By Mike Aux-Tinee…
It’s getting time for you to replace that electronic gadget or gizmo. You know this because it does not work as well; the screen is fuzzy, things take longer to load and you need to yell so the other person can hear you. Yea, it is time to send this thing packing.
To make your decision easier, companies are coming out with new products that are sleeker, faster and have an app for everything. Boy, they sure know how to market these devices! You think, since it’s about to go out anyway, why not head to the store and pick up a new one!
Really now. Do you know and I mean really know what goes into making that new fangled gadget or gizmo and where it ultimately ends up? When I share the information, you may not be all that excited about getting a new one.
It is called e-waste. So, what is e-waste? It is made up of discarded, obsolete and broken electronic devices; cell phones, computers, televisions as well as refrigerators. Here are some of the hazardous materials in many of these products and how they are used:
- Sulfur – lead-acid batteries
- Cadmium – light-sensitive resistors
- Lead – solder, monitor glass
- Mercury – fluorescent tubes, thermostats
It should come as no surprise that both China and the United States produce a combined total of 5.3 million tons of e-waste a year and nearly 50 million tons are produced annually world-wide.
With so much waste being produced, it all needs to go somewhere. And that some where is to developing countries around the world. Countries such as China, India and many African nations are receiving waste for processing, many more are taking the waste and are becoming illegal dumping grounds.
Many countries do not have regulations in place to receive, process and safely dispose of the components. This exposes workers and surrounding communities to increased health risks from leaching materials from landfills and incinerators.
Those health risks include:
- babies born with abnormally low birth weight
- higher rates of mental retardation
- premature death
So, how is that new device looking to you now? I hope not all that great. What can you do about reducing e-waste?
- You should know your way around your own town, if not call and ask for directions then write it down on a piece of paper. Say good bye to the Tom-tom. Once done with the paper, recycle it.
- Head to your local library and use the computer there. Do not replace yours.
- Use internet forms of communication such as Skype.
- Do not replace your television. Spend time on some other activity such as reading, exercising or taking a class.
I hope what I have shared with you has made you stop and think before you buy something. While your old device is out of sight and out of your life, it is causing someone else’s life a great deal of hard ship and misery. And that just is not cool.