As many of you are still gushing over all the new tech gadgets you received over the holidays, you probably didn’t give a second thought about the “old” gadgets you just threw away. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, it is estimated that 20-50 million tons of discarded electronics – electronic waste or e-waste – are dumped into landfills around the world, mostly in developing countries, every year. Electronics include old mobiles, televisions, microwaves, computers and more. However, most of the time it’s not because these gadgets are broken; they’re being dumped in favor of newer versions.
For example, many of you may have traded in your iPhone 4, which came out in June 2010, for the iPhone 4S, which was released just last October. According to Greenpeace, “the average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005, and mobile phones have a life-cycle of less than two years in developed countries.”
Landfills with e-waste create serious problems in the long run. Toxic chemicals in electronics can leach into the land over time or are released into the atmosphere, creating severe health and environmental hazards in nearby communities.
Global Wire Associates is launching a new awareness campaign called “Recharge E-waste.” Throughout the year, we will have special posts about the problem and possible solutions – reduce, reuse and recycle. Check back here for more discussions about proper recycling, donating and/or selling of used electronics, turning electronics into art and design models and, most importantly, why you should resist the urge to buy any of the latest gadgets featured at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CES) trade show this week in order to extend the life of the gadgets you already have.
We believe environmental hazards affecting marginalized communities is a social justice concern for all. Also, because we take green business very seriously, we are going the extra mile with this e-waste campaign. Over the years, we have spoken to many of you through our trainings about the problems you are having with e-waste and other tech disparities in your communities. We will be launching our own e-waste management program later this year with some other like-minded groups on how to effectively deal with this problem and bridge some gaps within our network. More information will come on this program in the next few weeks.
Talia, Marjane, Philip and Maria