wants the item. Be very very sure about this before you start dismantling someone’s treasured computer.

Good stuff:

  • Computer tower
  • Older electronics
  • Anything that runs off batteries and makes sounds
  • Anything with moving parts like motors & fans


  • Anything that someone would want and could be fixed
  • Laptops, monitors, anything with screens
  • Anything with sharp edges
  • Anything that’s dirty, rusty or leaking battery acid

Why do UnMaking

Obviously we aren’t expecting to solve the global e-waste problem by dismantling a few defunct computers. There are several reasons why we are so keen on Unmaking:

Increase awareness: Lecturing people about e-waste (or most things it turns out) doesn’t seem to work that well, so it’s better to engage people with interesting activities through which we can all learn to think differently about the consumer products that are so prevalent in our lives.

Free resources: One of the main ideas of Permaculture is to make use of the resources that you have. There seems to be quite a lot of this e-waste knocking around it some of it constitutes very useable free resources for Makers and Tinkerers, so it makes sense to use it.

Skills: It’s not always easy; you have to quickly learn how to use the available tools. Choosing the right screwdriver and applying the right pressure is a steep learning curve for most adults as well as young people at our workshops.

Learning: Many inventors started off by taking stuff apart. Cracking open these shiny magic boxes and seeing what’s really going on inside is a perfect way to learn how things work.

Fun: Having run many Unmaking sessions we can safely say that most people just enjoy taking things apart.

Empowerment: Reset our relationship with technology. Nothing pops that consumer bubble like a hammer hitting a smart phone.

UnMaking Rules

Safety: There are many potential hazards to Unmaking- please refer to our Guide to Unmaking HERE before you take a hammer to your mum’s laptop.

Disposal: It is very important that you take e-waste that you don’t use to the WEEE section at your local tip so that the UK government can dump it on developing countries.

Genuine waste: If we break something that could have been repaired and used by someone then we are contributing to global e-waste ourselves. There is a lot of grey area here: an old computer could potentially be fixed up, but will anyone actually want it? As designed obsolescence ensures that older machines will not run updated apps and software, it is often the case with digital technology the hardware could work for years but would still be obsolete very soon after manufacture. Unmaking photo