Friday, March 9, 2007
The Other Side Of The Water
I have owned 5 different computers int he past 6 years. Either they broke, became outdated, or I just craved having the new thing and replaced the old. It has come to my attention that we have not been putting the puzzle pieces together as a nation about where all of our old cell phones, laptops, computer monitors, and other electronic waste goes after we have replaced them.
Most of our computers are made and manufactured in Asia, then shipped across the Pacific to our living rooms here in America. We use these products in our daily lives, and most people would argue and say that a cell phone is an essential item. I am not one to argue as I might have spent many an hour wandering aimlessly through Agora Hills looking for shooting locations had I not had a cell phone to communicate with others. Cells phones and computers are a fact. Millions of people are not going to suddenly rid themselves of their electronic counterparts, so we need to find a way to exist with them, and yet demand that the companies that make them become more responsible with what is done with them after their usefulness has run out.
Some companies like Dell have buy back programs where you can repack your computer and send it back to them for dismantling. Unfortunately, since the US makes it expensive to dump toxic chemicals into the earth, these companies often send our computer parts back to where they came from... Asia. In China and India there are thousands of small children that make their living taking apart our old cell phones, computers, and monitors. They recycle them and extract the precious metals from their inner-workings. I have seen over an hour of footage from members of Greenpeace that have shot video of these children taking the things apart. These parts have things like mercury, and cadmium, and other substances very harmful to anyone not using protective equipment. Needless to say, the children are using their bare hands and small chisels, while working on a concrete floor.
The point is, think before you buy, and think before you dispose. I am not one to tell you to not buy the new laptop. Just remember that when you buy something, ask where it comes from, how it gets manufactured, and where you can send it when the new machine is available for purchase. If we want to consume in America, then it should be America that carries the burden of it's own waste, not shipping it across the ocean to a nation who has enough of the public severely under the poverty line that they welcome our detritus.
What if the picture above was that of an American child?