E-Waste and the Dark Side of Going Green

E-Waste and the Dark Side of going Green

In the effort of slowing down climate change, deforestation and pollution, societies across the world have tried to go ‘Green’. Many businesses started to utilize electronic document management systems and use digital devices instead of pen and paper. But despite all the effort, greenhouse gasses emission is still rising, and in addition, we created an e-waste problem with 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste disposed of worldwide every year!

Our last guest speaker, Reynold Redekopp raised an interesting and crucial point in his presentation when he talked about the upsurge in e-waste.


In my mind, e-waste is created by consumer behaviour, and unless we find more sustainable ways, the problem will grow. Do you remember the times when we had to buy films for our cameras and had to pay a photographer a substantial amount of money to have them developed and printed?  People took images for a purpose!

But since storage drives have shrunk and capacity increased, we digitalize everything. Our devices allow us to take unlimited free pictures of just anything, download anything and save it on the devices themselves or on the cloud. In addition to our already high amount of tangible waste we now can expect a 61% increase in worldwide data that represents 175 zettabytes by 2025.

In my mind, being a good digital citizen means demanding better-designed devices, better working conditions in China’s factories and fair trade in mining.

In my mind, e-waste is caused by consumer behaviour and as a result, students ought to learn about and adopt more sustainable consumer behaviour patterns.

Teachers can easily raise awareness about the Dark side of going Green by creating projects and sharing ideas that address those issues.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

I really like the idea of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. If this generation wants to see any changes, they must ask themselves if they really need the newest phone every year?  This consumer behaviour is not sustainable and demands changes in consumer behaviour.

2 Replies to “E-Waste and the Dark Side of going Green”

  1. I agree with your point that we are storing way too much on the cloud that we actually do not care for. I have files that can be removed to allow the space for more important documents, yet I don’t because I don’t think about it in my busy life. I have had my cellphone going on for 3 years but it doesn’t take much to consider upgrading, even though it is working fine and is in excellent shape. We (myself included) need to stop considering technology to be disposable and start thinking of it as impactful!

  2. WTH is a zettabyte!?! That sounds like a made up word.
    I agree with you about taking pictures. When we used to have to pay for film and developing we were much more careful of what we took pictures of. With the costs of technology externalized, we don’t think about the effects of our behaviour. Even if our technology is not “disposable” the ecological effects are still the same as if they were. The energy costs of digital citizenship are considerable.

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