Writer: Laura Haffenden, technophile, member of Transition Horsham & Organiser of Kinder Tech
I’d like to confess something. My name is Laura, and I’m a shine-oholic. I can’t help it, I just love shiny new things! Everything from mobiles to sports tech; laptops, the lot! I chose a Dell laptop as my first laptop purely because of the lovely colours they came in and I love a slim new phone to accessorize. In fact, when I think about it I’ve upgraded a lot in the last 10 years, and I know I’m not alone. So where does all this old tech end up?
In an ideal world, it would be repaired, recycled or donated to a charity. However, much of our tech is instead stuffed in a drawer or thrown in the bin. In a study by the UN in 2014 a staggering 41.8 Million Tonnes of ‘e-waste’, everything from fridges and toasters to laptops and phones, was discarded globally, with up to 90% of this weight being illegally traded, exported or dumped.
This incorrect disposal of our tech shifts hazardous environmental problems on to developing countries, who are struggling to cope. With big money in accepting ‘e-waste’, nations such as India and China are accepting foreign waste and paying the consequences. Heavy metals and chemical compounds from ‘e-waste’ such as mercury, lead and cadmium, leak into local water supplies and affect the groundwater quality for vulnerable local people. The Basel Convention Treaty is there to control the shipment of this hazardous waste, but not all countries have signed up and the temptation to dump old tech in countries with poor environmental protection policies is too great for many.
This may sound like lots of doom and gloom, but never fear! Change can, and will, come from people like yourselves engaging with your activities and making good choices!
Did you know, for example, that some of the metals found in mobile phones, laptops and PCs are extremely valuable and can be easily extracted from devices when they are recycled? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, for every 1million mobile phones recycled, we can glean 5,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium!
Even better than recycling, is extending the life of our existing tech. You would be surprised what your local tech repairer can achieve, and for a fraction of the cost of buying a new device!
If you still need convincing, bring your broken laptops and PCs along to Horsham’s Kinder Tech event in County Hall North on Saturday 23rd April from 10am-3pm and chat for free to local organisations and businesses about fixes and solutions.
There will also be a recycling point for your old mobile phones and the West Sussex County Council’s Waste Prevention Team, will be on hand to tell you how to safely dispose of your tech. It’s easy when you know how!
Keep an eye on the Kinder Living website for more information and additions to the Kinder Tech line up! We hope to see you there.
Websites that inspired this blog: