Since I work in the high tech industry, it’s important to me that it’s ultimate impact on the world nets out as a positive. I believe that technology is a powerful tool to unleash the potential of people and organizations, and that the overall purpose of the industry is to make the world a more productive and creative place. But there are some negative side effects.
There are unintended negative effects of technology. Things like pedophiles having easier access to children on the internet, and the fact that rapid innovation is creating a ‘digital divide’, where people in the developing nations are getting further behind as the developing countries continue to make quantum leaps.
There are also direct (and avoidable) negative effects, most notably the under-reported issue of electronic waste. Most people do not know that there are range of toxic chemicals in hardware, and that the majority of products are shipped to landfills in Asia when we are done with them. In fact, the U.S. throws away about 400 million electronic gadgets each year — more than one per person – and only about 20 percent of e-waste in the U.S. is collected for recycling.
This is a problem that needs more attention, so I was happy to see the latest video release by Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project is addressing e-waste. “The Story of Electronics” provides an excellent overview of the life-cycle of our electronic gadgetry, and how our ‘design-for-the-dump’ mentality is presenting significant environmental challenges (and health risks for those countries that deal with our high tech trash).
Check out Annie’s video, and then visit her Take Action page to learn about proper recycling, and to make your voice heard with electronics designers. If you’d like to learn more about this issue I’ve also included a short video from GOOD, as well as the trailer for the documentary The Digital Dump, from the Basel Action Network (BAN).
To watch the entire 23 minute short documentary The Digital Dump, click here.