Is Your Smartphone Destroying the Planet?
Consumer electronic devices at the time of their disposal become electronic waste. The processes that are used in the manufacture of these devices and the methods by which they are disposed are rapidly becoming serious environmental issues. Utilizing research from news sources, industry reports, and data from the United Nations and the Environmental Protection Agency, this work investigates the ecological impact of modern technological advances such as personal computing devices and cellular phones and explores the driving economic forces behind this growing problem. By reflecting on the marketing and production practices of large technology manufacturers, as well as examining the behavior of consumers, we can better understand how negative consequences of the digital age occur, and in doing so, develop new ideas about how to manage and mitigate them. From the use of fossil-fuel consuming machines to obtain raw materials necessary in the manufacturing process to the poisoning of people using acid or fire to recover resources when devices are disposed of, there are many ways that the consumer technology industry in its current form is damaging the planet and squandering precious resources. This work draws from the writings of modern environmental thinkers on topics including ‘cradle to cradle’ product design, shifting the traditional ownership paradigm, and improving oversight and self-regulation of manufacturers. These and other insights are presented here as sustainable alternatives to the practices currently fueling the e-Waste explosion.