Erase E-Waste

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Remain and Sustain(ability)

Welcome back to those have kept up with my sustainable journey. I have actually become a bit habitual in my water conservation habits, to an almost obsessive behavior, like turning off the water when I see someone at work leaving it run while they are in the refrigerator getting their lunch, to turning off every light without a presence in the room, and unplugging every appliance in sight. However, I focused on saving energy in many ways, some unfortunately, because of time constraints, like eating nothing but microwavable foods.  *sings* HOT POCKETS!!! But, I am compelled to make a slight adjustment in my action plan and direction of this week.

I joined a group at work called the “Green Team DFW,” I am member 301. The Green Team helps the business and the environment in making and planning sustainable solutions. I received my first member’s newsletter and found a disturbing article about during the Texas drought in 2011 more than 300 million trees died. This is really devestating to learn because our environment needs trees to help conserve water, and improve the quality of air. Funny, I use to hear this guy always say, “Save the leaves, not the trees!” Guess, that has meaning to me now even if it was an inside joke then,which I apparently missed.  Oddly enough, leaves happen to absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the plant’s structure and function.  In this process, the leaves then absorb other air pollutants-such as carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur oxide, and gives off oxygen. I know this because I read the benefits of trees. Smile, I am really smart though!

So this led me to my next focus for the week, and that was to concentrate my efforts on how I can help save our trees. I thought by going paperless would make me feel empowered and hero to fighting the global warming epidemic, but I was a little off by what I discovered. I found that I was degrading the environment with use of more digital media rather than trying to reduce how much paper I use (especially because I love paper), now in this argument it does not suggest that one has more of an environmental impact but what it did provoke was awareness of major causes of deforestation with use of cell phones, game consoles, computers, telecommunication networks like cable, and data centers such as Google. No need to be shocked, we all here know paper has caused pollution, but what we did not realize, including myself is that  digital technology uses coal-fired power plants contributing significantly to global warming. That one of those hmmm moments I had. I especially feel even guiltier now for my Wii, Playstation 3, and XBox 360 that I hardly ever use. Here’s a fact, Greenpeace estimates that by 2020 data centers will demand more electricity than is currently demanded by France, Brazil, Canada and Germany combined. Chances are that the electricity flowing through your digital media devices and their servers is linked to mountaintop-removal coal from the Appalachian Mountains. Say what?????

Mountain-top removal

Can you believe that? If this concerns you the way it has baffled me, then check on this link and check out your connection to mountain-top removal http://ilovemountains.org/my-connection!

I am not going to wait to plant a tree on Arbor Day, but I must find a way to reduce what they call e-waste. Learn how I do this next week!

Here are a few awareness tidbits on how digital technology makes up 5% of all municipal solid waste worldwide.

  • Most of e-waste gets dumped in Africa and Asia some exported to Pakistan.
  • Electronic waste, intended to be recycled, was illegally exported to UK    and Nigeria for search of metals that can be sold.
  • China is a popular destination for e-waste from the US and Europe. Old electronics are dismantled by hand and the toxic waste is dumped in streams and fields.

Learn more how e-waste affects the world around us next week!

Erase E-waste

In the meantime think of your contribution when you are getting your next upgrade whether that be the new Iphone 5, the Microsoft Surface,  or the latest gadget that may not be of much importance when comparing the impacts of e-waste.

 

MB

References:

E-waste. (n.d). Retrieved on October 22, 2o12 from http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste/

Benefits of Trees. (n.d). Retrieved on October 21, 2012 from http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/tree_benefits.aspx

Hylton. H. (2011, August 11).Forget Irene: The Drought in Texas is Catastrophe That Could Really Hurt. Retrieved on October 21, 2012 from http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2091192,00.html

 The E-waste problem. (n.d). Retrieved on October 22, 2012 from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/where-does-e-waste-end-up/

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Comments
  1. Like you, I too have become a bit obssessed- but for me, it’s lights- I can’t stand to see someone leave the lights on when they walk out of a room, let alone the water running.

    Your insights on the mountain top removal issue are alarming- beware those who vote Republican this season, as the GOP agenda seems to be pushing environmentalism to the bottom of the barrel, even denying such practices even exist.

    As for the Iphone issue, it is a problem! How can we get America’s favorite technological jugernaut to make it’s products more recyclable? Could component parts we swapped out instead of junking the whole thing every time a new update comes out? Yet another casuality of “planned obsolesence”.

  2. WOW! What an awesome and fascinating topic. After reading a little more about e-waste, I learned the following:

    •The average lifespan of computers in developed countries has dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years in 2005.
    •Mobile phones have a lifecycle of less than two years in developed countries.
    •183 million computers were sold worldwide in 2004 – 11.6 percent more than in 2003.
    •674 million mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2004 – 30 percent more than in 2003.

    At the rate we are acquiring and discarding electronics, we are going to have to find a better way to dispose of the old items so they are not such a large part of our global waste! I am definitely going to continue researching this topic to see what efforts are already in place to reduce this type of waste. Thank you for the insightful post! 🙂

    Greenpeace. 2012. What is e-waste? Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste/

  3. After reading what you mentioned in the posting, I have had a very deep impressed that how important the sustainability is, people spend a lot to change the current situation they have due to the desire for better life. However, when they reached what they want, the pay instead of the result also is painful.

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