E-Waste: Where does it go?

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                  Getty Images: Thomas Imo

The evolution of technology in the past two decades has transformed our way of life. Technology is integrated in our day to day lives and has become a central part of our culture and we are constantly seeking new and improved versions of electronics we already own.

However,what happens to our old unwanted electronics after they are tossed away? Where are those millions of indestructible Nokia phones we once owned? Where did the old dinosaur computers we once played with go?

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                   Getty Images: Thomas Imo

In our absorption of our own day today lives we have become oblivious to some of the harsh realities our consumer behavior has on the environment and other people. However, it is dire to understand what is happening and who we are impacting every time we throw away our electronics.

The United States ships over a million tons of electronic waste to Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan China and India and other underdeveloped countries every year. It shipped overseas because it is cheaper to recycle since the impoverished people will work for little pay. It is also beneficial to the U.S. because protective environmental laws are non-existent or not enforced in those countries which allows toxic waste to be disposed of freely without consequences for damages caused to the environment or the people.

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                     Getty Images: Bloomberg

It is a grim way of life for the people who live in the wreckage. Unimaginable. The people of the slums do what they can to survive, however, the waves of discarded rubble keep coming from across sea into their land. Wave upon wave. The pieces of electronics they cannot salvage are burned which release greenhouse gasses and toxic fumes which pollute the air around them. Items that can’t be burned are tossed off into the sea creating more pollution and making fishing nearly impossible. Exposure to lead, mercury, and carbon monoxide has poisoned the citizens of these countries making them prone to premature deaths, birth defects and cancer.

It is a different world. A world of waste where the piles of broken computers and machinery are the hills in which kids roam and scavenge through rubble for scraps of metal that might be traded in for half a cent to buy a morsel. Where the valley is black. Scorched and littered with metallic and plastic remnants from the bodies of what used to be functioning equipment that enriched the lives of many privileged Americans. Smoke and ashes rise from the heaps of garbage like specters hovering around the people foreshadowing their nearing fate.

In our hunger for more we have left these people with less. Let’s do our part and be conscientious people of the world by disposing our waste responsibly. Let’s want for more by wanting for nothing. If not for the people of Ghana or Pakistan or the children of India and China let’s do it for us and for the fate of our future. It is a dying world and it is our duty to preserve it.

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