E-Waste & the Green Economy
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how to be “more green” in our everyday lives, and in particular how to improve the global economy. In the last year, I have looked at the ways my company Global Wire Associates and my freelance journalism work operate and how I can create a smaller carbon footprint.
As a new media consulting firm, Global Wire Associates is in the business of using technology. However, with the growing problem of e-waste, we felt that it was our responsibility to use electronics with more mindfulness. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, it is estimated that 20-50 million tons of discarded electronics 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.
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.
Even if you take your old electronics to recycling sites, there is no guarantee they will be recycled properly. This is partly because it is expensive and labor-intensive to properly recycle e-waste in many developed countries, as most environmental laws in these countries require e-recyclers to use environmentally friendly processes.
So, for the last year, my company decided that when it is time to purchase any new equipment – cameras, computers, mobiles - we made sure that old or broken equipment was repairable first. We also donate old electronics that are not deemed useful for our purposes to other needy individuals or organizations. Before we consider making new purchases, we try to buy older but usable models whenever possible. If the electronics are beyond repairable, we properly recycle them.
Not only are we doing our little part to save the health of the planet and its people, but it has also made us feel really good about ourselves and wanting to extend our enthusiasm with others. So this year we launched our Recharge E-Waste campaign to make others aware of the global tech waste problem. We not only plan to use our website to have discussions about proper recycling, donating and/or selling of used electronics, and turning electronics into art and design models, but we are also seriously thinking about launching an e-waste management initiative later this year.Our green awareness has also extended to other areas in our operations, like doing more web conferencing with clients instead of traveling, cloud computing and using green office supplies. Of course, I also use recycled cameras for my freelance video journalistic gigs. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make a big difference in our world.