Okay, your iPhone is not directly causing a problem; rather it, in combination with all the other electronics of the world, contributes to a devastating global issue–electronic waste dumping. Even more devastating, however, is the fact that the very people who fuel the endless cycle of electronics consumption have no idea that this problem exists*. The latest and greatest gadgets hit the market, and the old (and usually, perfectly good) devices fill our closets, trash cans, and maybe (but likely not) our recycling bins. Out with the old, and in with the new, right? Well, it’s not that simple.
As this video illustrates, there is no magical place called “away” in terms of electronic waste. In most cases, “away” is a smoldering dumping ground on the other side of the ocean where children burn electronics to salvage their scrap metals, inhaling toxic fumes in exchange for a few measly dollars. And, if it’s not the fumes that hurt, then the dangers of a crime-ridden electronics black market add to the harmful impact. Whatever the issue may be, “dumping” creates serious, and in some cases life-threatening, problems for its victims.
There are many factors that make dumping a complicated issue, and I won’t pretend to be any sort of authority on the issue. But, I do hope that we (myself included) will not let this information go to waste.
I honestly hope that this post will serve as a turning point from which we take more responsibility for the “proper” disposal of our discarded, “first world,” technological waste. Let’s start asking questions about the repercussions of our habits, instead of simply focusing on ourselves.
If you’re interested in some gaining some more in-depth information about electronic waste, check out this PBS undercover documentary. It’s incredibly eye-opening.
*I understand that I made a sweeping generalization, so forgive me if you are already aware of this issue and are actively taking steps to contribute towards a better solution. We need more people like you!