Basically, Annie is telling us that pretty much all of our electronics are filled with toxic substances that usually end up in countries like China, India, Ghana, and Nigeria. The electronics are then broken apart and burned by workers who take the metals out and sell them for money. The problem is that this process releases harmful chemicals that poisons the water and the air. According to the Story of Electronics FAQ,
“80% of kids in Guiyu, China, where a lot of e-waste processing happens, have very high levels of lead in their blood. And residents of Guiyu have the highest levels of dioxins that have ever been found in people.”
After hearing about that, my next question was – how can I make sure that my electronics don’t end up in a landfill?
Find a local non-profit that could use a computer, as long as it still works of course. If you can’t find an organization near you, then World Computer Exchange is a nonprofit that educates youth in developing countries about internet skills.
Find an e-Steward.
A recycler that is part of the e-Steward network will not export it to developing nations, and has a set of specific standards to follow. Find one near you.
Check for a manufacturer take back program.
The Electronic TakeBack Coalition has put together a list of both manufacturers and stores that will (and won’t) take back electronics ranging from computers to TVs.
Best Buy is one of the companies that has an e-waste recycling program. Find out all the details in Julie Schwietert Collazo’s article from earlier in 2010, Best Buy Wants You to Recycle Electronics.