Picture this, an eighty pound elderly lady standing in the middle of piles of wires, circuit boards, broken glass and medal. She’s diligently stripping whatever is left of the pieces of electronics in front her. By her side is a young man catching medal on fire. Puffs of black smoke ascend into the air all around them. This is what it looks like if our computers aren’t discarded properly.
I assumed that I was in the know when it came to living a “greener” life but I didn’t have any idea about this. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever thought twice about it. I trusted that the major companies who produce the many electronics available to us today had it all figured out. When we irresponsibly discard of electronics we are allowing lead, arsenic, mercury and even flame retardant chemicals potentially permeate our land, air and eventually water supplies.
The reason our so called “e-waste” is shipped out to China, India Ghana and others is all about money. These countries don’t have strict occupational laws and the labor is much cheaper. The workers expose themselves to the carcinogenic smoke from burning the wires and other hazardous chemicals on a daily basis. In developed countries, there are laws to protect workers from this kind of exposure. So, we ship it out to the countries that can’t afford to say no. http://www.greenerchoices.org.
Some companies will give discounts on new equipment when you recycle. It is suggested to also look for recycling centers that have signed the pledge to not send waste to developing countries like China or to discard in municipal landfills. It forces manufactures and recyclers to take a different approach to recycling and thinking ahead. If we turn in these electronics to a proper facility or donate if the device can still be used we are one step closer to a greener life.