United States (Los Angeles)
Despite being born over a thousand years before the invention of the computer, Saint Isidore of Seville is considered the ‘Patron Saint of Computers’. According to the Catholic Church, in the early 600s the writer attempted to create the first ever record of all human knowledge up to that point – kind of like the Internet.
Isidore would not be happy today. Fast forward to the 21st century and our planet is seeing more and more discarded devices like phones, TVs, computers, radios and printers wreaking havoc on our planet.
Today California has two major problems; their landfills are overflowing as recoverable and reusable components mix with toxic materials, leeching into soil and groundwater in landfills worldwide, and their prisons are overflowing too. That’s why an e-waste recycling company is becoming the fastest-growing waste stream in the world.
Since 2011, Kabira Stokes has been on a mission to give a second chance to the things our society sees as disposable – ‘throwaway’ people and trash. She started the aptly-named Isidore to troubleshoot both electronics and people’s lives by providing recycling services and job training and employment opportunities for Angelenos who face severe barriers to work – primarily formerly incarcerated people who emerge from the criminal justice systems and struggle on the outside. She wanted to make sure people can get quality employment when they exit the prison gates.
Now renamed Homeboy Recycling, ex-inmates work to break down electronics into base parts – picking out the abundant and highly valuable plastics, metals and fibres – they are not just recovering precious value from e-waste, but themselves too.
Kabira Stokes and Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, founders