Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media

E-waste: we are contributing to massive issue (Week 7 Topic)

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Media today is huge. It’s everywhere. Everyone uses it, and everyone loves it. We all pay large amounts of money to get the latest technology, because it’s worth it… right? Well, maybe not.

We might pay a certain price for our technology, but what are others really paying behind the scenes? What are the true media costs?

The BBC has aired a documentary trying to create awareness about the true costs of our media use, something we are not really aware of in our “safe developed-country bubble”, as I like to call it. I myself was not aware of this until I saw the documentary.

BBC exposes the place where technology goes to die. Third World countries are being sent supposedly “second hand” technology goods (such as TVs, computers, phones etc) for them to use. That sounds admirable right? First world countries sharing their technology with the less fortunate, that’s great! But no, of course there is an ulterior motive.

A percentage of the goods sent to these countries are not actually functioning, they are broken, beyond fixing. What are the third world countries to do with these good-for-nothing products? Well they smelt them of course.

Now that isn’t even the worst of it! The workers who smelt this technology range between the ages of 13 and 35. This is a dangerous, toxic workplace, and children aren’t just being exposed to it, but are working in it.

Greenpeace released a similar but more promotional video concerned with this issue. They revealed more disturbing facts. It is actually illegal for developed countries to dump e-waste in developing countries, stated under the Basel Convention. Developed countries bypass this law by declaring the technology as “functioning” second hand goods.

This isn’t just an issue for the workers’ health, but the smelting of this e-waste also has a massively detrimental effect on their country’s environment.

What I find really scary about this issue is the amount I have contributed to this e-waste. My family, my friends, they’ve all contributed. We are creating this problem and allowing our country to dump it on other countries’ doorsteps.

We need to learn how to dispose of e-waste responsibly. If we don’t, at the rate this broken technology is growing, our world will soon be overrun with discarded e-waste.

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