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Published: Friday, 23 March 2018 18:24
by Saima Islam
Technology has become so integral to our lives that we mindlessly use and dispose them end to forget about the consequences it has on our environment. The material consequence of our daily use of technology is e-waste. Any form of discarded electronic objects are considered as e-waste. When e-waste is not recycled or processed properly, they end up in the landfills where it is eventually burnt down and the material present in these objects toxify the air and seep their way into the water bodies. Through proper recycling practices, the metals can be recovered and reused instead of mining and depleting these limited natural resources. The problem of e-waste gets even more complicated through globalization of e-waste where developed countries dump their hazardous waste to developing countries. People do not generally investigate where their devices end up.
These workers from developing countries who take part in these recycling process are oblivious to how severe the risks are as they are mostly illiterate workers whose poverty-stricken situations are being exploited. The awareness among citizens can encourage activism in different forms in different parts of the wort against practices which exploit these workers where they work in e-waste recycling sites that has lethal health implication for them due to the absence of proper mechanism and machinery needed to conduct such recycling procedures which ironically is present in a lot of developed countries who are responsible for the export of their e-waste.
Making people more aware of what really is happening to the devices that they have been can increase awareness and push for ethical domestic e-waste policies which ban the export of e-waste. It is possible for us to get educated and cultivate habits where we are more conscious of our consumption of technology. E-waste needs to become a mainstream issue of concern like the case with plastic where people develop an understanding of the magnitude of this problem and approach sustainable practices by monitoring the number of devices. This can pressurize the IT corporations to produce devices that does not become obsolete so easily for their profit and this can decrease the amount of e-waste drastically as people hold on to their devices longer.
These practices of globalization of e-waste emerge as people start becoming more individualistic and in the process, the Earth suffers. We can ship our e-waste to different parts of the world or different nations but let’s not forget that the mother Earth is one, no matter how much we want to divide. Causing environmental degradation at any one part of the world will eventually hurt all of it. It is our responsibility to be mindful in the ways we use technology, responsibly dispose and recycle them. We all can start to make small changes by recycling our electronic devices instead of throwing them in garbage upon their expiry and spread awareness about the issue.
You can learn more about the global crisis of e-waste through the following documentaries:
https://youtu.be/mleQVO1Vd1I (ToxiCity: life at Agbobloshie, the world’s largest e-waste dump in Ghana)
https://youtu.be/i4GZA9kEOV4 (The Digital Dump, Illegal Electronics Waste Trade Documentary in Nigeria)
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