E-waste also called electronic waste is a major problem that is faced by all nations small or large. Welcome to the age of computers, circuit boards, keyboards, mouse or mice, CPU’s, printers, scanners, copiers, laptops, cameras, video equipment, credit card terminals, e-cash registers, magnetic discs, refrigerators, Vinyl record players, blue ray, DVD, VCR’s, phones, tablets etc etc , and the list goes on and on.
Manufacturing all these have contributed to our pollution from factories and is continuing to do so every day at a rapid pace. In addition we need to factor in transportation, warehousing, logistics etc. All these require Human manpower, lighting, air conditioning, heating, exhaust systems etc etc. How about the mega infrastructure which will ultimately breakdown and will need to be replaced? What about that junk? Where will that be disposed off? What about the mega factories that is designed to pump out products by the millions every second of the day round the clock? We are consuming more and more each and every second. How much of anything do we want? How many TV’s do we need in our houses? Do we need one in each room? How many phones, computers or tablets do we need? Back then we all started with none. We still made it through life.
This above list accounts for only one product in each category. Multiply it for each household on the planet carrying each of these devices, multiply that for each Human who owns one in each of the above category. You see where I am heading. I have arrived at the World’s largest e-waste dumping site where Billions upon Billions of gadgets end up as old technologies get outdated and new technologies roll in. Of course, it needed to be dumped somewhere on the planet. It usually ends up probably in some poor country where there are no environmental regulations and where the public has no say in it.
Poverty breeds misery, disease and death. Here it ends up in someone else’s backyard causing known diseases like cancer, and bringing about the creation of New and previously unknown diseases. Who cares? The answer is no body. Who is to blame? Is it us the consumers? This is a big astounding YES. Will we admit it, of course not. The poor have always been suffering in silence and has led to the destruction of many families. These e-waste do not end up in our backyard for sure.
All these e-gadgets contain many toxins in some form or another. In the end the poor pay the ultimate price. Back then a refrigerator lasted almost a lifetime from the date of purchase. Today we are lucky to see it last five years. People become the collectors of e-waste and the physical handlers for the second hand market. They become exposed to these toxins resulting in their death and destruction. It also destroys their families for generations. We have indeed turned our World upside down.
Computers come in and go very rapidly, that is to the landfill. Today everything is designed to fail from the get go. So we will need to replace any gadget every six months. Computers start running slow, refrigerators start breaking down fast and phones go out of style very rapidly. Ours is a consumer driven society with an intense thirst for instant gratification. So we keep buying with one hand and throwing out with the other. Also we will need to show off to our family and friends and also to keep up with the times. We do not want to have an outdated phone or an old model car which works perfectly. Would we? On top of that we are trying to keep up with our neighbors, friends and everyone else on social media. Where does it all end? When will it end? Never and unlikely.
So next time we are looking to purchase any gadget or appliance, we need to ask ourselves these questions:
- Is the current appliance or gadget working perfectly?
- If so, why can’t I save the money instead of spending it?
- Do I need to replace it and NOW? ( Instant Gratification)
- If so, why do I need to replace it?
- Do I need to show off by purchasing a new one?
- Where will this gadget end up when I throw it out? Usually a land fill.
- If it’s recycled, who will be handling it?
- Will that person and their family be affected in anyway by the toxins?
- What about the future generations that will be affected?
- How will my action affect the environment?
To minimize our carbon foot print or any other foot prints these are my suggestions:
- The more we consume, the more we pollute
- Buy only if you must
- Buy only if you need, and not if you want
- Extend the life of any gadget by taking care of it and holding it for many years
- This will save you money if held even longer
- Anything new and improved means the previous version is crap
- Is the company environmentally friendly and responsible ? How do they dispose off waste? Are they being regulated? Who regulates the regulator?
- Is the laborer being exploited?
- Are they paid fairly?
- Does the company contribute to the uplift of the local community in which they operate?
We are THE originators of e-waste. So it starts with us within our own homes. If each of us do our part through minimal consumption, we may be able to save our environment, live frugally and at the same time save a ton of money in the process.
Thus, We will win at each turn. Will YOU Contribute and do your part through minimalism? You bet, I will.