The awful reality of e-waste as told in numbers
From 50 million tons of e-waste generated annually to 350,000 cell phones thrown away every day, the numbers behind our digital addiction are staggering.
Back in the olden days when we had phones that were attached to cords that were attached to walls, how often were they replaced? I can remember with certainty that the butter yellow rotary phone that served my childhood was there from the time I can remember things like telephones until long after I flew the coop at 17. Even though push-button phones were becoming the norm, the rotary was an immortal workhorse. Nowadays, rotary phones are museum relics and we're throwing out 350,000 mobile phones a day.
Technology is amazing; and the conveniences of the digital age are extraordinary – but the mindset of disposability that has hitched along with it is beyond troubling. Like waste and pollution of all genres, people toss and replace their electronics wantonly, all too often ignoring the fact that this junk ends up somewhere. Of the 50 million tons of e-waste generated each year, for example, in 2014 41.8 million tons of e-waste was shipped to developing nations, where it is broken down (usually improperly) exposing people and the environment to a slew of sleazy toxins.
The infograhpic below was created by the folks at Digital Doc – a company that encourages repairing before replacing, yay – and it spells it all out. I don't know about you, but it made me yearn for the sound of a rotary dial returning to its position, or the tones of a push-button phone singing out a number. At the very least, it reminds me to ignore the siren song of each new "must have" gadget; I don't want to be a part of these numbers.