Detritivores are creatures that consume decaying matter. Detritivore designs use abundant waste products to make scalable technology solutions. Unlike loftier concepts of zero-waste design such as Cradle to Cradle, Detritivore design accepts that the world is already loaded with discarded and broken technology. Detritivore designers need not create a recyclable or even non-toxic product, since the materials already exist — we merely try to squeeze out whatever functionality objects may have left.
The Public Lab Spectrometry Kit is a detritivore design. It consumes waste products and uses them to search for other, more dangerous wastes. Pipe cutoffs, obsolete webcams, and optical discs are sufficient to make a functioning spectrometer. The central component, the diffraction grating, is made from CDs and DVDs, disposable media with extremely precise grooves. Long after the media written onto these discs decays into illegibility, they will still function as diffraction gratings, splitting light into a rainbow that can be quantified and used for material identification.