When you throw out an old stereo, computer, or TV, where do you think it goes? To a landfill? An incinerator? Actually, there’s a good chance it ends up at a dump in a poor, African community.
PBS Frontline recently investigated the e-waste situation in Ghana, where electronic garbage from the West arrives on barges and sits in gigantic piles, contaminating the soil and water. This is not just a problem for the Third World, either; salvageable hard drives, often sold on the street, may still contain personal info, like credit card and account numbers. This contributes to identity theft, making Ghana one of the world’s top sources of cyber crime.
When you watch the PBS Frontline video and consider the e-waste problem, it’s easy to see how social justice factors into environmental issues. Some of the world’s poorest communities suffer so that we can easily dispose of our outdated electronic luxuries.
If you must upgrade your computer or TV (and we all do, sooner or later), please recycle the old one. It isn’t that hard and it’s well worth the trouble.