Across the globe, consumers have developed a passion for all things electronic. From iPads to Smartphones, Blackberry devices, Xboxes, Play Stations, and endless video games, technology has become part and parcel of everyday life and epitomises many of the habits held by modern consumers young and old.
But alongside this rise in technology, we’ve seen an increase in awareness around sustainability – specifically the impact of technology and e-waste on our environment; with electronics getting plenty of negative press when it comes to their impact on the planet. As a result, the consumer attitude to replacing and discarding unwanted devices has been widely and negatively reported on, with environmental organisations and charities like Computer Aid doing all they can to change the story.
But what is the issue and how can we change the narrative to nurture positive consumer attitudes to technology, both in terms of recycling and in promoting green electronics and less e-waste?
The problem with e-waste
Protesters march to demand action against global climate change on Sept. 20, 2019, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Electronic waste, when tossed in the rubbish alongside other household waste, poses significant risks when it ends up in landfill. Such devices contain toxins like mercury and lead that can poison the soil and groundwater, posing serious health risks to our wildlife and to ourselves in the long run.
Some of the long-term effects of direct exposure to the toxic contents of technology devices include damage lungs, bone defects, and prostate cancer – as well as damage to the immune system, learning deficits, and decreased mental ability.
The Solution – and what are green electronics?
Here at Computer Aid, we have long been promoting the need for recycling and reusing initiatives specifically in the corporate world where e-waste is at an all-time high; however, this isn’t the only option that faces us.
For one thing, environmental activism shines a spotlight on promoting stronger e-waste recycling measures – both via charity initiatives like ours and via safe recycling banks which enable old devices to be transformed into e-waste art and other products.
Green electronics form another branch that environmental activists are fighting for, with a goal to increase the production of those devices made with fewer toxic contents, so that when they are discarded the harm that they cause is minimal.
Made from recycled content, green electronics are energy efficient and safe to use. In short, they are devices which have been manufactured and made without the toxins that are known to cause harm – thus making the technology safer both during and after its lifespan.
As Greenpeace reported in their Guide to Greener Electronics:
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of old computers and mobile phones are disposed of unsustainably. The rate at which these mountains of obsolete electronic products are growing will reach crisis proportions unless the electronics corporations making and selling these devices own up to their responsibilities.
[However], it is possible to make clean, durable products that can be upgraded, recycled, or disposed of safely and don’t end up as hazardous waste in someone’s backyard.”
Why are manufacturers going green?
As Greenpeace argue, by eliminating hazardous and toxic materials from their products, not only are they more energy-efficient but they are safer to use.
And manufacturers are, incredibly, taking heed.
The rise in e-waste has grown to such an extent that no country can ignore the implications. One of the focuses of the annual Earth Day initiative lies in technology waste and how to combat the consumer attitude that newer is better – with organisations like ours creating solutions which allow corporates and companies to donate their unwanted devices as part of their charitable activity and social responsibility.
The move to green electronics in particular is a means of keeping up with the ever-growing consumer demand for new and improved products – but is this sustainable in the long run?
Today people are upgrading their mobile phones, computers, and other devices more frequently than ever before, and if we’re not careful the rise in e-waste will only continue to grow – regardless of whether the waste is green electronics or not.
Recycling your unwanted devices and technology products
Recycling is, arguably, the easiest solution to safely disposing of unwanted and outdated devices, without contributing to the rise in toxic landfill and environmental damage.
Though it does nothing to stem the constant demand for new products, we hope that as consumer attitudes changes and more awareness is garnered around the harm being caused by toxic waste, recycling and reusing will become part of the norm – just as preloved clothes are making their own comeback in the fashion industry.
So, what can you do to help?
Here at Computer Aid we offer partnership solutions to businesses and companies of all sizes, that allow you to donate unwanted and unused devices for the benefit of those in need – both in the UK and overseas. Compiling reports which enable you to track and identify the benefit of your donations, these partnerships are available at no cost to your business and are designed to promote recycling as well as giving back.
For more information on this and to learn how our work supports communities around the world, visit our website. You can also find out how to donate online and sign up for more information on our work and the difference we make every day.
image credit : (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)