Electronic Waste

// Posted by on 06/11/2015 (2:59 PM)

I never really thought about what happened to my old electronics when I got rid of them. After this week’s reading and videos I am shocked to know that our old electronics could be harming other people and their environment. I was also shocked to read that these electronic designers are only aiming for their product to last around 5 years.

I think that one way that we could improve the amount of electronics’ that are thrown away each year is by making the products with better parts. If these products are made to last then maybe people will want to keep them longer. I know that this might not always be the case because people may still want the newest product but we could try it. I think a good example is with IPhone’s. Rather than needing to get the actual newest phone, Apple allows you to download the newest operating system on the same older phone. This way you have the most advanced version, just maybe not the latest version of the phone itself.

I can say that I have craved the newest and latest electronic but I usually waited until mine bit the dust before I invested in a new one. I will say though that if I did invest in the newest and latest electronic I would sell/give mine to a friend or give it back to Verizon to refurbish rather than throwing it away. I heard about a program on the radio that allowed people to trade in their old phones to be sent overseas for the soldiers who were away. I think this is an awesome idea and that more companies should practice similar waste managements.

Another suggestion I would have to this crisis is making electronic companies have a department that tends to the old electronics that are being tossed. These company should be required to have a branch of their business that deals with breaking down these old products for recycle. If the company did not want to do this they could be required to give money to another company whose job is to dispose of old electronics.

I think that overall we need to become more aware of this growing issue. With the advancements in technology and want for the newest products I can only imagine how out of hand this problem is going to get in the coming years. People should be worried about this because of the sicknesses that people are encountering in underdeveloped countries. We are responsible for getting these people sick and they cannot afford to get the medical attention they need. Not only are we hurting these people but we are hurting the environment. We cannot recreate the environment so we need to be sure to take care of the one we have.

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Rosatelli said...

Hi Kaitlyn,

I appreciate that your post is full of solutions! You hit on some ideas that I’ve discussed in other posts, and I think that it’s quite useful to think about how we can mitigate this issue without giving up new technologies as they come on line. I’m really interested in how you think the materiality of the web–server farms and devices–fit into the larger conversation of power in the digital age. When Sassen is talking about the shifting power of nation states and the imbrication of the digital with the analog, how can we fit those theories into the case studies we’ve read about this week? Are her ideas starting to take shape?

// 06/12/2015 at 2:47 pm

SarahP said...

I think with ending on materiality, it makes us all realize that the internet, while seemingly intangible, is a necessary component of us as a generation of people. The Internet is now the fastest-moving method of communication, as tweets can get information out much faster than phone calls or even email. The Internet, while being a part of us, also represents things we want (or didn’t even know that we wanted until we saw the flashing banner ad).
Our rapidly-changing and overly materialistic culture is making the issue of E-waste worse, as society craves the latest gadget that Apple unveils at a sleek, sexy press conference. Unfortunately, places such as Accra or Guyiu are on the receiving end of the Western problem, and are thus paying the price in the form of poor health as a result.
Tubes has certainly opened our eyes to where the internet “comes from”, and gives it a more intimate feel. I don’t think of the internet as a series of pings and brightly colored pages, but instead, think more of its digital genetic make up.
In the beginning, I never considered “what happens”- whether it is connecting to the internet, or where our old computers go when we dispose of them. Now, I know that the removal of our old computers has dire consequences, as well as the deeper risks of online activity, from social networking to stock trading. The Internet has made all forms of communication virtually instantaneous, but has always been risky.

// 06/13/2015 at 3:40 pm

David said...

Since early on — The Internet has been all about communication and advancing technology. Now we have done that at a rate that has quite successfully started to destroy villages, ecosystems, and ultimately the planet. Do you think we need to slow down? I asked this question in another reply, but even I — and I like upgrading whenever I can, after reading all of this think that maybe we should slow down and reel it in some, and perhaps change our focus back to communication and bring in people together. Instead of making a new latest and greatest, expand infrastructure. When everyone has access, then perhaps come out with a new model of something. I’m sure these comments are naive, as I don’t know much about business or tech. development, but it makes sense in my head.

The lifecycle, the cradle to grave, that the course provided was quite eye-opening and really showed the early years all the way through to the current death epidemic that we are seeing now. It’s quite troubling.

// 06/13/2015 at 5:05 pm

BonnieG said...

You have some awesome ideas in regard to company’s being accountable for e-waste. I’d like to ask why companies are allowed to build products that they know will hurt the environment. I thought there were laws in place that disallowed that type of manufacturing. But I guess if you have the money and the benefit of lobbyist working to help your business then none of those rules apply.
But even if they are accountable how do companies properly dispose of toxic waste so that it does not hurt the environment? I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do know it should not be shipped off to other countries. I also believe if the e-waste was handled in the U.S. prices for electronics would increase, and labor to build those products would increase as well.

// 06/13/2015 at 11:56 pm