Thursday, January 26, 2012

Designed for the Dump

Annie Leonard is at it again: the woman who brought you The Story of Stuff is back with The Story of Electronics
Maybe you can guess the story line. It goes like this: we buy a lot of electronic devices like cell phones and computers, and wind up replacing them in a couple of years. In addition to the sheer volume these things take up in a landfill, they also release toxins such as mercury.  
But there’s a plot twist in this typical ending, and it is Make them Safe, Make them Last, and Take them Back.  Leonard suggests that Americans can do what Europeans are already starting to do: demand more sustainable electronic devices. Some companies are already starting to take action.
In the meantime, if you have a device you’re ready to get rid of, Leonard recommends E-Stewards as a responsible way to recycle your electronics.


  1. I send my phones to phones for GI's (I forget the actual name of the program). and my computer stuff to Free Geeks.

  2. I have a friend that is still using his grandmother's cast-iron frypan. His grown grandkids want to take it away from him because it's the best pan in the family.   Some things are made to last.  But frying is a process that hasn't changed a great deal in several millennia.

    More sustainable will mean more expensive.  Are we ready to invest large sums in a rapidly changing technology?  Doesn't matter how good your camera is if Kodak quits making film.  Do you want to spend a thousand dollars on a phone that will last thirty years when it will be completely obsolete in 18 months?

    There's a lot to be said for intelligent recycling. Free Geek is another option.  Geeks learn hardware skills while repairing and recycling stuff that has outlived its usefulness.

  3. I often wonder: where does EVERYTHING that appears in ANY shop go, after it's 15 minutes/one season of fame? It seems that crockery/cutler/ clothes/pens/everything in every section of a department store/everything in a rural store/you name it turns over every season or year. Where does the old stuff go? Surely not into landfill! Any ideas?

  4. Wow, that's a good question. I never thought of it quite that way before. ALL those stores, ALL that stuff. Hmmmm.

  5. Ha! Guess I'm a Luddite. I want them to stop changing things on computers so often, and let me keep mine for 5+ years without it becoming a dinosaur that I'm forced to replace. Or maybe separate the monitors and hard drive, so you can get a good monitor and switch hard drives as needed. I dunno. There are some brilliant minds out there, but they all seem to be focused on stuff destined/intended to become obsolete.