As a human race, we have come a long way from where we were 20 years ago; from pagers to smart phones, clunky desktops to sleek and innovative laptops. I am proud to be a part of a generation that continues to amaze the world with its technological advancements. However, with all the rapid change, we are forgetting the most pinnacle piece of our everyday lives: our planet earth and the people who inhabit it. Everywhere you go, there will always be a graveyard of old technology that has been thrown away or abandoned. These computers and pieces of hardware are leaking dangerous chemicals such as lead into our soil as they sit idle.
In less economically developed nations, such as Ghana and more developed nations such as China, children are burning pieces of computers to find metals to sell for food. Even when children are not the ones burning these pieces of electronics, they are still affected by being exposed to the toxic fumes that emanate from burning metals. It is shown that 80% of all children in Asia have elevated levels of lead in their systems. This is not only hazardous to our environment, but also for their health. Exposure to these materials lead to asthma, and to grave health issues such as cancer.
If we look at China today, we see all the health effects that have been inflicted upon innocent civilians, from newborns to ailing mothers, all in the name of advancement. Not only are we eroding the environment, but we are also robbing the basic human rights away from children. These children should have a right to education and well-being, not a life shrouded by acrid fumes that could one day lead to their abrupt death.
It is imperative that we find ways to dispose of E-waste properly, in a safe manner that ensures sustainable growth.
We cannot stop growing as a technological society. However, we must complement such advancement with the recycling of E-waste. We must also spread awareness in order to shine light on the issue and nullify misconceptions of e-waste and climate change. There are around 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste generated worldwide. Not a pleasant figure, but we can all change that by being the ones stepping up to transform e-waste management for the good of the international community.
(Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/3262985825/)