Lucy Siegle has a great piece in The Guardian that brings up her dilemma in finding an ethical laptop now that it's time to upgrade from her old machine.
She faces the same concerns as many of us do, wondering exactly what problems she is exacerbating by supporting the technology industry, which is well known for using materials and processes that are not planet- or people-friendly.
The sleekness of the gadgets that dominate our lives gives little hint of the chaos that lies beneath – not just their innards, which include rare-earth materials such as neodymium (magnets) and europium (which makes your phone glow), but their backstories. Most of these materials are mined in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, a place described as "the apocalypse".
And yet, how do we escape this when so many of our lives revolve around technology -- computers and laptops (which use additional tech from the external mouse to the distant data centers), cell phones and tablets, televisions and DVRs, gaming consoles and stereo systems and on and on.... and that's just the tech we keep within our own homes. When it comes time to buy something new, how do we do that ethically? Is it even possible?
Perhaps not yet, at least not on a large scale, but Siegle hopes that a new revolution will begin:
You could say we're all enslaved by gadgets. Brands and consumers prioritise perfection over people (and planet). So ethi-tech (as I'm calling a hoped-for sustainable technological revolution) has yet to get going.